Blogger Apps for Smartphone and Tablet
Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad, and talk about the apps I use most in my blogging and online business activities.
One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology I use. In the early days it was all done purely through my old desktop PC (and by old I mean really old) and via dial-up internet.
Things were so simple. I started on Blogger and everything that went on my blog was written directly into it. Adding images or video to my posts were not even something I considered as my internet speed was too slow and my computer not really powerful enough to do anything with them.
But since that time a lot has changed. For me, it started with an upgrade of computers (I bought myself a little white apple iBook with my first earnings) and upgrading to ADSL internet.
I also remember around that time I got my first phone (a Nokia if my memory serves me correctly) that allowed me to go online and look at websites. It had a built-in browser, and while the user experience was horrible I remember looking at my blog for the first time on it and even managing to find a way to log in to the back end of my blog which enabled me to edit a spelling mistake.
I thought that ability was so cool, even though it took ten or so minutes to login, find the mistake on that tiny screen, make the change (using the keypad) and save the change.
Of course 2007 came around and changed everything when the iPhone was released, and I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. Higher resolution screens, touch screens instead of buttons, and these ‘app’ things that while at the time were pretty basic I could see would have amazing potential.
I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007, but apart from one 12 month period when I tried an Android I’ve stuck to Apple products.
I have also had a number of iPads in that time (although I never actually bought any of them – I managed to win them all in affiliate promotions). My first iPads were used more for entertainment – reading Kindle books, watching movies, playing games – but in the last 6 months I have started using an iPad Pro (10.5 inch) which I won and am starting to realize that that device can actually replace my notebooks for some circumstances.
So today I want to talk about the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly.
Of course as an Apple user they’ll be iOS specific, although quite a few of them can also be found on Android.
It’s also worth noting that increasingly I’m using apps that allow me to sync up with my Apple computers. Cloud computing is of course one of the other big changes that has happened, and I LOVE that I can work on my desktop and then keep working on another device.
Links and Resources on Smartphone and Tablet Apps for Bloggers
Productivity and Planning
- Using CoSchedule as a Blogging Tool
- Adobe Spark
- Snapseed for iOS
- Snapseed for android
- Google Drive for iOS
- Google Drive for Android
Other Apps Mentioned by Our Community
Today, I want to take you on a tour of my iPhone and iPad and talk about the apps that I use most in my blogging and online business activities. One of the biggest changes that has happened in my blogging since I began back in 2002 is the technology that I use. The early days, it was all done purely through my desktop PC, a very, very old machine and dial-up internet. Obviously, things have changed since then. I’m not on dial-up anymore, thank goodness. Things back then were so simple. I really had no tools apart from the fact that I had that computer and I did everything through Blogger because that was the platform that I am set up on.
Everything that went onto my blog was written directly into Blogger. I didn’t have any images, I didn’t have any videos because that was just not possible on the machine that I use, which really could not handle anything much more than text. Also, my internet speed was so slow. There just weren’t any other tools to really edit that video or even edit images. There was no such thing as text overlay really going on in blogging back then.
But since that time, a lot has changed. For me, it really started with an upgrade of computers. I bought myself our first little iBook, one of those little white iBooks with some of my first earnings on my blog. I saved up a few months worth, actually, it was probably after six months worth and bought that iBook then I upgraded to ADSL internet. I also remember, around that time, getting my first phone which I think was a Nokia, from memory, that allowed me to go online. It was this amazing thing to be able to get online. It had its own little browser built into it on this tiny little screen. I remember looking at my blog for the first time on a phone. I remember thinking this is just unbelievable that I can read blogs on my phone.
Of course, it took me ten minutes just to get it uploaded onto my site because the internet was so slow. There was no wifi. It’s all being done through the 3G or the 2G or whatever it was at the time. I thought to myself, “What would it be like if I try and login to the backend of my blog?” It took me an hour to work out how to do it on this little phone. I had to input everything by the button because there was no touch screen on the phone so it was very, very basic. But I remember, eventually, being able to login to the backend and edit a spelling mistake on a blog post which I’d seen.
I thought this was amazing. This was a game changer for me because I thought, “Now, I’ll be able to edit my blog from the road if I was traveling.” Of course, I never really did that because it did take so much time to make those edits, it was all done through that keypad but I could see that things were changing. I began to dream about the fact that maybe one day we would have technology to be able to do this more easily.
Of course, 2007 came around and that changed everything. We have iPhones in our pockets. When that first iPhone was released, I began to realize that life was about to change for bloggers. We had high-resolution screens where you could actually see what was going on our web browser, touch screens instead of buttons, and then these things called apps that at the time, were pretty basic and couldn’t really do a lot but I could see that this was going to change everything. I’m not sure how many iPhones I’ve had since 2007. It’s probably been one a year, almost, maybe not quite.
Apart from one 12-month period where I tried an Android, I’ve got a Samsung, I was stuck to Apple products for most of that time. I’ve also had a few iPads over the years although I’ve never actually bought any of them. I managed to win all of them as an affiliate in affiliate competitions. My first iPad though were used more for entertainment, reading Kindle books and watching movies, playing games. But over the last six month, I’ve actually started to use my iPad, I’ve got my iPad Pro, I won it, 10.5 inch screen.
I’m starting to realize that it is a device that is now starting to replace some of the things that I used to do on my notebook computer, particularly when I’m traveling. Today, what I want to do is really talk about some of the smartphone and tablet apps that I use most regularly. They are changing our lives as bloggers, and I’m getting asked quite regularly what apps do I use. Some of the discussions we’ve had over in the Facebook group over the last few months show me that you are interested in talking about this too.
Of course, I want to say right up front I am an Apple user so all the apps I’m going to talk about today are iOS specific, although quite a few of them also do have Android versions as well. It’s also worth noting that, increasingly, I’m using apps on my devices, my phone and my tablet, that allow me to sync up with what I’m doing on my computer. This is one of the other big changes that massively happened over the last ten or so years, this Cloud computing which enable us to start doing something on one device and end up doing it on another. That would be a theme in today’s show as well.
You can find today’s show notes where I’ll list and link to all of the apps that I mentioned. You can go to problogger.com/podcast/207. You can follow along there and check out the apps that I mention. Also, there are a couple of really good discussions going on in our Facebook group, which I will link to in the show notes as well. One of them where we talk about our favorite apps from a month or so ago and then also, a more recent discussion where we talk about the apps we use to take notes. There’s been quite a robust discussion on that front as well. Let’s get into today’s show. I’m going to take you through some of the apps on my phone.
What I’ve done in going through these apps is to try and classify them into different types of apps. I want to start off by talking about productivity and planning apps. There is a little bit of overlap. Some of these apps probably fit into two different categories but bear with me, I thought it might help give a bit distraction to the show today. The first category, productivity planning. One of the apps that I love is Wunderlist. This is a to-do list type app. It’s a little bit heavier, more feature rich than some of the other to-do lists that I’ve come across.
It allows me to have different categories in my to-do list. I’m looking at my phone right now and I have a category that’s for personal, for family. That’s where I put on my shopping lists and all of those types of things. I have a list for our events and that’s where in the lead up to our events, I was putting all specific things for the event. I’ve got a list there for the DPS, a list there for ProBlogger. I’m able to categorize those lists but it also allows me to see all the things on my to-do lists which allows me to get the big picture, the fire host type list of all the things that I need to do.
Each of the to-do items, you can just have no data. It could just be something you need to do once and it doesn’t really matter, or you can set yourself a reminder and deadlines as well. Once you do set those deadlines, you can look at the full list and see what you need to do today. This really does help to get those things done. You can also share your lists with other people, not that I use that, you can email yourself tasks. For each of the items on your list, you can also add notes and comments and I love that as well because I will set myself the task to write a blog post but I can also begin to outline that blog post in the note that is associated with that task.
Wunderlist sits on my iPhone, it also syncs with the app that I put on my iPad and also there are apps for my computers. I love this that I can have all of that in one place. This is something that I use everyday. It’s very handy for me and it’s something I really can’t imagine living without in many ways.
Another productivity and planning app that I use is Notes. I use, actually, the Apple Notes app that came with my iPhone. This has been the subject of a lot of discussion in our Facebook group at the moment. I actually started a thread, which I’ll link to on today’s show notes, asking people what they use because I’m not completely satisfied with Notes. I used to be an Evernote user but because I’m using four devices, two computers, an iPhone, and the tablet, that changed, I guess, six or seven months ago when Evernote changed their pricing model and I’m a bit cheap. I’m reluctant to pay for a notes app. For me, it’s not something that I feel the need to pay for. Although, because I’m not satisfied with any of the other apps that I’ve tried that are free, maybe I do need to go back to Evernote.
Apple, in their new version of iOS, iOS 11, have said that there are some changes coming with notes, particularly in the iPad which allow you to draw and that type of thing. I’m going to stick with it for a little bit longer just to see how those changes impact the app but I might need to go back to Evernote as well. I will say, on the side, some other note taking apps that I’ve tried recently, there’s one called Bear which I like a lot. It’s a markup-based app though. You actually see the markup code in your note. For me, that clutters the note a little bit and it wasn’t an intuitive experience although I did like the way the app looked.
Simplenote is another one that many in our group have been saying that they love. For me, it feels a little bit too simple. It just didn’t quite work for me as well. Awesome Note is the other one, and I really liked Awesome Note when I tried it but it doesn’t have a computer version. To do anything with that on the computer, you have to use Evernote, which is a bit of a pain. Last one that many number of people have been recommending to me is OneNote, that’s Microsoft’s note app. It is feature rich but to me, it just doesn’t look nice. It’s a bit clunky and a bit corporatey. I’m a bit fussy. This is probably the only app that I’m still looking for the perfect fit for me. I’ll move on from note taking apps. If you’ve got a suggestion, feel free to add it in the Facebook group.
Another app that fits into this productivity area is an app called MindNode, which I have mentioned before on the podcast in the episode where I talked about mind mapping. MindNode is a tool that enables me to create mind maps. I love the visual maps that it creates. It’s very clean, very easy to use. Again, it works on my computer, it works on my iPad, it works on my phone and through iCloud, it syncs together so I can see all my mind maps on all my devices.
The last app that I’ll talk about when it comes to productivity is my calendar app. I actually use Fantastical 2. It’s from a company called Flexibits and it’s a calendar app. For many years, I actually used Apple’s native calendar app which is called Calendar. I quite like that but Fantastical 2 does give me some different options that I really like. I love that I can add in new events very intuitively. I can actually type in, “Meeting with Laney at 2:00PM.” It actually puts it in at 2:00PM. I don’t have to then click something and say 2:00PM. Just adding in the events is easier.
It has a view that allows me to see everything that’s upcoming and it also has something on my computer that allows me a little icon in the top menu bar which allows me to click it. I’m clicking it right now and from that, a little popup appears where I can either add something or I can see my upcoming things. It’s just a cool little tool. I wish Apple’s Calendar allowed me to do that type of thing. For me, it is a paid tool but, again, it syncs across all my devices. There’s an app on my iPad, an app on my iPhone, and an app on my computer. It really does work beautifully. Syncs in with Google Calendars, Apple’s Calendar, those types of things as well. If you already have calendars in different places, you can just use this app to pull in those calendars. There are four apps that I use for productivity.
The next category I want to talk about is analytics. Probably the app that I use the most on my phone as it pertains to my blogging, apart from Gmail, I think I’m probably in Gmail more, the second most would be Google Analytics. If you haven’t got this on your iPhone yet, you probably need to get it. It allows you to get a lot of the stats from Google Analytics that you would get from accessing it on your computer. It doesn’t give you everything, you can’t dig in as deep but the thing that I use it for is real time stats.
I can click the app on my phone and within seconds, I can see how many people are on my site right now. I just clicked it now and I can see that there’s 300 people in Digital Photography School viewing now. I can actually dig in and see where are they. I can see things like where they’re coming from, the source of those readers. I can look at any keywords that they might have used to get in there and it does allow me to see quite a bit. I can also dig into the main categories of Google Analytics, your audience, your acquisition, your behavior.
As I said, it doesn’t really dig in as deep as you can on your computer but for that type of stuff where you want to just see what’s happening on your site today, it gives you enough information. It allows me to, I guess, see if there’s a problem on my site. I probably would check in on Google Analytics on my phone 10 times during the day, just a really quick check, it’s a health check. Is everything okay? It’s okay, I move on, I’m not digging in too deep but it’s just good to know.
Previous to this, there would be times where I wouldn’t even know that my site has gone down or that there might be that there was an issue on my site because an alert that I might have set up didn’t come through. It does really allow me to get a sense of the health of my site.
The other app that I would put into these analytics category probably would also fit into a monetization category is AdSense. There’s an app that allows me to check in on my AdSense earnings, again, in the similar way to Google Analytics, it’s more of a health check for me. In the past, there have been days where there’s been a problem with my AdSense ads on Digital Photography School and I wouldn’t know there was a problem until the next day when I happen to check my AdSense stats on my computer. I’m not checking it all day everyday on my computer but just to know that I can check in at any time during the day, I have a sense of how much my AdSense should be at any given time of the day. I’m looking in there now and I can see that the total of the day so far is about normal and so, everything is okay. It allows me, I guess, to find those problems a little bit more easily as well. There are two apps that I would put into this Analytics category.
The next category I want to talk about is content. Of course, there’s different types of content. I’ll go through a few different types that I create on my phone. The first one is the CoSchedule app. I’m not going to talk too much about CoSchedule because we did a whole episode on this just a few episodes ago in episode 195. We use CoSchedule on ProBlogger as an editorial calendar and also for social sharing as well. It enables us to do some of that on the phone. I have to say I don’t use it a great deal on my iPhone, it is a little bit bitsy but on my iPad, I use it a bit. It is nice to know that I can go into the backend of my blog and edit posts and schedule posts and that type of thing through the CoSchedule app as well. It’s not something that I wouldn’t use everyday but it’s good to have it there when I need it.
One app that I do use everyday when it comes to content is Adobe Spark Post. Adobe Spark, again, it’s something we’ve mentioned a couple of times in the past. Adobe Spark is a great tool and in fact it’s a series of tools. There’s three, I think, Adobe Spark Post, Adobe Spark Page, and Adobe Spark Video. I use the Post one a lot. I use it to create social graphics and text overlay type images for blog posts as well. I love using this app on my iPad, especially. It’s nice on the iPhone but having that extra screen size on the iPad is just gorgeous.
The images that it allows you to create are fantastic. It’s a free app. I think you can pay to get an Adobe creative cloud account which does give you a few more features. But really, it’s amazing, what it allows to do. The quality of the images that it allows is just amazing. You can bring in your own images to use in a collage but there’s also some free images in there that you can use. Some of the images that are in that free library are pretty cool as well. I’m using Adobe Spark Post a lot.
I have also used the Adobe Spark Video app. This allows you to create short little videos that you might want to share on social media as well. It’s similar in some ways to the app that I talked about a few episodes ago, Lumen5, but it allows you to bring in your own audio clips as well. You could use it if you’ve got a podcast. You could bring in some of your audio and then put some images over the top of that as a teaser for your podcast as well. Adobe Spark Post and Video.
They do have another one called Page but it’s not something that I really need to use at all because it creates a little website for you and really, I don’t have any need for using that one.
Another one that I would use in the content section or two that I would use in the content section are for image editing, I use Snapseed and Lightroom. Adobe Lightroom, another app that you can use for editing your photos. It’s actually the tool that I use on my desktop to edit my real photos. I use that regularly on my desktop but also would occasionally edit photos on my phone using the Lightroom app. Snapseed is the other one. I love Snapseed. It’s a Google product. They bought it a year or two ago now. I used to pay for it and then Google made it free so it’s a free tool that you can use.
For me, it’s just very good for any editing of the images that you’ve got. Touching them up, adding a vignette, those types of things. You can do a little bit more on that than you could do through Instagram itself.
The last one that I’ll put into the content section is Google Drive. We, as a team, share most of our documents on Google Drive, whether that’s word processing documents, spreadsheets, most of that goes onto Google Drive as a team and to be able to access that on the go from my phone or iPad is great. I do use it to write blog posts into, particularly now that CoSchedule and Google Drive or Google Documents work quite well together. It’s just a seamless way to write a blog post. I don’t write blog posts on my iPhone but I do on my iPad. I’ve got a keyboard for that as well. If I’m writing something on my iPad, it goes into a Google Doc.
The next category that I talk about is social media. There are so many apps that you can use for your social media for scheduling, updating social media but what I actually do mostly is use the native apps to do my updating. I’ll talk about some of these a little bit later. When I asked in the Facebook group what apps people use, some people were using apps like, there’s one called Tailwind, which allow you to schedule posts on Instagram and Pinterest. If I’m putting something on Pinterest or something onto Instagram, I tend to use the Instagram app and the Pinterest app, probably because I’m not scheduling too much into those spaces.
I use the Facebook app for updating into Facebook. I use Facebook Pages as well to update into my pages. I use Twitter, the native Twitter app. I use the native Instagram app so I don’t really have anything to share with you on that front that’s going to be too groundbreaking, I have to say. But I’ll mention a couple of the other apps that other people use later.
Communications will be the other category that I want to talk about. We use Slack, as a team, for all our day-to-day chat, amongst ourselves as a team. We have a team area setup for ProBlogger, for those in my business who are working on the ProBlogger side of the business and another team area for Digital Photography School. Within each of those team areas, we have channels for specific aspects of the business. In the Digital Photography School team area, there’s a channel for development where our developers in there, Laney, who manages Digital Photography School’s in there, and anyone else that part of the business that’s relevant to be in that area, sees those messages.
We have an editorials channel as well. Our editor, Darlene, is in there, myself, and anyone else that’s relevant to that. We have a marketing channel which is just for those who need to see those sorts of messages. It allows us to have different chats going at any one time and not annoy everyone. It’s not like we just have a Facebook group for all of our team and everyone sees every message, we want to be able to really be specific with the types of chats that we’re having. There’s also private chats that go on as well between individuals or if I’m talking about an operational thing that’s not relevant to the rest of the team. It allows us to have those sort of the privacy types things as well.
Slack is the tool that we use as a team for all of that type of thing. It has lots of different integrations with other things as well so you can integrate it with Google Documents and that type of thing as well so you can be sharing documents in there.
Other communication tools that I use, Gmail. It’s probably the app that I use the most in my phone. I know there are plenty of other email providing tools out there but I find the native Gmail one really does it well for me. I guess the other apps that I’m using for communications would be Facebook Messenger. I don’t do a lot on there these day. It’s not so much for internal team communications but it is a useful tool from time to time to be chatting with other people or readers from time to time as well. I find most people have a Messenger account or Facebook account.
I do, from time to time also, use the native message app and phone app on my phone as well. But, interestingly, I don’t really use my phone app a whole heap these days on my phone. I use my phone other things these days as, I guess, as most of us do. I might prefer to talk via text if truth to be told.
A couple of other apps that I use in my business would be Google Chrome. It’s the browser that I use across all my devices. Again, I love how it increasingly is allowing what I do on one device to be seen on another device. If I bookmark things, say passwords, those types of things that can work across the different devices. Seeing history from one device to another is also great as well. I tend to use Chrome across all those devices. Safari would be my backup when occasionally, I would do need to jump into Safari if something is not rendering right on Chrome or if I’m having issues on Chrome.
The last app that I would use everyday is my Podcast app. Again, I know there are plenty of great podcasting apps out there but I tend to use the native Podcast app that Apple gives us as well. That’s probably because that’s what I started out using and everything is already in there and that’s already set up. But I find that it’s pretty intuitive to use as well and I don’t really have any problems with that. It’s something I use everyday, I listen to a lot of podcasts.
They’re the main apps that I use. In the Facebook group, I did ask a question, what apps do our community use. I found that really interesting. I actually created a bit of a word cloud of all the different things that people said, there must’ve been 60 or 70 people suggest, four or five apps each. There was a lot of apps mentioned. I created a word cloud and it was interesting to look up the most mentioned words and the most mentioned apps.
Number one on the list was Instagram, which I was kind of surprised about. I thought Facebook maybe, or Gmail, or that type of thing but Instagram definitely was number one. I was really surprised that Twitter was number two. A lot of people are talking about how Twitter, that people are moving away from it but it does look like a lot of people are still using the Twitter app as well. Interestingly, they are the native apps as well. Whilst there’s plenty of other tools out there that are available for people, they are certainly the most common apps mentioned.
Number three on the list was Evernote. It does seem that a lot of people are persistent with that particular app. I would be too if it was just on a couple of devices and getting the free version, I might end up going back to that. Pinterest wass number four, Google Analytics was number five and Buffer was number six.
Buffer does allow you to do some social sharing and scheduling as well, great tool. One that I have used over the years as well but, I guess, now that we do use CoSchedule for our social sharing, we haven’t had any before that. There are a few other apps that were mentioned in the group as well that I do want to touch on.
Trello was one that a number of people mentioned. Trello is a great tool. It’s not just an app, it’s actually a project management system, I guess. We’ve used it in our business in the past to manage some of our bigger projects. For example, when we were doing our redesign of ProBlogger and Digital Photography School, we setup a Trello board. It’s a difficult one to explain without you actually seeing it but I do encourage you to go and have a look at Trello if you haven’t heard it before.
It is great or managing projects amongst your team but I know a lot of bloggers do use it individually as well because it can be really useful in brainstorming and setting up systems for yourself, setting up to do lists. I know a lot of our readers use Trello for to do lists, for planning, for brainstorming. It’s a very visual tool that allows you to set up lists but then to move things around. Do check it out. I think it’s well worth looking at and it has apps for different devices as well.
Two tools that people mentioned in the group for scheduling on social media particularly on Instagram and Pinterest, for one of them, is the tool that I mentioned earlier, Later. Later allows you to schedule to Instagram. Tailwind allows you to schedule, I think, to Pinterest and Instagram, maybe some other social networks as well.
A couple of others that people mentioned, Google Keep is an alternative to a note taking app that allows you take notes, lists, to do list and also, I think you can add in images and those types of things as well. Pocket is another one that quite a few people mentioned in the group. It allows you to save articles or videos to view later, which is quite useful if you’re consuming a lot of content.
Two tools that people mentioned to create social graphics, Word Swag and Typorama. I have used both of them and have worked really well. Particularly if you want to do something more of a text overlay type social graphic, I would use those over Adobe Spark. Adobe Spark for me is better for simple text overlays but also for collages. I use Adobe Spark more for the collages. Something like Word Swag or Typorama are really good if it’s a more font rich experience, social graphic that you’re trying to create.
Dropbox is another one that quite a few people mentioned. We use Dropbox as well in our team although I don’t tend to use it on my phone a lot unless it’s an emergency. If I’m on the road and really need to access a document or something, I would use that app but it’s not something I’m using everyday.
Lastly, quite a number of people mentioned Asana. Asana is, I guess, an alternative to Slack in many ways. It’s a project management team communications kind of tool. I guess we haven’t used it because we have invested ourselves into Slack but it does look like a really great tool as well.
They are the tools that I use, the tools that were most mentioned when I asked our community in our Facebook group but I would love to hear what you use. What’s the top app that you use on your phone or your tablet, whether that’d be an Apple or whether that’d be an Android or something else. I would love to hear what you use. Head over to the Facebook group and I will link in our show notes today to a discussion that we’re having in the Facebook group at the moment on this particular topic.
You can find today’s show notes over at problogger.com/podcast/207, where I link to all the apps that I mentioned today and I’ll link into the Facebook group as well. Lastly, I just want to let you know that next week’s episode is going to be a great one. I’m really looking forward to presenting it to you. I’ve got Rachelle Miller, who is brilliant at Facebook, coming onto the show to talk about how to increase your organic reach in Facebook.
If you’re listening to this and this episode’s just come out, do look out for that one next week. If you are listening to this after it’s been already been released, you might even find the next episode there waiting to listen to as well. It’s episode 208 which will be coming out in a week’s time from today. Head over to the Facebook group, join the group if you’re not already in there, there’s over 8,500 people in there at the moment. Daily discussions going on where we’re sharing our challenges, our tips, and asking questions as well.
I look forward to chatting with you there. I hope you found today’s show useful. I’ll chat with you next week while we’re talking about Facebook.
How did you go with today’s episode?
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