TypePad Mobile: Moblogging, mo' often

TypePad jumps into the mobile blogging (moblogging) fray with an app to update blogs from your Symbian, Palm, and Windows Mobile smart phones.

Inspiration for a blog can come from anywhere--at any time--so you'd best be prepared. Lighter than your Wi-Fi-enabled laptop and more immediate than jotting journal notes is TypePad Mobile (for Symbian, Palm, and Windows Mobile,) a blog-updating app offered by TypePad for its paid subscribers.

TypePad Mobile in action
Blogging about mobile blogging from a mobile phone. (Credit: CNET Networks)

I evaluated TypePad Mobile on a gleaming HTC Vox S710 (watch Bonnie Cha's video review) running Windows Mobile 6. The smart phone's nice slider QWERTY keyboard and motion-sensitive vertical-to-horizontal display made for favorable testing conditions.

Begin with a TypePad.com blog. (Credit: CNET Networks)

You begin by logging into your TypePad account and choosing which blog to augment. (TypePad membership permits multiblog maintenance). Options are limited from there, but that's primarily the point of this purpose-built updating app. Choose "New Post" and begin typing away. One thing I'll say is that the mobile-blogging (or moblogging, as it's horrifyingly called) platform encourages brevity. I tend to be a, um, thorough blogger, which is time-consuming and fussy on a condensed mobile keyboard, even one as expansive as the Vox's.

More than brevity, TypePad Mobile encourages photojournalism, which is what gives moblogging (I shudder at this every time) its edge. A camera icon on the program's interface launches the smart phone's camera, which you operate from within the app. Saved photos load into a new post by default, which you can cancel, save, or publish after filling in the title and body. Camera preferences are called up from the smart phone's soft key. You can adjust photo quality, photo size, and whether you want the app to close the camera or save the photo without dropping it into a new post.

You can always insert any photo stored on your smart phone or expansion card into a post by selecting the empty photo box in an unpublished post (this is editing mode) and choosing "Photos." Selecting "camera" activates the convenient in-app snap-'n'-save process.

Photo preferences, not to be confused with camera preferences, offer options to resize uploaded photos to 640 pixels wide and delete photos from the device once they've been uploaded. The resizing option is intended to optimize for blogging photos that have been saved or transferred onto the phone. It doesn't much benefit images taken with TypePad Mobile's interface, since they are already optimized at one of the three predefined sizes found in the camera preferences.

TypePad.com updated
The blogs update live on TypePad.com. Sadly, I can\'t edit mistakes from my smart phone. (Credit: CNET Networks)

Publishing posts is a speedy operation over strong Wi-Fi, but one that demands some level of commitment. Users can only delete posts published through TypePad Mobile, but they won't be able to edit them until they sign into their online accounts.

I'm debating the merits of this pruned-down app. The app has so far published seamlessly, and does as it claims, but is that enough? On one hand, the limited management controls perform some crowd control, squeezing down what would be the ballooning storage demands of content-heavy blogs were the app to download all posts. This version of TypePad Mobile is a noble start, but I'm leaning toward a next-generation app that integrates some of TypePad.com's full-fledged content management interface, particularly the part that would let users selectively download, edit, and republish blogs remotely.

Until then, users must exit the app and point their native mobile- or Opera Mini browser to TypePad.com, contending with a somewhat squashed and cluttered interface, interminable scrolling, and any downloading or uploading lag time.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.