Last week RED When Excited launched a new iPhone app that allows you to publish to your EE-powered website right from your phone: iExpression. This is a native iPhone app, which you need to purchase and download through the Apple App Store (store link).
RWE sent me a promo copy of the app to test out. I would best describe it as a EE-focused version of MarsEdit (which I use to publish this blog) for the iPhone. Like MarsEdit, it also works using the Metaweblog API (there’s a module that ships with EE 1 & 2) and inherits all of its limitations. While you can use custom fields (you match them to basic Metaweblog API-supported fields), you cannot use specialized fields like Relationships, Playa, Matrix, checkboxes etc. This limitation is in the Metaweblog API implementation; even MarsEdit doesn’t support this functionality.
The app itself mostly uses the standard interface of an iPhone app. It supports multiple sites and multiple channels; you just have to set each one individually through the interface. I tested EE Insider on the app and it just took a few minutes to set up (I already had the Metaweblog API module in EE configured for MarsEdit).
Features and Function
iExpression lets choose images from your Photo Library or take a new photo to include with a new entry. The image uploads when you post the new entry and uses the upload destination you specify in the Metaweblog API configuration. It worked flawlessly for me but the iExpression did include some junk markup with the post, wrapping my image in a
div and a
br tag with a clear in it.
Whenever you post new entries from your iPhone app, you can have iExpression automatically tweet an announcement on your Twitter feed. This functionality doesn’t yet use OAuth, so I’m suspecting it’ll break within the next month when Twitter switches off their basic API authentication. I haven’t tested this part but the app claims to also track “tweet-backs” and click-throughs.
Additionally, iExpression will let you create offline drafts (on an airplane, for example) and then post those entries when you have a data connection again.
Requirements and Cost
The app works with both EE 1 and 2 (because the Metaweblog API module is included in both) and will run on any current iOS device (3.1.3 or later). Their website includes a photo of the iPad version of the app but that is not yet released as it is waiting on approval from Apple. It will be a free upgrade for existing customers.
As noted above, the app is only available through the Apple App Store and currently costs $9.99.
If you run a blog without the need for a lot of custom fields and like to publish on the go, this seems like a nice choice. EE Mobile Admin (a mobile web interface for your control panel) has better support for EE 1.6 fieldtypes (it doesn’t support EE 2) and, I think, a nicer interface. It may be because of the screen size but I found iExpression hard to use at times, especially when trying to switch between fields while posting an entry. I had one or two other UI niggles but nothing that made the app unusable.
I don’t think I would use the iPhone version of iExpression very much simply because it’s too uncomfortable to write on the phone in portrait mode (iExpression doesn’t currently support landscape mode). If I did need to post something in a pinch, the EE 1.6 control panel works fine on Mobile Safari.
However, I am looking forward to trying out iExpression on the iPad. I spend a lot of time on my iPad reading and writing and it would be nice to have a dedicated app for drafting posts and articles for this website.