RSS
 

How to turn your blog into an app for iPhone

30 Aug
Picture of my blog as an app

woot!

Wow! Less than an hour ago I saw this tweet:


… and 50 minutes later I have an app for this blog! Amazing.

The low-down

www.bloapp.com is a new site which allows you to create an iPhone app out of your blog. The crucial things to know are:

  • it’s free
  • it’s incredibly straightforward
  • you retain your intellectual property
  • it works
    .

Scan me....

Get my app!

The way Bloapp works is that you download the Bloapp app, and then subscribe to blogs within it that have been ‘apped’. (That’s not a real word, I just invented it; I mean registered with bloapp, basically). A bit like the Stitcher radio app works. So, you can download the Bloapp app from iTunes here, and then you can subscribe to this blog either by searching for thewikiman or, more excitingly, scanning this QR code within the app itself! (By the way, if you scan this QR code outside of the app itself, it just takes you to the normal mobile version of this blog).

The details

You register for the site, and give the URL of your feed, name of your blog etc. Then you get to some very good customisation options – firstly you choose a visual theme. Here’s one I didn’t go with in the end:

Then you get to tweak it – the header appears at the top of the page, and the logo appears within the Bloapp app when you’re choosing which blog you want to read:

 

As you can see, it previews the header on the right so you know how it looks. You can then edit the fonts (both style and size) and the background image.

Once you’ve sorted all that, you need to add a meta-tag to your blog’s html. (It supports wordpress, blogger, tumblr, posterous and the rest, incidentally.) Then that’s it, your blog is registered and available via the app. You’re given the QR code with which to publicise it.

When you then go into the app on your iPhone and scan the QR code within the app it looks like this:

…and once you’ve done that, it goes into your bookmarked blogs, and that’s when the logo comes in to play, like this:

The home-screen of the blog displays your 3 most recent posts, and the posts once you go into them look great:

You can tweet links from within the app too, which is nice. And you get statistics from your Bloapp dashboard as to how many people have bookmarked your blog in the app.

Use in libraries

Making an app is incredibly expensive and / or incredibly expensive. I looked into it once before, and found a site that looked great and was known for being good value. I was excited right up until the bit that said ‘packages are available from just $250 a month!’. Wow. So this, if it continues past the beta stage, is a fabulous opportunity for libraries to get on-board with new technology at no cost or really any hassle at all. My advice is to go to www.bloapp.com and set your library’s blog app up (and your own blog, of course) – if you’re worried about the fact that it’s beta, you don’t have to publicise it yet.

People are reading more and more on phones. You know all the stats already (all phones will be smart phones by the end of the decade; we’ll access the internet more on phones than on PCs by the end of next year; people are preferring to read on apps than on mobile sites more and more, etc etc) so this has come along at a great time. Unlike the standard iphone widget you can install on wordpress.org blogs, this retains something of your blog’s visual identity, too.

Do it! And when you’ve done it, let me know so I can subscribe. :)

- thewikiman

 

{lang: 'en-GB'}
Print Friendly
 

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments
  • Ned Potter August 30, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    thewikiman blog? There's an app for that! http://t.co/0SYl20U About a new site which'll turn your library blog into an app, great tool. :-)

  • Ned Potter August 30, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    @gwynethjones No I'm not – have nearly signed up several times but not quite got there! Here's the post: http://t.co/0SYl20U

  • Nicole Fonsh August 30, 2011 at 4:48 PM

    So a @hacklibschool app?!!! RT @theREALwikiman: thewikiman blog? There's an app for that! http://t.co/fNb8cXO

  • Nicole Fonsh (@lhrtobos) August 30, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    So a @hacklibschool app?!!! RT @theREALwikiman: thewikiman blog? There’s an app for that! http://t.co/fNb8cXO

  • Gwyneth Jones - The Daring Librarian August 30, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Oh My Stars & Garters! How thrilling to have one of my Tweets featured on your page, my dear! And I’m thrilled that this site looks promising for solving as you said an expensive but craveworthy dillemma! Do keep us up to date as to how easy it is for end users to get your APP!
    Cheers!
    ~Gwyneth

  • thewikiman August 30, 2011 at 7:19 PM

    Ha, thanks Gwyneth! Are you going to do one? Takes 30 minutes, let me know if you do because I want to subscribe to it…

  • [...] been a lot of excitement on librarian blogs and twitter accounts today about Bloapp. The service converts your blog into an app… sort of. [...]

  • Ned Potter August 30, 2011 at 8:42 PM

    Want to turn your library blog into an app for iPhone? Here's how: http://t.co/0SYl20U

  • tixylix August 30, 2011 at 9:16 PM

    Hmm, I’m kind of with Hidden Peanuts there – what am I missing?

  • thewikiman August 30, 2011 at 9:41 PM

    Hi tixylix – for me it’s about the way people read on iPhones. I pretty much never type a URL into mine – if I read online at all it’s via links on twitter, but mostly I read via apps. I never go to the guardian’s or bbc’s websites (although they’re fine on mobiles); it’s a lot easier to click on the app and have it all right there. Convenient and quick. Sometimes if I have 3 minutes waiting for a train or whatever I’ll open Google Reader on my phone and comb through some stuff – I’d much rather open an app in that situation. Plus an app gives people a sense of ownership, which is something libraries traditionally struggle with.

    I completely agree that this shouldn’t detract from library websites being mobile ready, however. This is just a neat addition, in my opinion.

  • [...] from thewikiman blog The [...]

  • tixylix August 30, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    Fair enough! I’ve registered and stumbled on the step where you put the code in your blog design but will go back and have a play. These discussions have also meant I’ve checked how my blog looks on a mobile device and I was pleasantly surprised! It’s always good to be encouraged to look at new things so thanks for post (and reply).

  • thewikiman August 30, 2011 at 10:22 PM

    Yeah this is the most challenging aspect of the whole thing, I agree.

    As you say, always good to investigate new things!

  • Jo Alcock August 30, 2011 at 11:32 PM

    Thanks for sharing this Ned – particularly your comprehensive instructions! I’ve had a play to see how simple it is and was really impressed – I got myJoeyanne Libraryanne blog on there in about 30 minutes from start to finish (and that was mainly image editing!).

    I’m not totally convinced of the usefulness at the moment but if people start using Bloapp to read blogs rather than RSS (which seems to be losing popularity by the day) then it could definitely be good for libraries to get on board and it’s certainly worth trying for the minimal effort it takes to get it set up (the only potential problem I can see really is being able to add the verification code on institutional blogs which could be tricky for some).

  • Ned Potter August 31, 2011 at 10:23 AM

    How to turn your blog into an app for iPhone http://t.co/0SYl20U (slightly updated, and with interesting comment interaction.)

  • thewikiman August 31, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    Hey Jo, I really like what you did with yours! (I have subscribed, natch. :) ) Having the header and background image as a seamless whole is a very good idea.

    I think this is a nice thing to play with for now, good to be on there early and see where it goes. As I said to tixylix, it suits the way I use my iPhone to read – I’ll definitely be going to your app first to read your blog from now on, for example.

  • [...] been a lot of interesting chatter on the interwebs the past couple of days about a new application for the iPhone that enables you to [...]

  • Ian August 31, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    Hi Ned. One thing I am confused about the more I think about it (and this is probably due to not having played with it), is it just through visiting the ‘bookmarked blogs’ page that you get to see the latest posts? How does the RSS aspect actually work? It seems to me like it could be a bit awkward if you have subscribed to a whole load of blogs (would you have to open each ‘app’ up to read it?).

  • Ian August 31, 2011 at 2:44 PM

    Sorry, when I say ‘RSS aspect’ I mean the bit that gives it the advantage over an RSS reader.

  • thewikiman August 31, 2011 at 2:57 PM

    Hey Ian, as I said over at Chad’s blog it doesn’t really do that RSS stuff – it doesn’t aggregate feeds in any way. Each blog is its own app (albeit within a wider app) – so to read that blog, you go to the bookmarks and open the relevant app.

    I have a folder within Google Reader called ‘Absolutely essential’ which I check first when I’m short on time (increasingly it’s the only set of blogs I check these days; yours is in there by the way :) ) – if all the blogs in there had this app, that would be ideal. I’d subscribe to all of them via the app (whilst maintaining my Google Reader subscription, of course) and then check them in the ’5 minutes spare here and there’ scenarios I’ve already described, and continue to read the rest of the blogs via the usual Reader method…

  • Ian August 31, 2011 at 3:06 PM

    That sounds to me rather like having all the blogs bookmarked on your homepage then? In that you go to the bookmark and open the site. Does it indicate that there is a new post on the ‘app’ so you don’t have to check each one? I’m imaging that you view your bookmarked blogs on this screen: http://thewikiman.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/photo1-200×300.png

  • Bloapp August 31, 2011 at 3:25 PM

    Wikiman, thanks for the post.
    Ian, we are currently working on the new posts notification, it will be in the next major update, together with many other exciting new features.

  • thewikiman August 31, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    I don’t think it’s that much like having all the blogs bookmarked on your homepage, because that would take up loads of space! But this is all from one button… But I get what you mean.

    Plus, see Bloapp’s response. :)

  • Ian August 31, 2011 at 7:15 PM

    Thanks mysterious Bloapp person! I certainly think that would be a good development. At present I don’t really see the practical advantage in the app over using a Reader or bookmarking a blog to my home screen and organising them in folders (the cosmetic benefits of having an app aren’t really of interest). But a new post notification system would certainly make it an interesting tool.

    Btw kudos for being proactive in engaging with criticism!

  • Ned Potter August 31, 2011 at 9:22 PM

    By the way, if anyone (in addition to @joeyanne) has actually 'apped' their blog (http://t.co/0SYl20U) lemme know so I can subscribe! :-)

  • Emily Thompson September 1, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Kinda awesome! : blog? There’s an app for that! http://t.co/lxV3uHT via @zite

  • [...] How to turn your blog into an app for iPhone ” thewikiman (thewikiman.org) [...]

  • bloapp (@bloapp) September 6, 2011 at 6:25 AM

    thanks @theRealwikiman for your post http://t.co/NOtSqUR #bloapp #review

  • Bloapp September 6, 2011 at 6:27 AM

    Ian, you are welcome! And thanks for all the feedback and constructive criticism, it will all help us to improve the product further.

  • Amy September 6, 2011 at 11:07 PM

    Thanks for the tip about Bloapp. I am launching a new blog this week and the ability to promote the iPhone app access would be awesome. I just ran through the steps above and when I choose the bookmark for your blog, I receive an error that says “Oops….The blog seems not accessible at the moment.” I tried 3 times. What does that mean and why is it happening? Does it happen all the time?

  • thewikiman September 7, 2011 at 7:21 AM

    Hey Amy – I’ve not seen that happen so I’m afraid I have no idea. Maybe Bloapp themselves will reply this?

    Would also recommend checking out Red Foundry if you want to build something slightly more advanced…

  • Amy September 7, 2011 at 7:39 AM

    Just to let you know, I kept trying and it eventually displayed your blog. I just checked again and it still displays it. Will it ever be able to display more than the last 3 posts? Just wondering.

  • Aine September 8, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    Very excited! Just added our work blog (still need to tweak it) but this is a great find. Thanks!

  • MissBun (@MissBun33) September 8, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Great tip. is there an anroid one i wonder. RT @only1loopie How to turn your blog into an app for iPhone http://t.co/9rw3WIY

  • Tamara Cox September 12, 2011 at 12:11 AM

    Had to give it a try. Very cool. My middle school students will be so impressed with me:)

  • thewikiman September 12, 2011 at 10:35 AM

    Excellent!

  • Bloapp September 20, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Hi all, good news, Android version of Bloapp is now live! Please visit our blog blog.bloapp.com for details.

  • [...] Bloapp takes an RSS feed for your site and makes it available as an app within the Bloapp service. (More details from Ned Potter here). After having a look at it, I didn’t feel it offered enough functionality for a mobile [...]

  • Belinda January 23, 2012 at 7:21 PM

    Good thing I came across this article. I’ve been trying to create an app for my own blog and I need a step by step guide. Thanks!

  • Post a comment

    Threaded commenting powered by interconnect/it code.