Developed by Mobelux, and formerly known as Tumblrette, the official Tumblr iPhone app has now arrived.
Tumblr is essentially the short ‘n sweet side of blogging: Posts are ultra-snappy, comprised of mixed-media uploads such as images, quotes, audio and video. The service is free, via Tumblr.com, and, since the site is so intuitively designed, it’s incredibly easy for new users to dive straight in.
The result of this platform, paired with such a simple and effective interface, is the ultra-diverse Tumblr community. Browsing through various tumblelogs is like sifting through the Lost and Found Department of the entire Internet. It’s a beautiful mess of everything and anything, from the shocking to the spectacular.
Over on the iPhone, the official Tumblr app integrates all the features of the main site, plus a couple of unexpected welcome additions.
Get Ready to Tumble
The app is split in to three panels. First-time users are initially presented with the Tumblr Settings panel (accessible only via the app itself as opposed to the iPhone’s Settings app). From here you’re able to sign in to your Tumblr Dashboard, register a new account and configure Dashboard settings.
Although there’s a Sign up for a Tumblr Account button, the registration process doesn’t occur in-app. This means that tapping the button drops out of the app and moves in to Safari; it works, but it’s certainly not an elegant way of handling new registrations.
Furthermore, the Settings panel displays the name of your primary tumblelog but doesn’t display the name, or otherwise even mention the existence of, any other tumblelogs you may own or contribute to. For prolific users, this could be quite a drawback.
Once registered and set up, you can configure the Settings panel to always display an iPhone formatted version of the Tumblr Dashboard every time the app is loaded. The Sites panel displays your Tumblr Dashboard — an overview of new content posted to tumblelogs that you’re following.
Clicking on a post in the Dashboard allows you to view it in full, plus there are two buttons: Like and Reblog. Clicking the Reblog button allows you to post content from other tumblelogs straight to yours, automatically crediting the source too.
Rather unexpectedly, and again quite inelegantly, clicking Reblog actually loads the standard web-based Reblog page embedded within the app. It feels clunky to have the standard web-interface within the app and ends up being ineffective for quick-fire tumbling.
Those prolific users that I mentioned earlier may be pleased to note that the Dashboard panel provides quick access to all tumblelogs of which you’re a member. The drawback, though, is that there’s still no configuration options on these pages — it’s simply an embedded page within the app’s browser — so there’s no clear benefit to this feature and as such it feels half-baked.
Mixing Your Media
The Post panel is where the action happens. There are six different post types that can be sent directly to your tumblelog: text, photo, quote, link, chat and audio.
Without copy/paste on the iPhone, the text, quote, link and chat options seem particularly redundant. There is apparently a bookmarklet available, although I couldn’t find it in spite of various Google and Tumblr.com searches.
The other two posting options, photo and audio, are downright brilliant, grin-inducing joys. The former allows you to snap images on the iPhone camera, add text and then upload directly to your tumblelog. The latter is exactly the same, except instead of imagery, it’s all about making sound recordings.
Being able to get away from the computer, snapping and capturing images and sound from the world at large, is exactly what Tumblr is about. It sums up the essence of tumbling while furthering the concept and freeing Tumblr users from their desktop computers.
The inelegant registration process and embedded web page for reblogging only stand out as issues because, the rest of the time, the Tumblr iPhone app is so coherent in its design and ease of use. These niggles will, I hope, get resolved in future updates.
As for the post options for chat, links, quotes and text, these will become incredibly useful once copy/paste is introduced to the iPhone.
The app comes together when you find yourself out on the streets, wanting to capture a moment, an incredible sight, or an odd overheard conversation. The photo and audio features that make this possible are deliciously addictive.
If you’re a regular Tumblr user, or you’ve got an eye (or ear) for interesting happenings when you’re out and about, the Tumblr app will be your ideal companion.