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Hands on with Blogger for iPhone

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Google (s goog) added yet another app to its stable of software for the iPhone (s aapl) on Thursday. This time, it’s the official Blogger app, which lets users publish and edit posts to Google’s blogging service. I know what you’re thinking: Google has a blogging service? Yes, it does, and once upon a time it was the go-to option for those looking to publish blogs for free on the web.

That was before Google acquired the property in 2003, bringing co-founder Evan Williams, who would go on to co-found Twitter, into the fold for a brief spell. Blogger has a storied history, but in recent years, competition from Tumblr, Posterous and WordPress has taken the shine off of this particular apple. Google’s decision to bring iOS editing tools out for the service is a smart move, but mostly one that looks a little like playing catch-up, since the above-mentioned services all have similar apps out already.

The Blogger apps work very well, though. You sign in with your Google credentials, and then it puts you right into a composition window for your most recently active Blogger blog, if you already have one. I’d forgotten that I actually have quite a long list of Blogger sites, none of which are active any longer. Still, it’s kind of nice to see that Google is ready and willing in case I want to go back to publishing artsy poetry critiques like I did back in college.

The interface is very spare, providing you with all the tools you need on the top and bottom bars, and leaving a large open space in the middle for uncluttered composition. Transitions happen quickly, and as soon as you edit any of the content fields, the back button turns into a save button. That actually might not be ideal if you want to revert changes you’ve made, but for a quick, light mobile blogging experience it fits the bill. Adding photos from your library or the camera, as well as location info, is handled through three easy access buttons at the bottom of the composition window.

Additional options allow you to quickly switch between your active blogs or choose the default size for posted images, and you can quickly check out what your blog currently looks like on the web, too.

For a barebones editor, Blogger has all your bases covered, in terms of being able to post, change and automatically update your blog’s content. But Google once again seems oblivious of Apple’s larger-screened devices; Blogger works on the iPad, but only in compatibility mode. It’s especially annoying because for an app like this that features a very minimal user interface, a simple port for the iPad’s resolution wouldn’t be asking much.

I left behind my Blogger blogs a long time ago, and though Google got a lot of things right with this app, there isn’t anything there to turn my head away from more recent services like Tumblr or Posterous. And the spartan nature of Google’s app suggests that’s what it wants to accomplish. Anyone excited by this app’s arrival, or is it a case of too little, too late?

Disclosure: Automattic, maker of, is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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