What Is the WordPress Mobile App? – Review 201913 min read01/05/2019
The WordPress mobile app is a free tool that allows website owners and administrators to manage their blogs and corporate online resources on the go wherever they are. With this application, you can carry the overall core of this content management system right in your pocket. At least, this is exactly how users may think when installing the app. Is it as powerful as the web version? Our WordPress app review will sort things out.
There are three versions of mobile apps for WordPress: Android, iOS, and Windows. All versions support both self-hosted blogs and sites hosted on the wordpress.com server. If you use wordpress.com as hosting provider, the only thing you need to do to start using the WordPress app is to install it from your official repository (Google Play or Apple App Store) and sign in to your account. If you host your site on a third-party server, then the next paragraph is a must-read for you.
Installing the WordPress app is as easy as the installation of any other mobile app. However, you should do a few manipulations before in order to make the app work properly. In this paragraph, you will learn how to Install the WordPress mobile app in a proper way without any coding or complex configurations. You only need to activate another plugin and make sure that the app will be able to connect to your site.
Configure your XML-RPC
To work properly, the WordPress.org mobile app uses your XML-RPC file that provides specifications on how WordPress should communicate with other systems. In your case, one of the other systems is the mobile app you’re going to use. That’s why this file shouldn’t block other systems. Check your XML-RPC file by visiting https://your-site-address/xmlrpc.php. You’re supposed to see a blank webpage with the following sentence: XML-RPC server accepts POST requests only.
However, there’s the other side of the coin. The thing is that your XML-RPC file configures remote access to your admin panel. In other words, by allowing this remote access for the WordPress mobile app, you also simplify a brute force attack for hackers. In my WordPress cybersecurity tips, you can learn how to disable this file to protect your site from brute force attacks.
Although, you should remember that as soon as you disable XML-RPC you will no longer be able to use the WordPress mobile app. Therefore, you should decide which is more important for you: another security measure or the capability to manage your website with your mobile device wherever you are.
Install the JetPack plugin
When you make sure that your XML-RPC is accessible, install JetPack plugin by Automattic. This plugin will connect your WordPress app to the WordPress.com server. You can install and activate the plugin just as you usually install any other plugin using the WordPress admin panel. Once activated, the plugin will offer you to enable the recommended features. Go to Settings sections and click on the button Enable Recommended Features on the top of the page.
The plugin will also offer you to enable each feature manually. You can get to this later. Besides establishing a connection between the server and WordPress app, JetPack provides a set of such cybersecurity features as protection against brute force attacks and website downtime monitoring. This makes JetPack a good Sucuri Security alternative. The premium version offers automated backups, spam filtering, and malware scanning.
In addition, the free plugin offers the lazy image load feature that can significantly improve your site speed. In other words, web browsers will load your site images once they appear in the visible area rather than loading the whole webpage at once, thus making users wait longer to see the complete page. Remember that faster website speed can boost your WordPress search engine optimization.
Without JetPack, many features will be unavailable in your app. For example. you won’t be able to edit published or draft posts. Comments and media files will also be unavailable. Instead, you will see a notification: “Media couldn’t be refreshed at this time”. You will only be able to edit pages, add new posts and media files, and visit your site through the mobile app. It won’t be able to download what you’ve already uploaded or created.
Install the WordPress app
Now, you can install the WordPress mobile app. You can do it just as you install any other mobile application on your mobile device. If you use an Android smartphone, then open your Google Play app and search for the WordPress application. Then click on the Install button and wait until the installation process is complete. Once opened, the app will ask you to sign in to your wordpress.com account and enter credentials for your site admin panel.
The WordPress mobile app has almost as many features as the desktop version does. The question is whether all of them work in a proper way. The app definitely needs some time to synchronize data since it doesn’t display all your posts, comments, and media files once you open it. As soon as the mobile application retrieve them, you can use all its features and benefits.
In the Stats section, you check Jetpack reports about your site visitors, webpage views, likes, and comments. You can view this data in reference to a particular day including today, week, month, or year. The WordPress app also shows your performance for the whole time. However, it starts collecting data from the moment you install JetPack. Therefore, data may be incorrect because it doesn’t involve traffic that has come to your site before the plugin installation.
The app also provides stats and graphs that display traffic sources, the number of clicks on links published in your posts, countries from where your traffic is coming, and even the most popular keywords that generate your traffic. I compared this data with the Google Analytics report and find out that it’s different but quite similar. When it comes to a number of site visitors, the difference didn’t exceed 10%.
The Activity section contains a registry of actions made by you or other users. Here, you can find information about login attempts, updates, and comments. In addition, you can click on each comment entry, read it, and check its status: whether it’s “Comment awaiting approval” or “Approved”. However, you can’t modify, approve, or delete comments in the Activity log. Furthermore, the app doesn’t show which of your posts a particular comment is referring to.
Once you click on the Site Pages section, you will see a list of your published pages. There you can find subsections with drafts, scheduled, and trashed pages. The app provides a few options for each page:
- View (you can preview your pages)
- Set parent (you can set a parent page for each page in the list)
- Move to Draft (you can remove your page from the front-end)
- Move to Trash (with this option, you can delete your page)
By clicking on one of your pages in the list, you can open a text editor and alter your page. The editor contains the same functions as the initial desktop one: you can change a level of subtitles and add hyperlinks, images, quotes, code, etc. You can also edit your text in the HTML mode. Unfortunately, if you added some extra options to the WordPress editor, they will be unavailable in the mobile app.
However, when I tried to update a page, I got a push notification saying: “Upload failed for “Contact us”. The app saved my added text on the Contact us page as “Local changes”. In other words, my changes have been only saved in the app rather than on the front end. Moreover, clicking on the button Discard local changes had no results: the Local changes phrase didn’t disappear. Indeed, my XML-RPC was blocking app requests.
The WordPress mobile app also enables you to edit or remove published and draft posts as well as add new ones. This feature provides the same text editor for both pages and posts. In addition, you can choose whether you want to publish your post immediately, save as a draft, select a specific date to plan an automatic publication. Furthermore, you can make your post private and allow only those readers who have a password to read it. You can assign a password in post settings.
With the WordPress app, you can set a featured image, categories, and tags for your posts. You also can type in a slug, choose a post template, enter an excerpt, and set location. When publishing a new post you can see an error: “The Jetpack site is inaccessible or returned an error: transport error – HTTP status code was not 200 (403) [-32300]”. If you have issues with adding your posts and pages, add the code below to your .htaccess file:
allow from all
The WordPress mobile app allows you to add files to your media library. Any content you upload to your posts so stored here. In the Media section, you can check all your files uploaded to your files. This section contains the following tabs:
Despite the existence of such tabs as documents and videos, you can add neither video or PDF files to your media library using the WordPress app. When clicking on the Upload media button in either Documents or Videos section, the app offers you to add only photo or video. Perhaps, developers are planning to add the capability to upload other types of content in the future.
You can take photo and video right in the app, upload it from your mobile device, or choose media files from Giphy or Free Photo Library. In the Media section, you edit image title as well as add caption, description, and Alt text to your visual content. In addition, you can check such information as file URL, name, type, image dimensions, and upload date. You also can share a particular file via messengers, delete it, or download it to your smartphone from the WordPress media library.
The Comments section has the following tabs: All, Pending, Approved, Trashed, and Spam. However, this section is worthless since the app doesn’t show any comments posted on your website either before the JetPack installation or after. You only can read your new comments in the Activity section without a capability to edit, approve, or delete them.
The Themes section contains a list of installed themes you can activate and customize. You also can search for a specific theme by clicking on the magnifying glass icon on the top-right corner. However, you can’t customize your theme right in the application. Instead, the WordPress mobile app will redirect you to the admin panel webpage with your mobile browser. Thus, it makes no sense to use the app for WordPress theme customization.
The WordPress app enables you to manage user privileges with your mobile device. By clicking on the People section, you can check a list of your team members who manage your website. You change user privileges by choosing a particular user name. Available roles include:
- SEO Manager
- SEO Editor
You also can add and remove users in the People section as well as check a list of your subscribers and email followers.
You can manage your plugins right in the WordPress app. You can install new plugins and activate them or deactivate and delete already installed plugins. When you click on the Plugins section, you will see a list of your plugins at the top and suggested plugins grouped as featured, popular, and new. When you click on the installed plugin, you will see the options that allow you to activate the plugin and enable its automatic updates.
On the same screen, you also can find information about the plugin: its description, version, frequently asked questions and answers, open its changelog, learn about the installation process, and check reviews. In other words, you can open the wordpress.org plugin page in the app or click on the link referring to its homepage. For plugin configuration, the app will redirect it to the admin panel page through your mobile browser.
With the WordPress mobile app, you can enable automatic social sharing. In the Sharing section, you can connect your social media accounts. As soon as you publish your new post, the app will automatically share it with your friends through your connected accounts. Available social media networks are Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and Twitter.
JetPack provides sharing buttons for your posts. With this feature enabled, you can configure these buttons in the mobile app. Click on the Manage button in the Sharing buttons subsection to set social sharing buttons for your posts. The list of available social networks for user sharing is much longer than for automatic sharing. By clicking on corresponding buttons, readers can share your posts via Reddit, Pinterest, and other social media networks and messengers. You also can configure the button style and label text.
The WordPress mobile app provides limited site configuration functionality. Like the web app, it has General, Writing, and Discussion sections. You can set the site title, tagline, and timezone. You also can ask search engines not to index your website by choosing the Hidden option in Privacy settings. Unlike the web app, the mobile application doesn’t allow you to change your site URL. You also can’t set posting via email using the app.
In the Discussion subsection, you can configure commenting on your site as well as on the web app. You also can access JetPack security settings. You can enable site’s uptime monitoring, notifications, brute force attack protection, and two-factor authentication for wordpress.com login. Ultimately, you can set basic configuration for your WordPress website with the mobile app.
Advantages and disadvantages
If you’ve ever dreamed to be able to configure your site on-the-go, then you should download a mobile app for your WordPress blog. It’s hard to configure but easy to use. It has both benefits and drawbacks.
- On-the-go posting.
- You can access basic site configuration with your mobile device.
- You can add images and videos to your posts.
- You can edit your posts in the HTML mode.
- Frequent error: “There was a problem loading your data, refresh your page to try again.”
- Text editor contains no functions added with additional plugins.
- Required complex XML-RPC configuration makes your WordPress site more vulnerable to brute force attacks.
- You can’t add PDF and audio files to your media library using the WordPress app.
- You can’t manage site visitors’ comments.
- Theme and plugin configuration is unavailable in the app. Instead, you need to open settings in your mobile browser.
- Limited settings.
- You can’t edit title and description meta tags generated with SEO plugins.