Buffer for iPhone, share content at the right time


Buffer is a great service. Its forte is enabling you to share content directly from where you are reading. Better still, Buffer allows you to set when the posts are published, providing you with a tool to share at optimal times, thus maximise your potential audience.

The team at Buffer have provided a myriad of ways to share out content via their service. Alongside extensions for Chrome and Safari there are integrations with ifttt, an Android app and, of course, an iPhone app. I am going to concentrate on the iPhone app in this review.

Before getting into the detail of the app, it’s worth summarising how to use Buffer.

The Buffer Service

So, we’ve established what Buffer is but how does it work?

Imagine the scenario. You are reading an article in your favourite browser and decide that it’s worthy of sharing with your followers (Buffer provides posting to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn at present, with more to come). If you are in Chrome or Safari, you can share directly from the Buffer extension. You can also share directly from Google Reader via email (or by the clever use of ifttt) or via a bookmarklet in Safari on your iPhone or iPad.

However, it’s early morning and you know that the majority of your followers won’t see the post if you put it out now. You want to put the post out at a time when you know it will reach a maximum audience. Ok, you can copy the link into your Twitter client or compose an email and save to drafts. Then set a reminder to prompt you to post the content at a more suitable time. It would be much easier to post directly from where you are into a service that allows you to schedule (in advance) when the post goes out. This is where Buffer comes in.

Logging in to Buffer via your browser, you can set up a schedule or “Buffering pattern”, allowing your posts to leave your Buffer at predetermined times, reaching your target audience at the optimal time.

Buffer has built in some analytics into the service which can be used to determine when your posts are receiving the most attention. Using the statistics provided (each post is time stamped) you can then tweak your Buffering pattern accordingly. The analytics provided include how many clicks a link has received, what the potential reach was, how may retweets and mentions the post achieved as well as how many times someone added it to their favourites.

The app

So, you have been posting to your Buffer and have established a list of scheduled tweets. You are happy that your Buffering pattern puts out your posts at optimal times.

The iPhone app offers an array of useful features to help you both post content as well as manage the content already in your Buffer.

Edit

Opening the app presents your buffer, your list of scheduled posts. From here you have numerous options.

Tapping a post opens it for editing. The edit screen offers up a few options including link shortening (you can use your bit.ly account by entering the details in the web page), a delete button and an icon to push the post out immediately. Tapping the Add button in the top right hand corner adds the post to your buffer.

Reorder

From the main Buffer screen it is also possible to reorder the posts. Tap the Reorder button in the top left of the screen and you can then simply drag posts up and down the list. Tap save in the top right of the screen when done and your reordered list is ready to post according to your schedule.

Create

Again from the main Buffer screen, tapping on the pen icon in the top right hand corner of the screen opens the compose screen. As mentioned already, there are options to shrink the URL, delete the post, to post it immediately or to add it to your buffer.

Analyse

Along the bottom of the screen are navigation icons for Analytics and Settings.

The Analytics screen offers a subset of the information that is available on the dashboard of the web interface. A list of posted articles are presented, each individually time stamped, and tapping on a post opens up the statistics screen. The app gives statistics on how many clicks a link has received as well as the potential reach.

Settings

The settings screen provides a means to install the bookmarklet in mobile Safari, add your unique Buffer email address to your contacts (this unique address is used to send posts to your Buffer via email), refresh your profiles, logout and invite friends to the service.

The iPhone app provides a great way to manage your Buffer of posts on the move. It allows you to reorder, create or edit existing posts and analyse the popularity of the content you have already put out.

Conclusion

The simplicity of the app makes it easy to use, at no point getting in the way of the core tasks of managing your content. Buffer have kept the app lightweight which means that navigating through menus is quick and easy. Reordering your list, editing posts or creating new posts is very straightforward and the app performs very well

Best of all Buffer is free, including the apps. Of course there are paid options but the fundamental service is free. You can have up to 10 posts in your buffer at any one time and you can link one service (Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn).

Could it be improved? I think so. I’d like to be able to see available statistics alongside the posts at the top level of the Analytics screen. This would provide a better comparative view of the posts against the times they were posted. Clicking a post could then lead to more detailed statistics, like those available on the website.

I wouldn’t hesitate in giving the Buffer service 8/10. I would like to see some improvements to the analytics, perhaps a graph of posts over selectable time periods to enable peak times to be identified. Suggested Buffer patterns would also be very welcome.

The iPhone app gets a very worthy 7/10. As mentioned above, a revamp of the analytics screen and the addition of more statistics would push this score up. The Buffer website gives details on the service, pricing and all available extensions, apps and more. The iPhone app is available, for free, from the iTunes app store.

Springpad v3.0… Sporting a redesign

Springpad has released a sizeable refresh of its iOS app, adding a much more social feel to the whole experience.

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The UI has been radically redesigned (I’m still pondering over whether I prefer it or the previous version) and the iOS apps now offer sharing options. When creating a notebook you are given the option to make it private or public (a word of warning that the default option is public….. I don’t like that).

Adding content is interesting, with the Smart Bar offering up a number of suggestions based on what you start typing in. I found this a little annoying as I wanted to create a note. I typed “test” into the input field and tapped to “create a note with the title test”. However, as I tapped to create the note, a list of suggestions appeared, pushing the “create note” option to the bottom of the list and resulting in me selecting to add a book to my notebook instead.

I’ve also noticed that the iPad and iPhone apps haven’t synchronised properly. One particular notebook has 5 notes on the iPhone but 10 on the iPad. None of my attempts to force the two to synchronise has worked. One to keep an eye on.

Jury is out on the refresh. I’ll use it for a few days before passing final judgement.

I don’t think it will threaten my Evernote Pro subscription.

How to view page source on an iOS device

Thanks to Tweetmeme, I discovered this article by OSX Daily on viewing page source on an iOS device.

Setting up the bookmarklet takes just a few seconds and gives a nicely formatted output of the page source, including clickable links.

I find it a little slow to run but useful nonetheless.

In the comments on the OSX Daily article, there is also mention of a service called Snoopy which also allows you to “snoop” on the source code. Again, very useful, although links aren’t clickable.

Useful tools for spying on the code behind websites.

 

 

Wondering if you should buy a 3G or WiFi only iPad?

When it comes to the ipad, I am often asked whether the buyer should go for the WiFi only model or if they should consider the 3G model.

I’ve owned an iPad for several months now and use it a lot….a heck of a lot. In fact I find that 90% of what I used to do on my trusty old netbook is now carried out on the iPad. I blog from it, manage my inboxes, Twitter and other social networks on it, I research, browse and communicate from it. Most of what I do online I do on the iPad. It is that good.

I own a WiFi only model. For the most part that has been fine. I don’t travel a lot and when I do it’s typically a planned event and (where possible) I choose locations with plentiful WiFi access either on site or nearby (I need my digital fix).

So, would I recommend saving those extra pounds or dollars and sticking with the WiFi only model? No, I wouldn’t. My advice is always thus….. if you can afford the 3G model, buy the 3G model.

We are increasingly reliant on a data connection to manage our busy lives. It is fast becoming a second oxygen supply. With the 3G model you have a data connection available for a much larger percentage of time.

I thought I managed well with just a WiFi only iPad. However, as I have just upgraded the iPhone from my trusty old 3GS, I now have the ability to tether the iPad to the new iPhone. The result is obvious…. I am now using the iPad much more than I ever did before (and having to manage my data allowance very carefully).

If you are in the market for an iPad and wondering if you should stump up the extra cash and get a 3G version my advice is do it.

Of course…. it may be worth waiting a couple of months (if rumours are true…. they almost certainly are). iPad 3 is on the way and promises to be awesome.

I am @icraigt on Twitter.

 

Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad

This is typed with the new Logitech Tablet Keyboard for iPad. The feel is very good. Key layout is reminiscent of the Apple keyboard in that the keys are physically spaced from one another.

The key action is very satisfying, with just the right level of resistance allowing for the fingers to depress each key positively without requiring too much pressure (but of course offering enough resistance that keys are not depressed accidentally).

It’s also nice having the basic punctuation commands at the finger tips, compared to the onscreen keyboard, allowing for much aster typing. the command and ALT keys are also very useful, allowing for quick movement of the cursor to the end or beginning of a sentence (for example).

Overall I am very impressed with it. The iPad sits in the accompanying stand very well, even with the iPad in it’s cover (I have a first generation iPad with the Apple cover). There is a little pull out extension that allows the iPad to sit at a shallower angle.

It’s a great piece of kit. Response is perfect. I can type reasonably fast when I get going (albeit rather unconventionally) and the iPad and iPhone keep up with every key press.

I picked mine up from Amazon (affiliate link) for £40. Most places (at least when I was shopping around) have it for £50.

I highly recommend this one. I’m very happy I bought it.

I am @icraigt on Twitter.

Blogsy…. testing

I’ve just downloaded Blogsy after watching a couple of the tutorial videos. It seems like a great way to connect your various media streams to your blogs, making photo and image selection (and video) very easy when drafting a blog post. The drag and drop (from your Picasa, Flickr, YouTube accounts) feature works very well indeed. The image below was dragged from my Picasa albums in just a couple of tap

The interface seems fairly straightforward and the app runs very well on my (old!) iPad 1. I was concerned that performance might be lacking on the old iPad but it runs very well indeed.

Anyway, just an initial post to try it out. I shall post more thoughts on it later, when I’ve had chance to use it more.
So far, so good!

I am @iCraigt on Twitter.

Goodbye iOS Notes app

Back in October I wrote a post stating how I was using the iOS Notes app again, following the introduction of iCloud.  I mentioned how I had started to use it quite a lot.

Well, now I’m not.  On Monday I was preparing some important notes that I had created on the native Notes app only to find that one had disappeared and two were present on the iPad but not on the iPhone.  The missing note has gone.   It’s not on either device or on iCloud.com.

The two notes that were on the iPad but not on the iPhone are safe.  I disabled all connectivity on the iPad and copied the notes to another app.  Interestingly, when I turned WiFi back on the two notes did not appear on the iPhone.  Similarly, they didn’t disappear from the iPad.  Only when I edited the notes on the iPad did they then sync across to the iPhone.  Strange.

Anyway, the result is that I can’t rely on the app and have, therefore, banished it to the darkest corner of a rarely used folder.

So, what am I using instead?  I’m using the excellent PlainText by Hog Bay Software which syncs over Dropbox, perfectly, without error and has a great user interface.  Look out for a forthcoming review!

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on chime.in here.

iOS 5.0: swiping notifications

I don’t know how well published this feature is. I’ve not seen it specifically called out anywhere and yet I find it to be one of the most useful features of the new iOS 5.0 notification system. It may be very widely known but I discovered it by accident so wanted to share.

When confronted with a list of notifications on your lock screen, you can hone in on a specific message and open the corresponding tweet, email (etc) simply by swiping left to right across that specific notification.

Take the screen shot below. If I want to open, say, the third message from the top, I simply swipe left to right on it and the phone unlocks, launches the appropriate app and presents the tweet accordingly.

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What a great feature. Until discovering this I was simply unlocking the phone/pad, launching the appropriate app and then finding the tweet or email or Instagram message.

Hope you find it useful.

I am @iCraigt on Twitter and you can find me on Google+ here.