When the official tumblr app got its 3.0 update recently, it was heralded as a long overdue reboot of the site’s mobile experience. But after spending more time with it over the last couple of days, I can’t help but notice that much of what’s changed focuses more on style than substance. There’s no doubt that the app feels much better—its quick-launch gestures for different types of posts, for example, are a nice touch—but more serious users are likely to find that the official app still lacks some basic but useful features.
Enter Tumblita. A tumblr client created by developer Kyle Zaragoza, it offers up a mobile tumblr experience with style and substance—and maybe more of both than the official app can yet claim. If you’re a heavy user of the site’s mobile service—and especially if you use it more as a content creator than consumer—then you absolutely owe it to yourself to give Tumblita a look.
Open the app for the first time (after tapping on an elegant grayscale icon depicting a dancer), and right from the start you’ll notice a big difference: Tumblita supports multiple accounts, letting you keep all your blogs in one app. Move on to the Dashboard, and you’ll notice another difference: Tumblita’s design borrows a page from Loren Brichter’s Tweetie (which became the official Twitter app on iOS), giving users a snippet of each post in the dash; tap one, and a new window slides into place with the full view of the post and a series of action icons that allow one to reblog or like a post, or to visit the blog’s home page. A fourth icon lets users send a post to Instapaper or share a link on Facebook—it’s nice to see both those supported here, and it makes one wonder why tumblr hasn’t built more sharing features into its own app.
If you don’t want to dig that deep, Zaragoza has also built in a quick-response feature (again similar to Tweetie) that allows those same actions directly in the Dashboard: just swipe across a blog snippet to reveal a hidden tray underneath. The same gesture works on your own posts, but the actions change to offer quick access to editing tools. (See image above.) Another nice feature of using Dashboard snippets: your screen real-estate is maximized, instead of being overtaken by one or two large posts that you may not be all that interested in seeing.
One feature that does not appear in Tumblita that was included in the recent tumblr update: the ability to search for specific tags used in tumblr posts. If you browse tumblr by tags rather than who you follow (and who doesn’t at some point?) then you’ll feel the absence of that feature now and again.
Move on to posting your own content, and Tumblita begins to pull away from the pack. Two features in particular make me doubt I’ll return to the official app any time soon: support for multiple photos in a single post, and the ability to customize the tweet used if the Send To Twitter option is enabled.
The first is another feature that is strangely absent from the official app—if you have three photos to share, you’ll need to create a post for each one. Tumblita lets you put them together—obviously handy if you have a bunch of photos on a common subject.
While photo grouping is a feature many might use, it’s the ability to customize a tweet that first drew my attention to Tumblita. It’s really the sort of thing that only a few will care very much about, but the fact that it’s there—once again, it’s something not available in the official app—points to Zaragoza’s attention to detail. And for someone who likes to blog on the go, it makes a world of difference. Without it, a post to tumblr is announced on Twitter by its first line; if it’s a Photo post, the tweet is simply the word “Photo” followed by a tumblr URL. Providing a means for content creators to give their posts some context is absolutely invaluable. It’s a feature that, until now, has meant that I’ve often waited to post something until I had access to my laptop. No more.
Finally—and this is huge—Tumblita is a universal app, meaning it was designed to be used with both iPhone and iPad. (The official app is merely “compatible” with iPad, which is vastly different: it is essentially just a scaled-up version of the iPhone app, while Tumblita has a specific interface designed specifically for iPad.)
In the end, Zaragoza has done an amazing job with Tumblita. Right now, tumblr is still playing catch up. Find it in the App Store to experience it yourself.