Do you have an iPad? If so, you’ve probably tried one of my favorite apps — Flipboard. Flipboard gives your iPad a magazine-like interface to Twitter, Facebook, Google Reader and other news streams.
Whether you have an iPad or not, now you can give your WordPress-powered website the same cool Flipboard experience on the iPad. It’s super easy and with the new Onswipe plug-in, it’s free. Here’s how it’s done.
If your site is hosted on WordPress.com, the plugin is automatically available for you. If your WordPress site is self-hosted (i.e. WordPress.org) then you’ll first need to install the free Onswipe plugin.
Installing and Configuring Onswipe
- From the admin console, go to Plugins > Add New and search for Onswipe.
- Install and activate the plugin.
- Set the permissions of the thumbs cache folder (WP-Contents/uploads/thumbs-cache) to 777. This allows Onswipe to cache generated thumbnails to make the iPad version of the site load faster for subsequent requests.
Once you’ve installed Onswipe, you can find the configuration options in the Appearance panel.
The Cover logo does double-duty as the home screen icon and should be 200×200 pixels transparent PNG.
The launch screen image only shows up if someone adds a link to your site on their iPad home screen, then launches the site from their home screen. But it’s a nice touch. Make it exactly 768×1004 pixels.
You can also tweak the display font and skin color. Note that while these fonts are available on the iPad, they may or not be available on your computer. If the fonts are installed on your computer, you’ll see the sample text reflect the correct font selection.
Onswipe will automatically detect iPad browsers and display the new swipe-able interface. You can toggle this on and off as needed.
Before and After Onswipe
Here’s what Jeff Hester.net looks like on an iPad before:
And after installing Onswipe:
A sample post viewed via Onswipe:
Onswipe Features and Gotchas
Onswipe is super easy to install and configure. Their website claims it provides “insanely easy tablet publishing” and I found that to be true. Once it’s setup, it just works. You can swipe to browse through the index, and Onswipe will detect the orientation of your iPad and automatically reformat things (portrait or landscape).
But there are a few caveats that might keep you from using Onswipe.
- If you absolutely need access to widgets on the iPad, forget Onswipe. It provides a simplifed interface (much like an iPad app). Onswipe doesn’t support sidebars and widget areas.
- Onswipe doesn’t support Facebook comments or other comment systems that don’t store comments in the WordPress database.
- There is currently no way for the user to specify the “full” version of the website, if they so desire. It’s either on or off for everyone.
- If you are signed into your WordPress admin console on your iPad (i.e. you checked “remember me”) the Onswipe interface won’t show until you sign out.
- There is no way to browse tags; only categories are currently supported.
The Onswipe website considers this 1.0 release a “preview” and asks you to sign-up for email notification when they “officially” launch, but you don’t need to do that to download or use this plugin.
The Bottom Line
Is Onswipe worth trying? If you care about providing iPad users with a great experience, and your site primarily leverages posts vs. pages, you should definitely consider Onswipe. If you’re site is primarily page-driven (as many CMS-centric sites are) Onswipe is not for you.
At WordPress.com, they are already seeing about 750,000 daily page views from iPads, and that figure is growing. For that reason alone, Onswipe is worth a look.