We have disabled the Onswipe Theme for iPad on all blogs. Starting today, you will have to explicitly enable and configure it on your blog by following the instructions on the support page.No explanation was given.
This is a rather odd move for WordPress. Onswipe launched their app style blog theme in early 2011, with WordPress as one of the early partners. That was the one of the few place that you were guaranteed to find it on launch day, and WordPress was also one of the few launch partners not to disable the theme in the months following.
And now, just over a year later, it's been disabled.
I'm particularly interested in this because I've doubted the value of this idea for some time now. I've been sitting on a blog post titled "Do We Really Need App-Style Blog Themes?", and it looks like I may have been right.
We are now 2 years into the iPad era (that is where everything began). The iPad inspired all sorts of apps and services, including new textbooks , magazines, and a bunch of news readers. The iPad enabled/inspired National Geographic, Wired, and others to experiment with new content. It enabled Inkling, Kno (and Apple itself) to come up with new ways to display textbooks. There's even bunch of competing news aggregators, including Pulse, Currents, Zite, Flipboard, Taptu, and probably several that I forgot to name.
But we're 2 years into the iPad era, and I know of only 2 startups that are helping blogs create a second app style theme for the iPad. To me that says that there's not much interest in the idea. And today's WordPress news suggests that someone agrees with me.
Update: Here's what I got from WordPress:
Nothing bad has happened to the Onswipe Theme. We’re exploring the best way for tablet and iPad users to experience blogs, and for now serving the desktop version seems to be the best.
Note that I never said that this was a bad idea; I merely questioned the value it added. I've browsed the web from tablets, laptops, ereaders, and more devices than I can recall. That includes the iPad, and I've never had an issue with browsing regular websites from the iPad. They worked fine for me and that's what led me to wonder why we needed a special theme just for the iPad.
And right now WordPress thinks that serving iPad owners the regular blog theme is a better idea than the Onswipe theme.
What do you think?