Updated: WordPress Disables OnSwipe iPad Blog Themes

WordPress posted a note on their forums today. As of this morning, all the blogs that are hosted at wordpress.com will need to go in to their settings pages and enable OnSwipes an option (it used to be enabled as default).

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. I've queried WordPress and will post their response of I get it.

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?

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader: He's here to chew bubble gum and fix broken websites, and he is all out of bubble gum. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills at the drop of a hat. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

5 Comments

  1. Jason L. Baptiste13 March, 2012

    Pretty simple explanation – it’s an over year old version of what’s really “padpressed” and not Onswipe, so no reason to keep that live as a default. We’re working on making a way to get what really is Onswipe aka what you can find at Geek.com working there.

    Reply
  2. Andy Brown13 March, 2012

    I can’t read sites that use the Onswipe theme. It causes Safari on my iPad to crash consistently. I’m glad they made that change.

    Reply
  3. Mike Cane13 March, 2012

    Everyone HATED OnSwipe. The hatred was an inferno. I’m glad WordPress went and burned it. They should have NEVER put in ON by default.

    Reply
  4. Xyzzy14 March, 2012

    I never saw OnSwipe, fortunately — but one thing you said seems out of whack:
    “We are now 2 years into the iPad era (that is where everything began).”

    I can see two different points where “everything began” in terms of apps:
    – Palm introducing the idea of downloadable mobile device software in the late 90s, when there was a similarly large variety that sold for similar price ranges.
    – Apple & Google both introducing the “app” (a term that I still find irritating, to be honest) for their respective phones in 2008. (I was surprised to read, in looking into this, that Apple and Google apps are both drastically out-sold by the ones for BlackBerry devices.)

    The iPad was essentially a very large iPhone; its greater size allowed for some things that wouldn’t have worked as well on an iPhone and gained plenty of hype/publicity, but it was just another step along a long, winding road, not its beginning.

    Reply
  5. Dee19 March, 2012

    I really miss the onswipe view! It made it easier for me to navigate certain blogs – like reading a book. I found this page after a search for what the heck happened! Now I gotta beg my favs to enable it!

    Reply

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