Jetpack has come a long way since it was first introduced. Originally, it included a handful of tools that added much needed functionality. Today, it’s an enormous collection of features among which almost everyone will find something useful.
Jetpack’s “everything including the kitchen sink” approach isn’t without its critics, who dislike installing lots of code they don’t need to get the small number of features they do. But, for the average non-technical WordPress user, Jetpack can make life considerably easier, bringing together functionality that would otherwise require several plugins. And, because Jetpack is developed by Automattic, WordPress users can be reasonably sure it’s quality work.
Jetpack 4.5 adds several interesting features and enhancements.
Jetpack Ads is an advertising network that takes much of the difficulty out of advertising on your WordPress site. Jetpack Ads is essentially a wrapper around WordAds, which is the advertising network used on WordPress.com. At its most basic, using Jetpack Ads is as simple as turning it on. That’s not great for publishers who want a lot of control over the advertising that appears on their site, but if you just want a quick and easy way to generate some revenue from your blog, Jetpack Ads are a good solution.
Until recently, WordAds was only available to high-traffic sites, but has now been opened up to any site that’s part of Jetpack Premium.
WordPress is a great platform for video sharing, but it’s not usually wise to host videos on the same server as your site — especially if you’re using shared hosting with limited bandwidth. A popular video will quickly consume the site’s resources.
VideoPress is a video hosting service that integrates well with the WordPress Media Library. Users can manage their videos and metadata from within WordPress, while the video files themselves are hosted on a purpose-built platform.
Shortcodes make it easy to embed content from third-party platforms into WordPress posts and pages. WordPress already includes numerous shortcodes, and Jetpack 4.5 adds several more, including Kickstarter, MailChimp forms, and a shortcodes for embedding videos and books from archive.org.
The shortcode I’m most interested in is for Google Docs. Google’s web-based office suite is enormously popular, and it’s a huge convenience to be able to quickly embed spreadsheets, documents, presentations, and especially forms, on WordPress posts and pages.
Jetpack Or Not?
It’s worth noting that although Jetpack is convenient and offers a level of polish you’d expect from a company like Automattic, most of its functionality — excluding the premium integrations with Automattic’s own platforms — can be replicated with other plugins. For sites that don’t require capabilities only available in Jetpack, I usually recommend site owners choose the plugins they need from the WordPress Repository, but you if want what Jetpack has to offer, it’s well worth taking a closer look.