Archive for October, 2007

iPod Touch – first impressions

October 18, 2007

Got my iPod Touch a week ago. Ordering it was an impulse decision when I realized it had been released in the US. Rarely have I anticipated a gadget so much… And it pretty much lives up to expectations, at least when it comes to the first impression. I won’t put any pics here, there are plenty of those already on the net.

First, when it comes to box design the guys at Apple have really outdone themselves. The Touch comes in a small, sturdy, compact little matte black box. Very nice. Unpacking and setup is a breeze, I made a point of eying through the manual, just to realize it didn’t really contain any actual usage instructions, only some installation instructions. The user interface is pretty intuitive, but to learn the more advanced commands (like double tapping on the screen to bring the device out of locked state and show the play controls) you have to go Apple’s web site and read the tutorials. A bit silly, but works ok.

16 GByte sounds like a lot compared to the 4 GB in my old Nano, but as soon as you start adding video podcasts or movies those 16 GB disappear quickly. Given that the Touch is so much bigger than the Nano and that miniaturization has advanced since the Nano was designed, wouldn’t 32 GB in the Touch be possible? Maybe it’s coming.

As for other hardware aspects of the Touch, the screen is simply outstanding. Very, very nice. Great colors, contrast and a real hard glass surface makes it a lot less scratch sensitive than the Nano, which almost scratched simply by looking at it. The mirrored back side (same as on earlier iPods) is however just as sensitive as before, and even though I’ve kept my Touch in a cloth bag at all times, it is already scratched. Bummer. Buying a hard/soft case to the Touch at the same time as buying the Touch is highly recommended! Unfortunately, it seems as the case manufacturers haven’t kept up with Apple – you can’t find any Touch cases at all for sale in Sweden. Ok, the Touch hasn’t started selling here yet, but given that there are plently of iPhone cases for sale here (and the iPhone for sure isn’t even close to have launched here yet – any iPhone used in Sweden has to be hacked). As for

Finally, the good, the bad and the ugly:

The good

  • User interface is slick, responsive and simply gorgeous.
  • Cover Flow is awesome!
  • Watching video on the iPod is great, but also requires a totally different kind of attention than for example listening to an audio podcast. It is for example hard to walk to the subway and watch video at the same time – but listening to a podcast at the same time works great.

The bad

  • 16 GB memory is twice as much as 8 GB (which is was the smaller Touch has), but still only half of 32 GB…
  • Stability. On several occasions the Touch has almost hung when watching a video podcast and switching to some other application. There is a Linux system somewhere beneath that shiny surface and it promise a lot of stability and good multitasking, but there obviously are some bugs that need to be fixed.
  • I would really have liked the Touch to be GPS enabled.

The ugly

  • Apple has done it again – crippling the feature set of their products. There is absolutely no reason what so ever why the Touch couldn’t have more of the same application set as the iPhone. The Touch has great WiFi connectivity and a nice web browser – but no email client!
  • Not possible to install third party applications. This is by far my most serious concern about the iPod Touch! Given the form factor and great implementation of a touch interface, the iPod Touch has a fantastic potential beyond just being a portable media player. I would personally love to use it for reading emails, having a client to connect automatically to FON access points, having a ssh client to allow for remote management of Linux boxes, … And imagine a restaurant equipping the staff with iPod Touches, taking the orders in the devices, sending them via WiFi to the kitchen…

The explanation to most of the above concerns is probably that Apple didn’t want the iPhone and iPod Touch to be too close to each other, from a feature point of view. Still, after Apple’s reduction of the iPhone’s price, the price tags aren’t that different. I’d really expect more features in the Touch, given it’s price point. Still, it’s a nice device that replaces my Touch in all occasions except when out running, working out, biking, skiing etc. For those activities the Touch is too big and sensitive, whereas the Nano is perfect.

Update 2007-Oct-18:
Apple has announced they will make an SDK available, to allow for third party native applications to be developed. Most likely some kind of certification similar to Symbian Signed will be needed, to protect against malicious software.