Wednesday, January 16, 2008

iPod Touch Software / Applications Update : First Look

So I ran out to grab the $20 upgrade for the iTouch applications as quickly as I could.  I figure, what the heck, either it's worth it, or else they change their mind and credit me back.  And worse case it's not worth it, and I jailbreak the thing.  $20 isn't going to kill me.

The install process was a bit of a nightmare.  First, I notice that iTunes tells me 1.1.3 is available for my device.  Cool, I think, and download it.  I don't see much change on the iTouch, other than what appears to be some different handling of video playlists.  And was the background of the icon bar always shaded like that?  Interesting.

Anyway, I go on to hunt down the upgrade at, but it says I need iTunes 7.6 to do that.  Ok, I upgrade iTunes.  This turns into a big pain for me because I'm at work and actually have to shut down my computer in the middle to continue later (more on this in a bit).

Once I get home I go back to get the upgrade, it makes me walk through two license agreements only to say "Ok, now purchase it again."  What?  I hit the purchase button again, check off one license agreement, and then it says "Ok, sync and you'll have it."  It's at this point that my device stops being recognized.  iTunes starts telling me, "An iPhone was connected but it can't be recognized, disconnect and try again."  An iPhone?  That's not good.  I begin to wonder if I should not have done the 1.1.3 upgrade first.

Long story short, I reboot the device and the machine a few times, and end up going back into iTunes setup to do a Repair, and finally get it recognized.  Not sure if that's the end of that dilemma, but that's my problem.  On to the apps.

I told a friend yesterday after playing with the new apps for just 5 minutes, "The problem with Apple is that they set the standard so high, that even the most trivial things but the heck out of you." Example?  The new mail app.  It's nice.  Has gmail integration built right in.  But you know what?  It doesn't understand landscape mode, so you can't get a wide screen.  But if I go through Safari to get to regular GMail (with the new interface as of the other day), I can.  I happen to like reading ebooks this way, by mailing them to myself.  And they look much nicer with the wide screen so I can get the bigger font.  So there's a strike against the mail app.  But, it does offline reading (mostly), which is something I can't do with Safari.  When Mail says that it has downloaded 25 of my messages from GMail, it really has, and I can read them when I'm not connected.  Unless there are images, in which case it tries to go back online to get them.  But I can live with that.

Weather is fine.  Given that it is so blatantly an exact copy of the OS X widget, it makes me a little sad that I had to pay for it.  It's even got a little Yahoo! brand in the corner.  But hey, it works, what more can you ask?

When I heard Notes was back, I thought "Woohoo, offline storage!"  I desperately want to save ebooks to read offline.  Thus far (keep in mind I have played with it for less than a day) I still can't do that.  I can write a note (in a weird font, on yellow lined paper, which I presume is how the iPhone does it), and I can email that note, but that's about it.

Maps is fun to play with.  Lots of clicking and zooming, because the screen is just so darned small.  But it does work.  I haven't had a chance to try it out for real yet (i.e. by needing actual directions somewhere), but from clicking around on it, it looked very simliar to the standard Google maps experience.

I haven't tried the stocks app yet, but I'll assume it is very similar to weather.  That is, an exact port of the existing widget.

Customizing the home screen is cute, but that's about it.  You can pull the standard icons up from the bottom bar and put them right into the screen now - which brings me to another of those trivial little things that bug me, because the new shaded area behind the toolbar?  Stays there.  So I have this empty gray line across my screen.  I put some of the icons back just so it would look better. 

Possibly the best feature of the whole upgrade is the web clips thing.  I said earlier that I like GMail in Safari over the regular mail app?  Super, I can make a webclip so that I can go right to it with one click, instead of having to do Safari first, and then bookmarks, and then GMail.  That's cool.  Do that with your most commonly accessed bookmarks and you'll soon have need to customize your homepage :).

In short, I'm a bit disappointed.  No offline storage that I can see.  No streaming flash.  A new mail app that's basically not going to be useful for how I want to use it.  Don't really care about stocks.  I want to see now how the SDK goes, and what sorts of apps become available.  I'm getting more and more willing to try the Jailbreak thing every day.


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1 comment:

matt said...

jailbreaking is worth it for real ebooks alone (google - very nice HTML or txt ebooks reader)