Wednesday, July 16, 2008

I Touch my iPod Touch

First of all, I should just say flat out that the iPod Touch (an by extension the iPhone) is an amazing device. The physical interface works exceedingly well, partially as (for the most part) the software is so well designed.

I was a little miffed I had to spend an extra 10 last week to upgrade to the latest software (as it -- amongst other things -- allows me to download more applications that Apple gets a further cut of, it seems a little crappy), but the extra ability to download applications, and control various other things (iTunes libraries on my computer and AppleTV) is pretty great. That and the Star Map application I downloaded which is something what I have always wanted to have in my hand(and I can't wait for a dark starry night).

Mostly, I listen to podcasts, a little bit of music, and I also check my email around my house, and surf here and there. As an ipod without the phone, having to depend on WIFI can be a little bit of a downer at times (I will be getting an iPhone when I can though). But it makes me think I no longer need a laptop and could get a desktop (and not worry so much about the limitations of my hard drive).

Not that it is a perfect device:

The biggest flaw I think is the need to open iTunes when you are synching the device. This would make sense if all you were doing was music related, but as you can do other things like photos, contacts, calendar, applications and more, having to go into iTunes seems distinctly clunky, because there doesn't really seem to be any good reason for it (unless I am missing something -- aside from synching it and being able to look at what is in there, and authorizing it there is no functional reason -- I can't drag things into it).

Having a standalone synch application would do two things:
1) you don't have to wait for a sometimes very slow program to load up (this is particularly true on my wife's laptop)
2) it I think would make it easier to do away with the ludicrous restrictions of only synching up with one itunes library.

Let me dive into #2 a little more. The warning you get says that you can't synch with more than one iTunes library. Since iTunes is starting up when one is synching, one naturally wonders, "does that mean my contacts, calendar, and photos as well."

It's not clear. I can and do synch calendars, contacts, photos and podcasts from one computer and music from another. This seems like something that Apple should accept and find a way to deal with because it is likely that people either have more than one computer themselves, or share their music (there is after all still a limit on devices), or calendar, etc. But all their messaging goes to dissuade you from trying this. I can understand -- if reluctantly -- that an iPod should have music from one iTunes library, but not anything else.

Detaching the synching from the iTunes application would make the source of information that much clearer (I don't see why one could not authorize a device for particular libraries and information, much like you do the remote devices). Why should I not be able to load up my calendar and my wife's?

The odd thing is that when I load in music from one iTunes library it wipes out the podcasts, but then if I synch it up again with the other library, my podcasts come in fine and the music is left alone. Seems like a bug.

That is really the biggest problem with the device I have, the only other annoying things are where some applications -- in particular Mail -- don't change to landscape view when the device is turned. It's all HTML -- so can it be that different from Safari? Given that email still has so much poorly formatted HTML email, being able to change to landscape would be ideal.

I was a little disappointed that Remote only controlled the Apple TV music and not anything else -- I still have to use the crappy little remote to do everything else (type in movie names etc). it is still really cool that I can do that, but my expectations where such that I thought I'd be able to set aside that old remote. Perhaps that is something they are working on?