…but I found a few worms

Posted: June 12, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: ,

As much as I have enjoyed my iPod Touch (just ask my family), I’ve also found a few things to be really irritating. The most frustrating thing is that they don’t really seem to be limitations on the hardware, because there are indications of workarounds, but rather on Apple’s obsession with locking things down and having them done only their way (image from here).


The first, and greatest, of these frustrations relates to connectivity. The Touch can connect to computers via wifi or USB cable – Bluetooth exists but is locked out for now (come on OS 3.0!) – but the actual connection is not as simple or useful as you’d think. The “default” connection to iTunes is nowhere nearly as useful as Windows Mobile and Activesync, and that’s saying a lot because Activesync is pretty limited itself. The iTunes connection is fine for transferring songs or movies or applications, or even doing a backup, but that’s about it. Want to copy the notes you’ve made? Nope. Want to transfer files? Nope. Want to use it to synchronise with other apps? Nope. All of these things are standard for WM and make the process of trying to convert your use from one device to another very frustrating.

It’s possible within most apps to connect via wifi and use files on your PC that way, but it involves jumping through far too many hoops. You have to set up a peer to peer wireless network (how many people even know what this is?) and get the computer and Touch to see each other and then transfer files that way, but wireless issues and firewall issues often come into play. Even then, other apps can’t see the files you’ve transferred – the dreaded sandbox approach, which may enhance stability but is severely limiting. What makes me want to pull my hair out is that it’s technically possible to do all this over USB (found one app that does it), it’s just a case of Apple not allowing it. For a company hell bent on making the device as easy to use as possible, this is a glaring exception to the experience. Perhaps it’s easier on a Mac but, hey, I do represent the other 90% of the computing world

The second frustration has to do with the applications themselves. Again, they’re easy to use and work well most of the time, but are actually often limited in their capabilities compare to WM counterparts – the diary, for example, has no week view. While I know built in WM apps have limitations, third party apps overcome this but the policy is obviously different at Apple: one of my favourite diary programs, Pocket Informant, is woefully limited on the Touch compared to WM because Apple won’t let it have access to the built in diary to synchronise information. The music player on the Touch (and, from what I can see, third party apps) can’t compare to something like Pocket Player for WM, which will let me make playlists that play without gaps in the music. Finance apps are pretty, but don’t compare in functionality to SPB Finance. The list goes on and on – can’t save attachments, can’t download files…

And lastly, if I’m really going to use it as a PDA replacement, why can’t I change the home screen to display something other than shortcuts? Having all the information I need in one easy to see screen when I turn the device on is hugely practical and convenient. But, no, the story is the same as elsewhere: you get what you get and you don’t fiddle with it.

That said, I have high hopes for version 3.0 of the software, due out on the 17th. A good friend’s clever comment (thanks, Don!) was that it should be like getting a brain transplant for my beautiful model; even if it doesn’t go quite that far I am hoping for a move from standard to higher grade and an ease in many of the frustrations. We’ll see soon enough and it will at least give me more distractions from limitations. Otherwise the hunt for the perfect all in one will continue…

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