A month into the Apple iPod Touch experience

Everyone knows i'm not the biggest fan of Apple products and services. So it was a shock when I went out and bought a Apple iPod Touch. I struggled from day one to do anything with it except turn it on due to the crazy notion that you must pair it with iTunes before it will actually work at all. There's a ton of tweets I sent out of frustration of this process. But how have I been doing since?

Well I tend to carry it with me everywhere because it slips into my pocket really well. I did have a shock when I saw the Sony eBook Reader on sale for 189 pounds the other day because I was thinking hummmm maybe i'd be better off with that. But then its not as portable and although it has a RSS reader, I doubt it can cope with my requirements.

The iPod Touch's shining and worst feature is the Apple App store. Its good being able to download apps quickly over a Wifi connection but its also painful to search (25 items at a time) and there's not enough information for somethings. For example I was looking for a decent RSS reader and the only way to really tell the difference was to try them out. So I tried out the Free ones and then spent 1.19 pounds (the only money I've spent on the App store to date) on a pay one which I used for 2 days.

Its also worth noting that many app authors create a Free version for you to download to get around the lack of a demo option on the app store. On Windows mobile you get apps like PC apps, demos which are time locked or cut down till you enter a serial number.

Then I switched over to Netnewswire because of its ability to sync with Newsgator on the web and on my Windows mobile phones. So I never end up reading the same news twice. But now how do I get my 1.19 pounds back for the app which I hardly use?  I'm also upset about the choice of ebook readers, maybe I need to pay out a load of money to test the paid for versions. But so far each ebook reader has its own storage container, so any new apps can't see the already uploaded ebooks!!! Yes maybe someone might create a decent ebook reader, but how would I ever know?

Multitasking on the iPod touch is painful!!! I hate this device for this thing. Here's a example of why, so I see a good news item and I want to email it to someone. I click the send via email button and it launches the mail app which I have setup. I send the email to the person (its usually stored in the outbox because I'm not online) then I have to click the one button to go back to the app menu then click the netnewswire icon again to re-start netnewswire. I have to do this everytime I want to send a message from Netnewswire and I got to say it becomes a bit tiresome after a while. Some real multitasking wouldn't go a miss, specially when I decide to have a ebook open and want to update my rss. Or even during the night, when I got the alarm set and want to use the ipod as a bedside night clock but also pull down rss during the night time.

I still can't put music on the device even if I wanted to because I'm not using iTunes and nothing I've found on Linux supports the iPod Touch v2 firmware even Hipo, Rhythmbox, Amarok, etc. When I connect it via USB it comes up on desktop as a camera device which Fspot wants to manage although it doesn't actually have a camera.

The keyboard input is still painful to use for me and I generally dread putting in my password to get updates from the app store. I also got to say the way it asks you if it can use your location is good but it would be nice to have a don't ask me again option. For all the fuss about the multi-touch I have used it a couple of times in my current ebook reader to zoom in a bit. Some apps like the first RSS reader I had don't even allow you to do it so its a real inconsistent experience. Something I'm sure Apple would love to stomp out.

The Wifi can be spotty too, sometimes my Windows mobile devices can see wifi that the iPod doesn't, but whats worst is if you get a wifi point which requires web page authentication like BT Openzone, The Cloud, Tmobile, etc. Safari will not attempt to navigate to that holding page. Instead it sits there like a lemon moaning theres no internet connectivity.

So overall, the iPod Touch makes a reasonable RSS reader device. Its true I'm reading tons more RSS that ever before but the move to Newsgator also had its part to play in that (although now i'm looking for a Linux Newsgator compatable reader). The screen makes a good ebook reader but the software is far off the mark. The best I can find can open pdfs and text files. I then have to use another app for chm ebooks and another one for .mobi ebooks. The first one doesn't even support reformatting of PDFs, so you can't really zoom in for that super fast reading. Once this is solved, I'll be happy and the ipod touch will have done everything I've bought it for. Although I got to say if ebook reader hardware got better and more open, I'll trade in the ipod touch no problem.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.