I received my new iPod Touch the other day and have had a few days to play with it. On the whole, I would say that it is very close to being one of the best handheld devices I have ever owned. At this point, however, there are significant drawbacks that are extremely frustrating. Let me mention a few issues:

  • There is no ability to add events to the calendar. This is particularly galling because the iPhone has this functionality and someone at Apple decided to disable it on the iPoT. I can’t think of a rationale for this, and it is extremely frustrating, particularly because of a second point:
  • There is no support of Cisco’s VPN software which is required to get on the wireless network at Penn State, where I teach. So, I have a beautiful new device with a calendar and WiFi capability, but I cannot get access to WiFi on campus where I spend much of my time, and I can’t add calendar events locally on the device without WiFi access.
  • To add to the calendar woes, even if I have WiFi access, Google Calendar as optimized for the iPhone does not yet work with the iPoT. (I can’t help but hope this is just a matter of time.)
  • There is no ability to access descriptions of podcasts on the iPoT (or the iPhone). I find this ridiculous. It is as if they designed the device without having a human use it in real life.

OK, having unloaded some of that frustration, I should mention that I have never owned a handheld device with the beauty and functionality of the iPoT’s interface. The pinching, the flicking, etc. makes browsing the internet (when I have access) a real joy. I have even taken to reading Slate and the NYTimes on it as my preferred mode of interacting with these sites at home.

This interface and the device itself has enormous potential for teaching and learning. It would give students an easy way to edit, add and comment on blog posts from anywhere on campus (if the VPN issue is addressed). It allows for the viewing of enhanced podcasts, which look beautiful on the relatively large screen. My blog sites (The Long Road, CpL ePortfolio, my First-Year Seminar and my 20th Century Philosophy course) look wonderful on the machine and I anticipate that with MovableType 4.0, if you are to believe the boys at ETS Talk, my blogs and those of my students will be yet more accessible on the iPhone and iPot.

In all, I very much want to love this machine, but I can’t until some of the basic flaws are addressed. My hope is that they all can be handled via firmware or even software upgrades in the very near future.

Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • I am surprised to hear that google calendar doesn’t work on the touch the same it works on the iPhone.
    The ubiquitous network access is not quite there yet, but I see these devices as taking web apps to the next level. I prefer to access calendar, to-do, and my documents over the network – no clumsy syncing, always the most up-to-date copy, seemless collaboration in the palm of my hand.
    I think these devices give us a preview of what the future has to offer. You are right, though, Lack of network access on campus limits the iPod Touch.
    I am hoping a firmware update will allow us to access the podcast description field.

  • What is your sense of PSU or Apple addressing the VPN issue? Do you think I will be able to access the network here at PSU with this device eventually? I agree that it is much better to have everything online, but I can’t make that move until I have ubiquitous access.

  • Andrew Nelson says:

    I understand that some universities are actually changing their on-campus wi-fi to work with the iphone and ipod touch.
    I have the same issue down here at JMU. My iPt reads the network but just cant connect. There are a few hints though of this working in the future….
    First of all apple’s australian help site for the iPt (http://www.apple.com/au/support/ipodtouch/) you will see a link to “how to set up VPN.” Well once you go in you notice that is asks you to go (on your iPt) to SETTINGS > GENERAL > NETWORK…
    well try it for yourself and you will find that the network button doesn’t actually exist…. wtf apple??
    Also once an iPt is jailbroken, that network button under settings DOES appear, but doesn’t work. Maybe a feature apple intended on adding but never got around to?
    Here’s what we can do, go here
    http://www.apple.com/feedback/ipodtouch.html
    and fill out a form requesting that the ipod touch become vpn capatible or 801.1.
    So as of right now there is no way to have the iPt work with a vpn client. However, there ARE hints of this feature being added in the future. Hope this answers some questions and trust me, I too would love for this to work because I cant access my wi-fi on campus either :*(

  • Andrew:
    Thanks for reading the blog and for the suggestions. I have entered my feedback with Apple. I hope it helps.

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