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iPod Touch Ups

Last October I wrote with some frustration about the limitations of my iPod Touch, three months later, it is perhaps fair to revisit the list of issues I had with the device to see what has been addressed and what remains to be done.  

  1. The ability to add events to the calendar was added by a firmware upgrade late last year and it has made a very big difference in the way I use the Touch.  The addition of this functionality, which should never have been missing in the first place, has moved the device forcefully into the realm of a fully functional PDA.  More on this in a moment.
  2. There still remains no support for the Cisco VPN we have in place here at the University Park campus of Penn State.  So, I am unable to connect to the internet with the device during extended periods of the day when I am on campus.  I understand that a fix for this may be coming with the release of a Software Development Kit for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but the delay on this has been frustrating.
  3. The Google calendar interface for the iPhone was made to work with the iPod Touch late in the year last year and the interface is very nice.  However, without continuous internet access on campus, I have opted to use only the Calendar app on that sits locally on the device.
  4. There remains no ability to access descriptions of podcasts on the iPod Touch.  This is an issue of continued frustration for me as I sort through podcasts that have collected over a few days and would like a simple way to view their content without listening to the introductions of each one.  

Having touched again upon the above points, it is clear that much remains to be done to realize more of the potential of this machine.  With the release of the January update which includes five applications that Apple should have offered free to iPod Touch users, but for which it instead decided to charged us $20, some progress was made.  Even so, significant problems remain:

  1. The Mail app is very nice in many respects, but it does not include a way to easily delete all of the emails in a given mailbox.  Specifically, there should be an easy what to empty the trash can in Mail on the iPod Touch.  
  2. A more significant failure is that the Mail app does not include the ToDo list functionality Apple just built into the Mail app in Leopard.  There is no reason that Mail on the Touch/iPhone should not sync seamlessly with Leopard’s Mail app, and specifically with its Notes and ToDo features.  This would make the Touch into one of the best PDA’s out there and Apple could do this so simply in a few elegant strokes.  I can’t help but wonder if the impetus behind moving Notes and ToDo’s to the Mail app in Leopard is an intention to move in this direction.  If so, why is it taking so long?
  3. The Google Maps app is very cool and will be useful on trips even without an internet connection if my initial tests are correct which indicate that basic driving directions remain cached in the machine even when it is not online.
  4. The Weather app is weak.  The web apps for weather are much better than the app that now resides locally on the Touch.  It gives basic information about current weather, temps and the upcoming week, but there is no way to get more detailed information like radar maps or wind chill factors or even sever weather information.  This information could be accessed when the device is connected to the internet and cached when not.
  5. The Stock app is fine, although it is hard to look at these days.  I don’t know why it does not sync with the widget built into Leopard which is identical.

In all, there are a lot of little things that need to be done to make this a truly excellent device.  I remain, even after three months, very impressed with the user interface and continue to enjoy interacting with the machine.  The iPod Touch now needs a few touch-ups, most having to do with integration with existing Leopard apps and functionality.  Once these are accomplished, the pleasure of using the device will finally eclipse the frustration of being confronted daily with such unrealized potential. 


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