I hesitate to write this after what has been such a difficult roll out for Apple of MobileMe, the Application store, firmware upgrades for the iPhone and iPod Touch and, of course, the introduction of the 3G iPhone. Time will tell if these new dimensions of the Apple empire will be successful, but I thought I would update my ongoing evaluation of the iPod Touch.
Incrementally, things are getting better, but the process remains slow and frustrating. I am very hopeful that with the introduction of the application store and the SDK for the iPhone and iPod Touch, some progress will be made on the Cisco VPN situation. Once this functionality is available, I am convinced that my iPod Touch will be transformed for me into the best PDA devices I have ever had. Thus far, however, there is no solution for the Cisco VPN issue and this leaves me with an unconnected device during my hours on the University Park campus of Penn State where I work. (I have steadfastly resisted – with the help of my wife who always keeps me grounded in such matters – paying the outrageaous costs of an AT&T plan for an iPhone.) If the VPN situation is worked out, I think I have a device just as good at a fraction of the cost.
As for the other issues about which I wrote previously, let me summarize:
- MobileMe, if it starts working, promises to solve my calendar issues. I actually prefer to use the web version of iCalendar in MobileMe when it is operational, but this has been rare this weekend. If Apple intends this to be “Exchange for the rest of us,” they will have to make it more reliable. Apple has addressed one of the issues I had with the calendar application: you can now determine the specific calendar to which you want to assign an event.
- ToDo problems. Still, there is no integration of the ToDo list in Mail/iCal from my MacBook Pro to my iPod Touch. Why? I should be able to view and edit a single ToDo list from my Mail and iCal applications on any of my devices. Change something on the iPod (if it had ToDo functionality) and it should sync with the MBP and vice versa. I am still using dedicated entries in my address book to write ToDo notes to myself – pathetic. Although I think the free Remote app that Apple developed for the new Application store is useful and techonolgically innovative, they should have spent less time developing that and more time perfecting the existing applications on the iPhone and iPod Touch. [Update: Apple seems to have integrated ToDo list functionality through MobileMe IF you set up the me.com mail account on the iPod Touch. A new folder appears called Apple Mail To Do, but it does not seem to sync with the Mail ToDo list yet. I tried adding a To Do item in Mobile Me through my calendar, it did not immediately show up in my Apple Mail To Do folder on the iPod. On the other hand, I have taken to Zenbe’s List app for the iPod Touch/iPhone. This works well, syncs with the web version and is accessible through iGoogle. Not the integrated option I wanted, but it is nice in any case.]
- Here I will just restate, verbatim, what I wrote about descriptions of podcasts: 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. [This was a feature of earlier generations of iPods which has been lost.]
I have tried some of the free new applications from the Application store and they show a lot of potential. The Weatherbug application already is far better than the Weather app that came with the first software upgrade. Now I just wish I could remove that older one. The application store and the SDK promises to bring much innovation to the device, but as it now stands, almost a year after it was introduced, there remain too many frustrating inadequacies.
These are so much the more difficult to live with as we begin to see the real power of the device and platform unfold. All I can say is that I hope independent developers will succeed where Apple has failed with respect to integrating Mail, iCal, etc. into a more coherent and functional system. And I hope that Apple will succeed, where is has so far this weekend failed, in making MobileMe a truly seamless experience in cloud computing where all the information related to my daily life and schedule is available to me anywhere I can get online.