Review of the Apple iPod Touch: First Date
If you are a traditional user of mp3 players you should know that Apple has fundamentally changed the game with the Apple iPod Touch.
The game-changer in the iPod Touch is the presence of WiFi/Internet connectivity that is seamlessly integrated into the device. This positions the Apple iPod Touch someplace between a traditional mp3 player and the iPhone. Steve Jobs has called the iPod Touch “training wheels for the iPhone”. Yes!
Location sensing without GPS
If the WiFi/Internet connectivity was not enough, when connected, the Apple iPod Touch has some clever technology the provides it the capability to determine it’s location – without GPS.
Location sensing based on your IP address can be scary accurate in some cases. Your mileage may vary – but for me, the Apple iPod Touch, on the basis of IP address alone, was able to determine my location within 3 houses.
Location-based determination based on IP address alone is a demonstration of types of information that your Internet service provider can aggregate to find your geographic location. Folks that believe that they are Internet surfing in anonymity with dynamically assigned IP addresses should take note.
It is also a testament to the innovation of Apple that they have leveraged this capability to make some very smart location-based applications A couple of these applications are the supplied mapping program and the Google Earth Application. You can download the Google Earth application for the iPod Touch for free from the App Store.
Touch Screen User Interface
Another aspect of the Apple iPod Touch that you will quickly notice is the user interface. Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs has always been passionate about user interfaces ever since the Apple Lisa. The Apple Lisa was the predecessor of the Apple Macintosh.
While PC users were typing at the C:\ prompt and using character-cell graphics, Lisa and Mac users were mousing around on bit mapped graphics with elegant typefaces. Back then an Apple tagline was “A computer for the rest of us”. The signal being that computers – at least the Apple computers – have moved out of the exclusive realm of “techies” and into the domain of the masses. It made all the difference in the world.
The Apple iPod Touch has a touch screen capable of simultaneously detecting multiple movements. Using this capability the iPod Touch can sense two-finger gestures. For example, the gesture of using thumb and forefinger in a spreading or opening motion is used to enlarge a page. The gesture of thumb and forefinger in a squeezing motion is used to shrink a page. Since the physical size of the Apple iPod Touch device is small, these are convenient gestures to re-size pages for comfortable reading.
Other gestures the iPod Touch understands is a sweeping motion to scroll and page. A quick swipe across a music selection or podcast is a gesture to delete. Once one knows some basic gestures the Apple iPod Touch user interface becomes intuitive. Typing on the Apple iPod Touch uses a virtual keyset that appears on the screen when you tap on a data entry box.
Apple iPod Touch – three degrees of freedom in 3-D space
Another innovation in the Apple iPod Touch is the capability of the iPod Touch to sense its orientation in 3-dimensional space – the iPod Touch can sense when you tilt it. This capability, utilized by the Google Earth application, gives some amazing capability. See the section on Google Earth below to see how this capability is utilized in the application.
A synergy of techologies – … greater than the sum of the parts…
One thing that makes traditional mp3 players old is that mp3 players have traditionally been designed as appliances. That is, traditional mp3 players are focused on doing a few things well and have no capability beyond what they are specifically designed to do.
What sets the Apple iPod Touch apart from traditional mp3 players is that it can run applications which can be downloaded to the device. This provides a potential for ever-evolving capability of the device which appliance devices such as traditional mp3 players can not match.
At a certain point a synergy of technologies comes together where the result is greater then the sum of parts. Internet connectivity combined with the ability to download and run new applications makes all paths lead to the concept of the Application Store.
The Apple Application Store
Traditional mp3 players as appliances soon get old and obsolete. Apple has simultaneously mitigated iPod Touch feature/benefit obsolescence and created a channel for a high potential revenue stream though the Application Store.
With 1-tap on the iPod Touch you can simultaneously get a new application installed on your iPod Touch and have money going to Apple via a charge on your credit card. It’s just that simple – and elegant – for Apple.
Apple has arranged things such that all applications are distributed via the App store. Apple has a revenue sharing model with developers. But, the bottom line is that all application for iPod Touch are distributed, installed, and updated via the App store.
This is a single distribution point model and gives Apple incredible control. Which, I think, is a good thing since this allows apple to control quality – among other things.
When you get the iPod Touch one of the first things you need to do is connect it to a computer running iTunes. I registered my iPod Touch and got an Apple Id. In this process I got to a page that wanted a credit card number. I could not find a way past this page and still complete the registration. To get any application from the App Store – even free applications – you need an Apple id.
You really have to admire Apple for this model plus the pricing strategy of applications. Many application are free. Applications that are not free are priced at a very low price. At the time of this writing, none of the top 25 pay-based applications are over six dollars. Many applications are priced at $.099 to $3.00.
With a credit card on file 1-tap makes a purchase. For those who buy all those “instant gratification” items near the checkout counter of stores then tap-tap-tap on the iPod Touch and before you know it you may have racked up $50 in charges one small tiny charge at a time.
The App store is great if you can exercise restraint. If you can not exercise restraint then you probably already have a mountain of credit card debt. The App Store is not for you. But it is a beautiful thing from a business and software distribution perspective.
The Apple iTunes Store
You can directly download (and purchase) music, videos, podcasts, audio books, and all the rest of what is available on iTunes to the iPod Touch without a the mediation of a PC/Mac. Users of traditional MP3 players who had to connect to a PC/Mac to place any type of media on the device will find this a welcome new benefit.
For ripped CDs or music obtained in other ways you can always connect the iPod Touch to a PC/Mac and drag/drop the media onto the device in traditional MP3 appliance style.
Some Notable Applications
First things first
Before mentioning some notable applications for the iPod Touch I need to point out that you will NOT (Never!) realize the full benefits of the iPod Touch without access to wireless network.
If you use the iPod Touch at home, without a home wireless network, the capability of the iPod Touch is severely diminished. If you have wired DSL or Cable Internet service at home but no wireless it would be worth it to get a wireless router if you have the iPod Touch.
The benefits of the iPod Touch is so integral with it’s ability to connect to a wireless network I would advise against spending money on the iPod Touch without a home wireless network. Without providing the iPod Touch a wireless connection you have reduced this iPod to a traditional mp3 player – which of course, it is not.
A few notable supplied applications
iPod Touch works with POP and IMAP based mail systems. There is a dedicated application for Gmail supplied with the device. The iPod Touch can sync contacts and mail folders with Gmail and Outlook out of the box.
Using a traditional mail program on a PC I was able to send to the iPod Touch all sorts of file attachments. For example, using Gmail on the iPod Touch Gmail was able to retrieve and properly display Microsoft Word documents, EXCEL files, PowerPoint files, and image attachments.
The Gmail application can display plain text, rich text, and knows how to handle embedded URL links. Gmail is a great application for sending and checking e-mail without going to a laptop or a desktop computer.
This is a version of the Apple Safari web browser for the iPod Touch. Search and view any web page on the Internet. Use the gestures discussed above to enlarge pages as you need for comfortable viewing. You can bookmark pages and place shortcuts to web pages on the iPod Touch home page. Turn the iPod Touch in the landscape position and the image will adjust accordingly.
There is a dedicated YouTube application. Search for any YouTube video and watch it in landscape mode. You can bookmark videos on the iPod Touch. It also keeps track of recent searches and history.
The YouTube application is integrated with e-mail to the point that you and send YouTube video links to your contacts inside the YouTube application without specifically launching the e-mail application.
Some notable free applications from the App Store
One of top 50 applications at the App Store is Google Earth – and it’s free. The application is nothing short of amazing with its integration with “your current location” (see above), the ability of the iPod Touch to sense its orientation in 3-dimensional space, and the gestures of enlarging (zooming) and shirking an image.
Tilting the iPod Touch changes the perspective to the horizon to the point that what you see is very similar to the perspectives one gets when looking out the window of an airplane. You have to see it to believe this.
To the left is is a Google Earth image of the non-existent Area 51. Zoom in and see what is on the runways.
To the right is a fly-though of Area 51 on the Apple iPod Touch.
Never been to Egypt to see the pyramids at Giza? Take a Google Earth flight complements of Steve Jobs, Google Earth, and the Apple iPod Touch.
The iPod Touch is hiding a feature you might not know about. It has audio input capability but you need to buy an accessory to get to it to work. For $30 you can buy the Apple ear-bud, mic, and remote combo. Plug this in to the earphone jack and you now have audio input capability.
If you are have a WiFi/Internet connection, the $30 mic, and the Skype application (free) you can make Skype phone calls from the iPod Touch. I gave this a try and it really works great.
What would the world be without Twitter?
There are many free and pay Twitter applications at the App Store. Twitterific is free. Of course Twitterific allows you to monitor Tweets from around the world.
If you have a Twitter login you can log in and Twitterific will get your profile. So if you are one of the 15,000+ people following Lisa Nova like I am then the iPod Touch will keep you up to date with her evey move and activity. “Follow me!” (See Lisa Nova YouTube reference to Twitter in the References section at the end of this posting)
Twitterific will allow you to send your own tweets if you have a (free) account.
To the left is a snapshot of some Tweets while I was writing this posting. Tweets come in about every 10 seconds or so. The tweets to the left are from 43 seconds ago. Scroll down to see older tweets. Tap a tweet to get more information from the profile of the person who sent it.
Facebook and MySpace
And of course there is a free Facebook and MySpace application. I am not a MySpace or Facebook user so I did not try these out – yet.
First Date – First Impressions
So I have had the iPod Touch for four days. Someone asked me if the iPod Touch was “addictive” and followed up this question with (sensing I would answer “Yes”) “Is that a good thing?”.
So what is a game changer? A game changer is a company that has a newer, better mousetrap to entice its customers. It’s also a company that has the products to create a new market altogether. Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is the best example there.
A game changer defines or re-defines the sector where it competes. A game changer sets the pricing and margin model in its sector. A game changer explores new geographies for its products, and in many cases betters mankind… A game changer, regardless of current size, grows its revenues and earnings at the highest levels within its respective sector. – from goog.bloggingstocks.com
This is part of may answer. The iPod Touch is a game changer in the traditional iPod/MP3 market. The ability of the Apple iPod Touch to connect effortlessly and seamlessly with WiFi along with a full featured web browser, the App store, and iTunes will set a new standard for any company in the traditional MP3 player market.
Basically, Apple has redefined (or made obsolete) the traditional appliance-design MP3 player market with the iPod Touch.
Pull-through to the iPhone
Now you can see what Steve Jobs meant when he said that the Apple iPod Touch is “training wheels for the iPhone”. What the iPod Touch does is take you on the path to the next higher revenue generating product in the line – the Apple iPhone. The iPhone is of course the iPod Touch on steroids adding many more apps, connectivity anywhere – not just at a local WiFi hotspot – the ability to take pictures, and interact with corporate applications in a secure manner.
The Apple iPodTouch is a sort of bootstrap to the iPhone. The Apple iPod Touch “pulls through” the iPhone for those people who experience the iPod Touch and realize they want more. If I did not already have a cell phone provided by my employer I would have an iPhone and not an iPod Touch – since iPhone is the natural convergence of iPod Touch and wireless telephony.
But this is not answering the question. Is the iPod Touch addicting and if I answer yes, then is that a good thing? I am not going to answer this question directly since I think the question misunderstands what is happening in the mainstream culture.
The Generations: the Traditionalists, the Baby Boomers, Generation-X, and the Millennials
The Apple iPod Touch is a definitive and compelling sign of the “connected culture”. This posting on the iPod Touch is a little ahead of a planned posting on this site about the four generations that are alive right now in 2009. These generations are: The Traditionalists, The Baby Boomers, Generation-X, and the Millennials.
Only a Traditionalist or a Boomer could ask the question about the addicting nature of the iPod Touch. Gen-X and Millennials would say that “being connected” is “part of my life”. Gen-X and Millennials never knew a time when there were no computers and/or a time when there was no Internet.
Being globally connected is part of the taken-for-granted landscape of life for Gen-X and Millennials. Asking a Gen-X’er or Millennial if the iPod Touch is addicting is like asking a Traditionalist or Boomer if driving a car is addicting. The fundamental change to the technology landscape of modern society has taken place and it is entrenched.
Enabler to the globally connected community
The Apple iPod Touch is an enabler of the globally connected community. Using the Apple iPod Touch – which fits in my shirt pocket – I can send e-mail to anyone in the world; I can talk to anyone in the world that has the Skype application; I can get a satellite image of any place on the globe with Google Earth. Using the Apple iPod Touch I can access any web site in the world; listen to almost any music of any era in the iTunes Store; download a podcast of a radio show or television show that I may have missed. Going to the CNN or Fox News web site I can find breaking news anyplace in the world, or local to where I live. I can get stock quotes and find out what is going on in the financial markets. I can go the NY Times or nearly any newspaper in the wold for that matter – and search the archives for any newsworthy event that happened today or decades ago.
The Apple iPod Touch, iPhone, and similar mobile products are, in a general sense, enablers of the “connected culture”. To be “not connected” is to live in isolation and on the margins of society.
The four generations – The Traditionalists, The Baby Boomers, Generation-X, and Millennials have been traditionally defined in terms of year of birth and age. There is empirical evidence that attitudes, capabilities, and limitations of individuals can be correlated with their historical generation. The challenge is to break this nearly strict correlation of generation with age.
If I know when you were born I have a good idea of how you think- your capabilities and limitations. What excludes people born into the Traditionalist generation from thinking in a way that is aligned with Millennials? In 2009 what is the most beneficial alignment of individuals with these four generations?
Certainly the Apple iPod Touch can potentially pull though the generations so they all can converge in a globally connected culture – a globally connected culture, made possible by technology, for which there is no turning back.
All the application images above were taken on my iPod Touch. Hold down the home button and hold the power button on the top of the device and the iPod Touch will take a snapshot of the screen.
History of the Apple iPod Touch
It’s amazing on how many people want to take these iPods and iPhones apart. Make sure you go to all the next pages on this site to see the full dissembly
Some definitions and explanations of software and hardware components in these devices
The iPhone Wiki
What’s next for the iPhone – Preview of iPhone 3.0
Still don”t know what Twitter is all about – let Lisa Nova show you.
Video Battle: Twitter vs APRS (Automatic Packet Reporting System)