Monday, July 14, 2008

ipod touch 2.0 software

I was really looking forward to the iphone 3G launch last Friday, mainly for the added functionality it would bring to the ipod touch. Like the millions of Mac faithful, I started checking sites on Friday morning for pointers to when the software would be released. I soon discovered that Apple had launched the itunes store in India and was able to create an Itunes account by entering my credit card details. But, there was still no sign of the new ipod touch software. It finally became available on Friday evening, coinciding with the launch of the iphone 3G in the US. However, the update experience was anything but smooth. Over the next few hours, I encountered a variety of errors, ranging from “Itunes store is unavailable” to “Your version of ipod software (1.1.4) is the latest”. Disappointed, I gave up and decided to try again the next day.

The experience was completely different on Saturday morning when I tried again. This time, I got the notification about the update and quickly got through the payment formalities and started the download. The update was 223 MB in size and downloaded in just over 20 minutes at an average speed of almost 1.5 Mb/s. The entire process of updation was completely automated with no interaction required from my side. The longest part was the backup and restore, which seemed to take forever. I guess transferring over 20 gigs over a slow USB connection to a flash based device will always be slow.

The biggest change and the most expected feature of the 2.0 software was the App Store. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed with the app store, as most of the good apps were paid ones. I wanted to wait for a few days before purchasing any software as I am not sure how it will work for India (exchange rate etc). There are quite a few free apps but very few of them are any good. Though I installed quite a few, I don’t see myself using them on a sustained basis. So, for me atleast, the biggest feature of the update was a bit of a letdown.

The other feature that I was really looking forward to was the Exchange support. I had a few issues setting this up, mainly because I did not have the required information to set up the VPN to my company’s network. But once I got that, it was extremely straightforward. Checking my official email has now become a quick and simple exercise. The mail client is not very full featured and this is mainly useful for monitoring email and sending out quick replies rather than lengthy emails.

Other than these two features, I didn’t see anything else of note. There’s the Mobileme, but I’m not going to pay 4000 rupees a year for that functionality. There are still quite a few features that I didn’t find. Here is my top 3 wishlist

- Itunes store: I stopped buying CD’s a while ago because I found it to be a complete waste of resources, as I was just using them once, to rip them to my computer. I would love to have the ability to download legal mp3 at Rs 10 per song. I can do it today through Soundbuzz or mobile companies stores, but they are completely locked down with DRM. I understand our music companies reasoning that it will lead to widespread piracy. However, I don’t think they should worry about piracy, as pirated mp3’s of their songs are available everywhere on the Internet and on every street corner. If they only opened up their closed thinking, they will find this to be a very good revenue stream

- Ability to download podcasts over the air. As the touch has a wifi connection, I should be able to manage my podcasts from the device rather than from my computer

- Enhanced video file support (esp .avi files and the xvid codec): I was initially very thrilled about the video viewing experience on the touch, but I’ve cooled down a bit. The first problem is the restriction on the video format and codec support. This means that I have to transcode most of my videos before I can watch them. The second issue is my Nokia N800. Quite frankly, I find the video viewing experience to be better there as it has a bigger screen and a comfortable stand to seat the device. The one advantage that the touch had over the n800 was the higher capacity, but I’m getting a couple of 8 GB SD cards, which should make it a non issue. For now, I think the N800 is going to be my primary video device.

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