Note to anyone whose sense of humour is lacking: Before you start throwing around words like zealot and hater, understand that the title of this post isn’t entirely serious. The title was inspired by a dent by Bradley M. Kuhn. So please chill out.
On to the story … In spring of 2010, a friend of mine took a three-month-long trip. And thanks to his beneficence, I had the use of an iPod Touch 3G until he came back to Canada at the end of May. Yes, I have some very trusting friends.
If you’re wondering why he didn’t carry the device with him, said friend was travelling while carrying 10 pounds of less, a la Tim Ferriss. My friend’s iPod is one of the things he decided not to pack.
During the time the iPod Touch was in my possession, I used it for more than just listening to music. I experimented with incorporating the iPod Touch into my workflow. It was an interesting experiment, to say the least.
Here are some thoughts about the time I spent touching evil.
Believe it or not, there was some. The iPod Touch is a nifty piece of hardware. Compact, fast, responsive, and very easy to use. I can understand why Apple’s products are so popular.
As I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, I tried to incorporate the device into my workflow. That work is writing, and I managed to do just that with some nice apps. I’ve written about some of those apps here and here.
During the time I had the iPod Touch in my possession, I was doing a bit of travelling. I took the device with me and used it to access wireless hotspots so I could check my email, do some instant messaging, update my blogs, and browse the Web. And, of course, to do some work. I had no trouble getting on wifi, with or without using a service called Boingo Mobile.
My biggest problem with the iPod Touch is iTunes. Not the online store, but the software. There’s no iTunes software for Linux (and maybe that’s a good thing). All of the workarounds I tried for Linux didn’t work. So, I had to install iTunes in a virtual instance of Windows. What a major pain in the neck (and a point a few feet lower).
With every media player I’ve owned, using additional software to manage my media was optional. I could just plug the device into a USB port on my computer and my computer would mount it like it was a storage device. And iTunes … talk about a big, lumbering, buggy piece of software. I just don’t understand why I couldn’t just copy over my music (the tracks I didn’t buy from the iTunes store) without having to use iTunes. Frustrating.
The iTunes problem really reared its head when I tried to download a book in ePub format from Feedbooks. The browser on the device refused to download the book, telling me that it was a file in an unknown format. So? It’s not up to the browser decide what I can and can’t download. It can warn me, but that’s about it.
The lack of multitasking is annoying, too. Very annoying. I’m not the type of person who has a dozen application running on my laptops or portable devices at any one time. But I tend to keep a couple open: the application I’m working in, a browser, and maybe an email client. Why, when I’m (for example) doing something in the Twitter app, should I have to drop to a home screen, start the mail app, then drop to a home screen again to restart the Twitter app? They can run side-by-side on my Nexus One …
Finally, I had some trouble with other hardware. I couldn’t stick in a microSD card to backup my data. And when I wanted to try recording some voice notes and an interview or two for a podcast, the device wouldn’t recognize my microphone. Strange, since every other device that I plugged the mic into did recognize it.
End of the experiment
The bad, in my mind, outweighed the good. As I said earlier, the iPod Touch is very nice piece of hardware that’s easy to use. But it’s too locked down for my tastes. In the end, I I returned it to my friend and haven’t missed it.
Well, not quite. I would love to have a device like it running Linux or Android. I’ve explored a few, but there aren’t that many portable media players on the market that meet my requirements. There is one, and I’m definitely going to give it a closer look when it’s available in Canada.
Thoughts? Feel free to leave a comment.