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iPod Touch 2.0

July 15, 2008

Okay, I must blog about this.

Last week Apple finally released the 2.0 version of the software for iPhone and iPod Touch that allows one to install third-party software.  This has been a long time coming, and it has just blown open the doors for new possibilities with these portable devices.  I’ve been loving my iPod Touch for a while now, but I knew that the availability of new software would be … well, revolutionary.

Mind you, the upgrade process was pure hell.  For some reason, Apple seems to have been taken completely by surprise with the concept that people might rush to upgrade,  even though everyone had been clamoring for this update for ages.  The servers literally crapped out for a good 24 hours.  This stank for those of us at home, but it was nothing compared to those who were buying the new iPhones that had been released simultaneously and had to be activated at the store … people were left standing around for hours.

BUT … all was forgiven when I upgraded my iPod.  This update is beautiful.  I now have access to something like 800 apps for my iPod, many of them free.  These include pretty much anything someone could want on a wireless device.  I am really impressed with the new apps from news services.  In fact, I’m a little baffled that the NY Times is so cool on my iPod now … it’s nowhere near as cool on the web itself! Ya see, what baffles me about this, is that for some reason the Times made the app amazing for this device, but still make it just look like a newspaper on the web … why don’t they make the website this cool?  I don’t even want to go to the web version anymore.  The iPod version is nicely divided into sections, but all of the stories are just listed in a scrolling column with a picture beside it.  Click on one of those stories  and you go to a larger version.  This really works well for me, and it does not look like a newspaper (and you see, I have always been an evangelist for the idea that web sites don’t have to look like their sources …  in fact, they probably shouldn’t).  Twitter has also provided an iPod app, which is nice, and just about any web-based service is likely madly working on their own iPod/iPhone version.

Perhaps the most amazing thing is the idea of the iPod as a gaming device.  The thing has an accelerometer in it that allows it to know it’s own orientation in space.  Last winter I was telling a class that this will be key to the success of this device and it appears that I was right.  Games are great with the accelerometer utilized for control.  For instance, I bought “Cro-Mag Rally”  (a game I played years ago on the desktop, and it’s better on my little iPod.  I steer my little car through the course by tilting the device, and while I wasn’t initially sold on this idea, in practice it’s brilliant. The graphics look great, and the little screen is not a problem.

The best thing is that we’re in the very early days.  I suspect that people will be flocking to take advantage of this platform and its growing popularity, and apps are appearing every day.  This is a new frontier and that is very exciting.

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