September 5, 2007

iPod Touch: Apple almost gets it right…

Posted in iPod, Mac, Mac Software, Rants at 4:25 pm by a11en

Well, I’m kicking myself more and more for not buying APPL back in ’94. Today is one of those days. Apple listened or realized what they had here… a wifi enabled iPod with touch-screen ala iPhone. Fantastic. The price-point is not that bad either. However, there are a few things blatantly *wrong* with the new iPod Touch… and here’s my take on them…

No microphone and speaker.

As far as I can tell based on the specifications, there is currently no microphone or speaker included into the iPodTouch. As well, there is no blue-tooth connectivity. Connections can only be made via the wifi connection or via the USB port. So, this means, at least for now, absolutely no Skype abilities. Wow. Apple really missed the boat on this one. If this thing had Skype they would sell about 10x the number of units the very first month. Perhaps 100x the number of units. As it is, this thing is big.. but let’s be honest here. Useable skype in a hand-held Wifi device would be HUGE. Apple would literally change the face of telecommunication if they did this. Instead, I believe they decided to play a bit of product tier marketing. They felt- well, let’s not confuse people with a Skype enabled iPod… let’s make them buy the overpriced (due to service contracts etc.) iPhone. Apple is saving it’s own butt on this one. They won’t lose as many users from the iPhone with the new iPod, and they won’t piss off Cingular at the same time.

No GPS chip on board.

So, you want to find all the local Star-Bucks? Well, forget using an internal GPS chip to help with routing via Google Maps or Google Earth. Just like the iPhone, the iPodTouch has no GPS capabilities. Big mistake on this one guys… there’s a whole slew of things that could have been done if you had added a GPS chip. For instance- “see where my pals are”… or “find nearest bookstore”… now I assume you’ll have to type in your current location (snore… ZZzzzz). Although, for my tin-foil hat wearing friends (I’m a part-timer) this means Google won’t know exactly what you read and exactly where you are every moment of the day (a good thing perhaps). šŸ™‚

A bit too light on the GB’s.

Ok, so you have a wide-screen iPod capable of all sorts of goodies, you can do web2.0, and likely also streaming video etc. But, what about integration with video via iTunes? What about downloading and installing full length movies for that plane flight? [How big is that movie file again?]… at only 8 GB or 16 GB, the iPodTouch is a bit lacking on ability to store a number of BIG media files. This is a huge mistake. There should be no reason why I can’t have 3 or 4 movies as well as all my music on this thing. I suspect Apple will make a show of streaming via WiFi in an attempt to offset this lacking memory. Obviously the device is flash-ram based (a plus for those who have bricked their iPod’s that have hard-drives), however, at this size, are we sure we’re really in for a serious machine like this with such a small amount of memory?

Lack of BlueTooth – huge mistake.

Ok, to add insult to injury here, we find that the iPod Touch has no bluetooth abilities. Yes, I said “No Bluetooth”. Ok… the reason I harp on this is as follows. (1) Lack of communication ability via Wifi… obviously Apple is seeing this as a “Reader” not a full-fledged Internet communication device (again, Skype killer). If BlueTooth was possible, we could (2) sync via the computer w/o usb, we could even (3) use BlueTooth enabled cameras to download and catalog all our camera files. As well, we could link to other devices, say a (4) GPS even… hell, the whole world practically opens up with bluetooth capability, (5) local iPod to iPod connectivity, (6) wireless stereo headsets… the list goes on and on. Hell, a (7) blue-tooth connection to your fancy schmancy car… Or the ability to take (8) voice notes or (9) class-lecture recordings. Need I go on? Hell, even have a dialer function for your blue-tooth enabled phone, with address-book support!!! (10).

And, now we see how Apple set up it’s product tree, I fear. You see, if they had done these things, it would have become an iPhone killer product. Most people likely *don’t* want to have their iPod coupled with their phone. But, give them semi-reasonable Wifi connectivity and BlueTooth support, and you have a very useful product. I’ll deal with Skype for that one friend of mine who uses it too… but for everyone? I think not. Would I have paid for that limited ability? You betcha. I would have paid an extra 100 easy for bluetooth capability with microphone support. Add a GPS and extra memory, and I may have even paid an extra 200.

OsX and iPodTouch application development?

The true killer for this device will be simple. With its above limitations, it’s a nice internet browser and limited video/audio media device. Lack of high-quality recording function continues to plague all of apple’s products, and likely will continue in the far future due to Apple’s appeasement of the payola scamming record labels. It’s a shame that even though I don’t ever purchase from these guys that I still am feeling the effects of a backwards antiquated record company schema. Fine. Let’s leave that for another day. But, what will the real killer of this device be?

Lack of application development– That will be the real killer. I have yet to see if I can run a cisco vpn, an ssh terminal to my local machine with Mutt and screen via terminal… hell, the ability to directly fix websites on the fly would be wonderful. The ability to get into the os, and produce applications is what will really make this device useful. The question is- will this be? Will we be able to tap into the strength of the FreeBSD underpinnings? Mount webdav servers? Upload/download pdf files for view? There are reams of possibilities and this one item may be the true killer for this device. Will it be a serious device, or merely a candy-of-the-month toy? We’ll have to see…

The future I suspect will be like this:

The products I see in the near future: a USB-Bluetooth connection for Skype users, a USB attached GPS unit for geocachers and others, a Microphone attachment that can handle the first, as well as enable note-taking in class (ala the iTalk).

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12 Comments »

  1. a11en said,

    Another biggie will be how well it can talk with a “home-base”… for instance, can I pull down another bunch of songs or a video from my home-computer (say via Mac.Com- perhaps the one reason to get it?)? Or, will I be stuck with no connectivity via my home-computer (scp etc.), and be forced to go via iTunes etc., and not a simple mounting option? [It’s unlikely they will remove the iTunes loader control… now we see it’s getting more and more painful to have that thing be the go-to connectivity for these devices… Apple’s got to learn to let go a bit here…] Will I be able to download all the recent journal article PDF’s that I really need to read, but don’t want to print out 50 pages for? Can I take notes on the pdf’s and re-upload them to my home-base computer via wifi?

    So many possibilities… if Apple plays the game right, this device will be very very big. But, we see they already played the game a bit wrong with the lack of the above. Let’s see what they do to developers… that will be the true mark of the times to come here.

  2. Topo said,

    I don’t care too much about Bluetooth, but I absolutely agree with you on iPodTouch’s lacking of microphone/speaker/VoIP. If I could use Skype or Gizmo on iPodTouch I would have bought one already.

  3. No Bluetooth, no microphone, no speaker, no Skype, no 80GB hard drive, no camera, no Firewire, no editing tools, no Quicken, no Microsoft Office, no vibrator, no answer to why we exist and our purpose in the cosmos, and most damning: no coupons for free pony rides…

    I’m sure you’ll be racing to buy a Zune to stick it to Apple for making the worst iPod ever (that is except for all its predecessors).

    Get a grip. The device is a fricking MEDIA PLAYER not the swiss army knife of mobile computing and communications. Criticize the device for what it is meant to be, not for not being the device you wish they made.

    Some of your complaints about GPS or being able to load 3rd party apps would sound like reasonable requests for future versions of the iPhone (though last I checked it hadn’t hurt sales any, with a million sold), but not not an iPod.

    • Kayo said,

      You’re on top of the game. Thanks for shainrg.

  4. a11en said,

    Hey, Topo! Thanks for dropping in!

    Yeah, I completely agree with you- if they had a built-in microphone, they would have made a killing on the sale of this. I’m sort of wondering if perhaps there might not be a future option of ear-phones with a microphone built into the wire… but I really don’t see Apple doing this. Based on how little we see the iPodTouch utilizing it’s Wifi capability, I think we can’t hope for much as far as Apple support for all these wonderful capabilities. I suspect within a month we’ll see a Skype-solution in the works with working prototypes by way of the USB connection.

    As it is, I have to make a clarification. Over the many years I’ve been an Apple purchaser and Mac user, I have seen things coming down the tube… hoped for a unix underpinning, seen them cripple chipsets at various times, and miss the boat on items that I felt would make their products a bit more “kick-ass”. It hurts when I see that happen. To be very honest with everyone here, this experience has taught me to be very cautious with Apple’s future. I see these possibilities, and I *hope* and *hope* for this or that from them, only to see them fubar it in one way or another. I mean in a big way, not a small way. This was one of the first times that Apple really surprised me…

    It was so painfully obvious that they could market and sell (big time) a touch-screen iPod with WiFi capabilities, that I was almost banging my head against the wall with the release of the iPhone… why didn’t Apple “get it?”… and I can see now that they did “get it”… I suspect this is only the first of a number of products down the line that exploits this new touch-screen interface. Of course, the big question is: “Will Apple finally realize all our dreams and put out a tablet based *fast* chipset full-fledged osX device?” I mean, it’s so apparent the market is there… a company is even making them with an altered powerbook/wacom tablet screen. The inkwell technology is embedded into the Os. The only question is whether or not Jobs hates the Newton so much that he will never ever touch another portable hand-writing based device. That’s a sad thing, because someone will eventually beat them to it. The Toshiba tablets are already beating them to the punch (almost every doctor’s visit I’ve been to was using them).

    Apple has a serious opportunity here… a bigger screen, adding inkwell handwriting recognition, a more serious chipset, a larger usb bus, bluetooth, etc. and we have a killer device. Inkwell and touch-technology is the killer-app… add google map support with GPS enabled, and you have a serious mobile computer. when I get home, I can plug into the modified DVI mini plug and USB hub and get my full desktop right from my palm.

    So, what’s different about now? Why not the Newton? Well, people quite simply weren’t ready for it. Much like Os/2. Amazing system software… too big for most chipsets, and people weren’t ready for it. By the time they were, other things were a bit faster. Much like GXfonts- amazing technology, but no one really really needed it. Now- if you gave them GXfonts within a system like Pages, I think people would seriously exploit them.

    I personally feel people are ready for the coffee-surfing/presentation running/communications/internet web-tablet like device which is capable of more serious work when plugged in at home. I know I’d buy it.

    My belief is by Dec. next year we’ll see a much larger screen being sported on the iPod Touch, and we’ll also see options with microphones. But, Apple right now doesn’t want to piss off ATT or it’s other partners (google?) with doing anything stupid. It already pissed off a number of early adopters (iPhoners) by releasing almost the same thing within 2 months of the release. The only thing I can think of, is that Apple felt they had to release the iPhone first, or else it wouldn’t sell right… the FCC clearance took a long time… they had this developed way earlier than they are letting on. I suspect in-house they already have various touch-technology devices in the works, and perhaps we’ll see them very soon. Perhaps the dry-spell before the iPhone was just the ticket to get Apple back on the fast-track for giving users the next new thing in a timely fashion.

    So, I give modest kudos to Apple for not pissing me off and make me bang my head against the wall too hard… you gave me exactly what I was thinking you should, and you did it a bit sooner than I expected (I was thinking Jan release). Now, let’s see if you open this platform up for some more serious development. Perhaps you can’t get too mad if Griffin technologies makes a Skype-ready plug-in device? After all, it’s not you doing it… so ATT can’t be too mad at you. šŸ˜‰

    hahaha

    Cheers, Topo, and any other readers out there!
    -Allen

  5. a11en said,

    Hey Shawn! Thanks for dropping in, man!

    Listen- you’re right. I’m not that pissed off, and hopefully my last post explains that. Apple finally gave us a “wow”! When we weren’t expecting it. Sure, the Nano with video was what we heard was down the line… and the price and size bumps etc., are somewhat to be expected.

    I guess the problem, is that Apple does things so well, that often, people wonder, why can’t it be perfect? Look, it’s not exactly a media device. 80gigs would make it a media device. How did I get feature length movies on the thing? How many could I hold plus half my library of music? It’s something in between. It does both fairly well.

    I hate to say this, also, but, honestly, who uses Coverflow? Even when it was a cute separate app from iTunes, no one really really used it. They used it to show off how cute things were, not for serious manipulation of their music. My feeling is it’s a cute flashy feature without much use, other than to show off nice artwork on the album covers. Will it let me surf 50-100 albums extremely quickly? Nope. But, look, I’m not really knocking coverflow. The device is sweet. I really wasn’t expecting this from Apple until way later than this. I suspected they might do it, but they’ve done some wacko things before, and I figured they might *not* do it. So, some serious f*ing Kudos to Apple for releasing this.

    The reason I address it’s mobile-computing ability, is because it really is capable of mobile-computing. With the OS and the chipset, etc., you really could do some mail editing and some skyping with this device. Seriously. Hell, just to get rid of the stupidity that is the Palm Desktop and Conduit issues, I’d be a happy camper dancing in the streets, even with Black and White displays. So, here we are, the os is more than capable of SSH tunnels, more than capable of IMAP and POP mail, more than capable of doing Jabber and iChat abilities, etc. Of Course everyone is going to start talking about just that! So, don’t be surprised when the geeks start complaining there isn’t Mail.app and iChat.app and Preview.app on this thing. There should be.

    So, I agree with you, Shawn. Apple did an awesome thing today by releasing this thing. Worst of it is, that I’ll likely be getting one this semester, because the damned thing is too sweet to pass up. And the price-point is reasonable.

    So, just incase anyone doesn’t think I’m a Mac Evangelist anymore: “Go Apple!!” Next time, I just want them to Go a bit harder… and I’m sure they will. They’ve let the cat out of the bag with this Wifi connectivity, there’s no way they can put it back in without it seriously hurting them. We’re going to continue to see increased ability and connectivity in future hardware releases! And that’s freakin’ awesome.

    Cheers, Shawn! Thanks a ton for dropping in, and I’m glad to have the other side represented. I don’t think I explained enough the first time that I did think the device was freakin’ sweet. And I seriously didn’t expect this from Apple so soon. I knew the could do it… I just didn’t think they would. (Burned once, twice shy.)

    Cheers!
    -Allen

  6. Fair enough. Glad to have provided the usefull boot to the head. šŸ™‚

  7. Henrikki said,

    Just popping by, so don’t know if you are familiar with Nokia N800. It has Skype support today. Works very well.

    http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070711-first-look-skype-for-the-nokia-n800-internet-tablet.html

    http://www.osnews.com/story.php/17052/Review-The-Nokia-N800-Internet-Tablet/

  8. Rich said,

    You guys are retarded šŸ˜› lol, the Ipod Touch Doesnt have more then 16GB flash memory cause its only 8mm thick and its FLASH MEMORY, which is pretty damn good considering. FLASH MEMORY lacks the extended use weardown of traditional mini HDd of older ipods and doesnt skip (yes ipods skip). Flash memory is a smart bet.

    WiFi > Bluetooth .. gg
    Not including Bluetooth is very smart, not only would bluetooth eat the battery power, but its going to be outdated very soon. If your unaware of what im talking about pick up a Globe&Mail once and a while before you whine about a product not having what you THINK you want. Theres a new set of headphones coming out thats.. Veddy nice.. Veddy nice indeed.. plus WiFi is fast enough.

    Plus, we can just hack the hell out of the Touch Platform on release and im pretty damn sure the OS will bend which ever way you feel ness..

  9. a11en said,

    Oh my, retarded… that’s a good one, Rich. šŸ˜‰

    Yes, I think I mentioned it’s flash, and infact, I mentioned it has some serious advantages.

    Well, seriously, now, I don’t think Apple is thinking along the lines of long-term product use… so Bluetooth would be right up the alley for this device… not to mention it’s really an iPhone internally… so it’s already designed onto the board. Hell, if Apple was thinking this thing would last 5-10 years, I might agree with ya, but I doubt we’ll see blue-tooth going away anytime soon. [Don’t tell the BMW owners that their internal BlueTooth network is useless in 5 years…]

    I agree with your hacking thoughts- and I’m sure that’s already in the preparations as we speak. As far as the OS bending every which way, to some extent you’ll be right… but what about adding to the kernel, or hardware awareness? Even if someone resolders on a microphone to the board, will it recognize it? Will it be available as a /dev to the rest of the OS?

    In anycase, it’s a very interesting future. The fact that numerous people have discussed this very same thing- larger hard-drive, blue-tooth, etc., means that I’m not the only one wishing this thing had a bit more umph. Granted, an HD and bluetooth *would* require more battery… hell, just make it thicker. We all know the power constraints of those things. Obviously they worked out BT in their phones… the HD’s they already have in a well developed product line.

    I think what we’re really seeing here, Rich, is that Apple released a product that has had little to no development other than some minor hardware changes. Hell, it sounds as though they didn’t even change the binary (see GizModo post). If that’s true, this lends a bit more credence to the Hacker-Killer status of this iPod, as well as to the product tier posturing that Apple is playing with currently… if they gave us an iPhone without the cell-connection, I guarantee the iPhone users would raise holy hell. As it is, they already raised holy-hell just over the 2 month release date and the price drop. Imagine if we were handed everything (including software from apple)… bloody murder would ensue!

    Nope, this is Apple making ATT happy, and giving us a pretty sweet machine albeit crippled version if iPhone. The hacking of the iPod case (usually the first day some looney-toon gets it) will prove that one out, I think.

    Cheers, and thanks a ton for stopping by, Rich. I appreciate having your viewpoint added, man! [And can understand it!]
    -Allen

  10. anteater said,

    “Useable skype in a hand-held Wifi device would be HUGE”

    – I already have this in my nokia n80 with fring (fring.com)

  11. Hi !, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you! Thank you for your info.And this is Tablets Computers site/blog. It pretty much covers Tablets Computers related stuff.


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