Last week I added a new iPod to the family - the iPod Touch. This is not just an iPod in the sense of music, but an iPod in the sense of a truly portable network device with a sexy interface to boot. The iPod is no longer the music player that it was when it was originally released, with music now just playing a much smaller part of the product.
When planning my purchase I was torn between the iPod Touch and the iPhone, the only differentiating factors being the camera and the phone capabilities (and therefore its ubiquitous data connection). At basically the same initial price for both, it didn't make sense for me to go for a mobile phone with an 18 month contract that had a below par camera when I could also go for a free Nokia N95 and its embedded 5 megapixel camera while paying around the same amount of money on a contract. Thanks to my employer I already had a chance to try out Nokia's internet enabled camera and loved its quality and ability to post photos directly to the internet and am looking forward to being able to do that again in the near future.
There's quite a bit of overlap between the iPod Touch and the N95, but the Touch has an interface that's just so much nicer to use than the N95, for mail and web browsing especially. Talking of overlap, at eight gigabytes the device isn't big enough to hold my entire iTunes collection, so I don't think I'll be ditching my 80 gigabyte iPod Classic any time soon.
Despite being very pleased overall with the Touch, there are a few things that I'd really love to see added to the device:
- Media streaming from other iTunes libraries on the network
- Wireless syncing with host computer
- Jabber chat client
- Video plugins for Safari to allow viewing of RealPlayer content (e.g. from the BBC)
- Email search in the Mail app (server-side)
Without a cellular data connection, the wifi on the device is very important for those times you want to access the internet when out and about. There are a number of UK companies and organisations starting to provide free wifi in their premises (e.g. Wetherspoons pubs, McDonalds, local libraries and other places) and in public spaces which is great, and the Cloud has dropped their monthly fees for iPod Touch owners to a price that mirrors what you'd pay for a single hour at most wireless hotspots.
It's also amazing how many other venues have wifi available in them thanks to some unknown third party provider. This is a grey area when it comes to the law though, with wifi theft already being punished under the Communications Act 2003 in a number of cases. I say it's a grey area because there is often no easy way of telling if an open wifi hotspot has been intentionally provided free of charge either by a venue or by someone else actively sharing their connection for passers-by.