Friday, July 11, 2008

Ipod Touch 2.0

I'm slightly ashamed to admit I actually paid the 10 bucks to update my iPod Touch to the newest software. But I'm more than slightly annoyed that I had to pay anything to update my iPod at all. By charging Touch users and not iPhone users, Apple is basically creating a tier system that says I'm a somehow inferior consumer of their products. It's somewhat insulting, nonsensical, and lacking sense from a business perspective. Sure, I paid the ten bucks, but it left me slightly resentful and with a bad taste in my mouth. Why charge for the ability to pay to download more applications?

But that's neither here nor there. There's no sense complaining about the charge since I was the sucker who forked it over the first day of release.

No wait... I paid on the second day, since the itunes store was down for the first 24 hours. So not only did I have to pay for the new software, but I had to wait a day to pay for it.

But, again, that's beside the point. Let's talk about the software itself. Was it worth the ten bucks?


There were some interesting updates to the OS and functionality of the device, almost all of which are for the better, most of which are most beneficial for the iPhone, and all of which are too boring to discuss here. The real meat of the update, and the reason why I, and most people, downloaded it was for the App Store.

And it's pretty cool. But, frankly, it's also something that should've been available since day 1. And it shouldn't been free. But there I go again...

The App Store is just as easy to navigate and use as the Music store and everything else Apple has invented. Browsing is easy, downloading is easy, and syncing the iPod with my Mac is easy. You can download apps to your computer or directly to your iPod via wi-fi. Everything is sorted and ranked the same as on the music store, by category, popularity, etc.

The pricing structure seems a little wacky though. Lots of stuff is free, and much is so cheap it may as well be free, but some is just way too expensive. According to the App Store, Super Monkey Ball is the most downloaded game so far. I'm sure it's a fun game and all, but there are actually enough people willing to pay 10 bucks to play a game on their iPod?

There isn't even a way to play a demo for any of these games. You just have to purchase them on faith. That's ok if the game is 99 cents, or even a couple bucks, but ten dollars? No thanks. Especially considering the fact that playing games on a touchscreen isn't actually much fun. Here's a note to all of the game developers: Rubbing your finger back and forth across a glass touchscreen is actually really unpleasant. Try rubbing your finger tip against your monitor right now for a few minutes and you'll being to understand what I mean.

Anyway, I've stuck with all of the free stuff, and thankfully there's a lot of it. Here's what I've tried out so far:

This sucks. Touch the screen and bubbles appear. Touch the bubbles and the disappear. They don't pop mind you, even though they make a popping sound effect. They just vanish from the screen. The animation is bad, the look is garish, and the fun factor is non-existent. I thought there'd be some kind of pleasure from popping bubbles, but the control is so far removed from what is actually happening on screen that it just doesn't feel right. I don't expect much from a free game designed for the iPod, but this one fell short of even that.

Check Please:
A slightly obtuse but functional tip calculator. Once you get used to the design, it's actually really useful and powerful, as tip calculators go anyway. You can set the tip percentage, tax, and even the number of people in your party. I like this one and recommend it.

Jirbo Break:
This is basically Arkanoid, or Brick Breaker, or whatever else it's been called over the years. You rub your finer along the screen to move your cursor under the ball. You've played it before. It's fun... but not on an iPod. As I said above, rubbing your finger along a screen over and over again just doesn't feel good. In fact, it feels bad. Play this to long and you'll get caluses.

Jirbo Match:
This is a kind of fun match game. You know the drill: You get to uncover two cards at once, until you find and make matches. It's cute and addictive. I like it and recommend it, if you know that you like match games.

This is completely pointless. It's a "flashlight" application that turns the screen all white... so you can see in dark rooms. There's nothing to say about this. It works and it might even come in handy. And I'm sure it doesn't take up much memory. Go ahead and download it.

Tap Tap Revenge:
This is actually a really fun, really clever music game. It's sort of like Guitar Hero, but on a touchscreen. You have to tap the dots as they fall down the screen in time to the music. It's hard to explain but it's easy to get into. This is actually a great game and I recommend it. It's just fun.

Urban Spoon:
Unsure of where to go for dinner? Download Urban Spoon and let it decide for you. It logs through a wi-fi connection to access information about restaurants in the area. Then you just shake your iPod (or press a button if you're in public and don't want to look like an idiot) and it randomly picks a restaurant, offering links to reviews information, etc. You can enter parameters that limit your search to certain cuisines or price ranges as well. This application is awesome.

And that's all I've downloaded so far. Was it worth the time and money I spent to upgrade the software? Probably not at this point, but as the App Store grows and the applications get better and more plentiful, I'm sure it will be a worthwhile investment.

But let's hope version 2.1 is free.

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