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Troglodyte Goes iOS: My iPod Touch Experience

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I carry a basic phone, and I don’t own a tablet. I am a software developer, but I’m a dinosaur in many ways. I recently bought an iPod Touch. For work.

Honest. Mobile browsing is becoming popular, and sites need to work on mobile devices. The easiest way to check for mobile compatibility is to resize your browser window, but a site that works with a mouse might not be that usable with a touchscreen. Apple makes an iOS emulator for various devices, but the screen of the iOS emulator is larger on-screen than it is on the actual device. I decided to get an iPod Touch for testing web sites.

I don’t limit my use of the iPod Touch to web browsing. I’ve installed a few (free) games on it, tried a few different apps, and played around with it a little.

The iPod Touch is a device that I have conflicted feelings about.

It’s an uncomplicated device. Setup was mostly painless, and installing apps could not be easier. In that regard, Apple’s work is appreciated. The YouTube, Facebook, and Gmail applications that I tried worked well. The Facebook app is especially slick and is easier to use than the desktop version of the site.

However, I don’t currently see the iPod Touch as a ‘daily use’ device.

Text entry on a touch screen is unsatisfactory. It’s hunt-and-peck with no tactile feedback. Automatic word correction only serves to extend the amount of time it takes me to enter text. Auto correction rarely works for me as Apple intended, and it only corrects uncommon words that I need to use. The iPod Touch is made for viewing and listening, and I think that the whole experience behind touch screen typing is poor because the focus is not on content creation.

Gaming on the iPod Touch is mostly disappointing. There are some wonderful uses of the touch screen (like Dungeon Raid), but there are also plenty of games (like Wind-Up Knight) where virtual buttons are slapped on the screen. I have played video games since the 90s, and I can safely say that virtual buttons are always unreliable and unusable compared to their real-world counterparts. Jetpack Joyride and Run Roo Run are alright, and they make decent use of the touch screen (by allowing the player to tap anywhere), but I found them to be a bit too basic.

My iPod Touch, while useful, is not something that impresses me. I’m glad that I bought one, but I will probably not get an iPad or iPhone in the near future.

Hey, if you happened to like this article, be sure to check out Command Key: My First Month with a Mac Mini and Command Key: an Update. Those were posted over at my ‘professional blog’ because the tone was more technical than this article’s tone.