Monday, May 31, 2010

iPod tOuch complaints

The iPod Touch is a fantastic device--I love mine, and don't want to be without it  However, some of its limitations are maddening--in large part because they are arbitrary and artificial, rather than being genuine limits of the system.  Many people "jailbreak" their iPhones, removing these artificial restrictions.

Some of these limits make sense on the iPhone, like limiting certain apps to wifi, or limiting the size of 3g downloads.  Some of the limits on the Touch are plausibly "if you can't do it well, don't do it". Apps are restricted to Apple-Approved, and only Apple apps are allowed to run while other things are going on.   This means I can listen to music via the built-in music app, while downloading from an official Apple source, while using yet another app--but I can't listen to Pandora while doing anything else.  Apple says this is to maintain battery life.  

One of the most annoying needless limitations are how the iTouch handles podcasts.  Podcasts are a sort of audio blog, using the same RSS protocols that most blogs do so new episodes can show up automatically.  Podcasts are yet another feature that needlessly requires a computer to do right.   While the Touch can download a podcast without a computer if it is available on iTunes, it cannot automate the download.--to a large extent defeating the purpose of the podcast. The easiest way to get new podcasts is to go to the podcast section of the music app, note the most recent podcast, then click the "get more episodes" link which will take you to the iTunes store, and show you the most recent podcasts.  While in the store, there's no indication which podcasts you've already downloaded, so you need to remember where you left off.  If you want to download the recent episodes of a different podcast, go back to the music app and repeat.  It is possible to download directly from the store by searching, but that is cumbersome enough that the above procedure is significantly easier.   If you want to keep a list of podcasts, you must keep at least one podcast from each, otherwise that entry disappears.

All of this seems deliberately non-friendly.  Since Apple is Interface above all else except profit, this is almost certainly deliberate, to ensure you use iTunes.

I found the ipod app  "RSS player" to do podcasts.  In theory it should do everything I need--but it is buggy to the point of uselessness.  I shouldn't need it in the first place, but it should at least do its job.   It also makes me wonder what the point of the Apple Store's approval process is. 

Another annoyance is that I cannot delete music directly from the touch, I need a computer.  I also can't save music, except via iTunes., although I can play music from a web page.

I can't sync via wifi, only via USB.  Third party apps are the opposite--they can only transfer via wifi, and NOT via USB.

...and if iTunes for Windows understood the concept of multiple users, much of this would be less of an issue.  We only have one Windows computer in the house, it has iTunes--but even though I have a different user account than my wife, iTunes brings up HER stuff instead of mine, regardless of which account.  There is a way of launching iTunes that lets you select which account, but it isn't intuitive.
--If I remember right, hold Shift, then it lets you pick a profile.

It astounds me that they do some stuff so well, and other stuff that is just as critical to the user experience so poorly.

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