Yes, I know I’ve written my first impressions of the iPod touch, but now that I have one in my hot little hands without a line of anxious journalists waiting to put their likewise perspiring paws on it, I’ve had some time to notice that which was not noticed before. Including:
Higher-pitched click. Really, it gets better. But I might as well point out the obvious fact that since the iPod touch doesn’t have an external speaker like the iPhone, it uses a “clicker” like other iPods, a side effect of which is a higher-pitched click noise than the iPhone. (When you connect the iPod touch to a computer, it doesn’t chime like the iPhone, either — it emits the familiar trill that iPods have made for some time.)
iPhone’s headset doesn’t bring remote control to the iPod touch. You can use the “clicker” control on the iPhone’s headset to pause and play music and video on the iPhone. Regrettably, when you plug that headset into an iPod touch the clicker has no effect. Given the iPod touch’s lack of any physical volume controls, I’ve got to assume that support for a dock-connector-based wired remote, a la the iPod FM Radio Remote, must be on the horizon.
Manual management of media. Jason Snell points out in the latest Macworld Video that you can manually manage media with the iPod touch. The option for asking it to do so is found in the Summary tab of the iPod touch’s preferences. This means that, unlike with the iPhone, you can enable this option, connect the iPod touch to any computer, and drag media to it.
However, you can’t mount the iPod touch as a hard drive as you can with the iPod nano, classic, and all other previous iPods.
iTunes Wi-Fi Music Store behavior. The version of the iTunes Store on the iPod touch exhibits some behaviors that I’d not heard of.
To begin with, when you sync your iPod touch to your computer after purchasing music from the Wi-Fi Store, that music automatically downloads to your computer and is then removed from the iPod touch . If you want it back on the iPod touch, you’ll need to sync that material with the iPod. Note that this behavior prevents you from copying that purchased music to more than one computer with the iPod as the conduit.
When you download music from the iPod touch, a new Purchased on iPod touch playlist appears in iTunes’ Source list, just below the standard Purchased list. Click this entry and you’ll see all the music you’ve purchased from the Wi-Fi Store.
Secondly, if an album you purchase is bundled with a digital booklet, when you sync the iPod touch with your computer to download that music to it and next connect to the iTunes Store, the digital booklet will automatically download to iTunes. (Unfortunately, in the album we tested — Lyle Lovett’s “It’s Not Big, It’s Large” — the digital booklet PDF wouldn’t open in either Preview or Adobe Reader.)
Finally, the Wi-Fi Store is aware of your iTunes Plus preference. If you’ve configured The Store to show you iTunes Plus music by default, that’s how you’ll see it in the Wi-Fi Store as well. When I switched off the option to see iTunes Plus music within my iTunes Store account I had to restart the iPod touch and re-enter the Wi-Fi Store before that change was reflected on the iPod.
iPhone hacks don’t currently work. Among the first things I tried to do after unpacking my iPod touch was to run the AppTapp iPhone installer hack. It didn’t work. The installer ran and ran with nothing apparently happening. Against my better judgment I force quit the installer and my iPod touch would do nothing more than display its “Connect to iTunes” option. I fired up iTunes and it wouldn’t see the iPod touch.
Before panicking I plugged the iPod touch into a different Mac. That Mac recognized the iPod touch but told me that it was in recovery mode and that I needed to restore it. That I did. iTunes downloaded the iPod touch 1.0.1 software and then reformated the iPod. It worked perfectly well after that.
This one smudges. Unlike the iPhone, with its brushed metal back, the iPod touch has the traditional shiny steel back plate. And yes, it smudges and scratches just as easily as other iPods with glistening backs.
Keyboard supports international symbols. We understand that because the iPod touch can be sold in countries other than the U.S. (unlike the iPhone) the iPod touch has international keyboard capabilities. Specifically, the touch supports these keyboard layouts: QWERTY, QWERTZ, AZERTY, QZERTY, and Japanese IME. You can choose different keyboard settings in the Keyboards setting.
What’s less apparent is that you can choose non-standard characters by tapping and holding on a key in the iPod’s virtual keyboard. For example, go to the Contacts application and tap the Plus (+) button to create a new contact. Tap the Name field and press and hold the A key. You’ll find that you have nine options including Á, Â, Å, Á, Æ, plus a couple of other characters that I can’t easily create on my Mac’s keyboard.
Webmail works. I accessed both my Gmail and .Mac accounts via their respective webmail interfaces and was able to successfully send and receive email. The only glitch was attempting to send HTML-formatted email from Gmail. Safari refuses to allow you to place the cursor in the text field when HTML formatting is chosen. Switch to plain text and it works perfectly.
Slower text entry in Safari. While working in these webmail applications I noticed that the iPod touch enters text more slowly than does the iPhone. I asked Jason Snell to confirm this with his iPod touch and iPhone in case it was a personal network issue. He verified that the iPod’s keyboard is more sluggish than the iPhone’s.
iPod touch video is darker. My iPod touch’s video is noticeably darker than the video played on my iPhone. I synced Chinatown , purchased from the iTunes Store, on both devices and played the same scene on each. With brightness cranked all the way up on both devices, the iPhone (below, left) far outshone the iPod touch. Dark scenes on the iPod touch were really dark, making it a less-than-ideal vehicle for watching film noir.
( Update: Jason Snell reports that his iPod touch’s video is not only darker, but shows significant problems with “negative image” effects in especially dark video and photos. We’ve posted one sample below but more are available in this Flickr photo set.)
Video playing on an iPhone (top) and iPod touch (bottom).
No playlist grouping. The new iPod nano and iPod classic respect playlist grouping—create a folder in iTunes’ Source list, drag some playlists into that folder, and sync the iPod and the hierarchy is preserved on the iPod. That doesn’t work with the iPod touch.
I’ll be hammering on the iPod touch throughout the weekend and beyond to unearth its other secrets—many of which are likely to appear in our iPod Blog. And stay tuned for our full review of the iPod touch, coming next week.