iPhone OS 3.0: Hands on with the original iPod touch [u]

June 18, 2009

Is Apple’s über update worth $10 for a user of an original touch? That of course depends on what you use the device for and what you’re hoping to gain.

Yesterday’s OS 3.0 upgrade wasn’t cheap—ten bucks is a bunch of lunch for a work at home dad—and took a surprisingly long time to get done. Yes, it weighed 230MB and, yes, there’s no doubt that Apple’s servers were busier than busy, but was it worth it?

For me, the answer is yes and here’s why, plus a few of things I’ve found disappointing:

1.) Portrait view typing is a huge advance as it allows me to hunt and peck, which can be surprisingly fast, with my largish hands.
— This is particularly important in Mail, which was meant for portrait view, and Notes, which I use for shopping lists and, well, taking notes

2.) Cut-copy-paste functionality is really smooth and makes it possible to get a lot more out of my first generation touch, which is my constant companion and personal digital assistant (PDA)
— Is this feature enough to make mobile blogging worthwhile? Perhaps in a pinch, but layout and image editing are always going to be issues.

3.) My 1G touch generally is more responsive, especially Safari and Mail. However, some of the promised speed ups didn’t happen, like Sim City, which iPhone VP Forstall said would open 2.5X faster-not seeing it.

4.) iTunes “shake to shuffle” really rocks as it makes crappy songs go away—just. like. that.

5.) Some other niceties include YouTube account and auto Wi-Fi login, as well as the improved Calendar and Stocks App

See also: Apple’s iPhone OS 3.0 How to pages

One particularly disappointing aspect of iPhone OS 3.0 is I’m not seeing universal search functionality, which should be there when my touch is connected to a Wi-Fi network or tethered. Sadly, although it’s good to have access to search in the various apps, it’s neither reasonable nor fair that my 1G touch can’t search everywhere (ie Mac, PC, MobileMe), which is an advertised feature on iPhone OS 3.0.

Also, iCab Mobile 1.5 ($1.99) is still faster than Safari even after the update, but there’s still not way to choose it as my default browser. It’s all well and fine that Mobile Safari lags, though it shouldn’t make much if any difference to the OS or Apple which WebKit-based I want to use—come on, guys, add a preference for this.

[u] TUAW reports that Find My iPod touch works just fine on first and second generation models, with the main caveat being that the 1G touch doesn’t have a speaker so there’s no way to “ping” the device and reveal its locations (unless it’s plugged into speakers). Also, Google Maps Street View works on first and second generation touches, as well. [u]

Conclusion

If your family’s iPod touch is just for the kids or only used as a mobile media player, you might want to keep that tenner in your pocket and save it to buy a new touch, or even lunch at Olive Garden. However, if you use your touch as a PDA and take it everywhere, the $10 iPhone OS 3.0 is worthwhile investment.

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