Some of you may know from reading this blog that I’ve owned a second generation iPod Touch for the past two years.
Missing the updates to the gadget like the built-in camera, retina display, and notifications center was a painful trial of attrition.
It was the classic tale of what it feels like to own an Apple product.
Thus, when Black Friday arrived this year and news broke out that Apple was discounting their iPod Touch from $20-40, I pounced on the opportunity and made the upgrade.
Here are some thoughts and observations so far.
I’ve had the chance to lay my eyes on the pristine clarity that retina display brought in the latest iPhone and iPod Touch’s. The display was gorgeous, immaculate, and so finely detailed. And now, I could finally appreciate it for myself.
Once you’ve had retina display, it really is impossible to go back to anything less. When I came home from Christmas break, my dad asked me to fix something on the old iPod Touch I had handed down to him. Immediately upon unlocking the device, the display looked tarnished and unrecognizable. Not because my dad had proceeded to download every imaginable app to the device and tweak every known setting, but because the display just looked so…pedestrian.
Sync in the background
I don’t know what version of iOS Apple introduced this new feature but it is definitely a welcome improvement. Previously, you weren’t able to use your device while it was syncing lest you want to stop the process altogether. Now, software can be updated in the background and data can be backed up, without interfering with your ability to use the device. Sure, syncing can bog down the performance of your iDevice, but it’s nice to no longer have to wait unimaginable periods of time before your sync completes.
One of my biggest motivations for making the upgrade was the growing number of apps I came across that wasn’t compatible with my device because of performance, software, or hardware limitations. I first noticed this trend when I tried playing new games that came out. The graphics would lag unbearably, launching the game would take forever, or the game would crash repeatedly. Even updates to games that performed reasonably well before soon became unusable on my device (I’m looking at you Angry Birds).
In this dire moment, I found hope in the A4 chip that offered enhanced processor speeds and graphics performance. Packaged in the first iPad and iPhone 4, the A4 chip has since been succeeded by the A5 chip in the iPhone 4S. Despite that, the performance improvements offered by the new processor could not be ignored.
Multitasking is also a nice addition. One of the tasks I often face is needing to switch to 1Password Pro in order to sign into an account. I admit, it’s not a seamless process having to constantly switch back and forth copying passwords just to sign in. But, it works better with multitasking allowing you to quickly jump right back into other apps you had opened with minimal wait time.
On a side note, it would be awesome if more apps would incorporate “single sign-on” Twitter integration. Apps like Tweetbot have done it, allowing users to bypass the necessity of re-authenticating their Twitter account if they already have already done so inside the iOS Settings app.
Shortcuts/Built-in Text Expansion
This is a pretty neat addition to iOS. I often find myself typing out my email address to login to an account on my iPod Touch. To save some keystrokes, iOS now lets you create “shortcuts”, which are text-expansion triggers for commonly-typed phrases. So, “omw” will automatically be replaced by “on my way” or “eml” can be replaced with your primary email address.
In order to access and create new shortcuts, open up your Settings app. Then, navigate to General > Keyboard. At the bottom, you will find some sample shortcuts already included and the option to create your own custom shortcuts. I currently use “eml” for my email address, “phn” for my phone number and “brb” for “be right back.”
The Small Things
It’s rarely the most prominent features that I find myself fawning over. Retina display is cool and looks gorgeous. But the true diamonds in the rough can be found when you least expect it. For example, when composing an email with an attachment, iOS prompts you with the following if your attachment is of an unwieldy size:
Works in Progress
The lackluster notifications system has long been a complaint amongst many until Apple introduced Notifications Center starting with iOS 5. With a simple swipe of a finger, you can quickly get an at-a-glance view of upcoming events from your Calendar, view mentions from Twitter, and messages from friends.
My only minor gripe is getting Twitter notifications to work correctly. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but notifications from mentions are often delayed. In some cases, it doesn’t show up at all. I use Tweetbot as my Twitter client, and I’ve never received any notification from the app. It only gets delivered to the official Twitter app, which recently underwent its 4.0 update. In the meantime, I have demoted Tweetbot from my coveted dock, replacing it with the Twitter for iPhone app.
For years, I’ve scoffed at the idea that I would ever have any interest in photography, let alone document every mundane facet of my life through the use of a camera. Immediately upon unboxing my new iPod Touch, I went straightaway to the Camera app (after syncing had finished, etc). Maybe it was the thrill of new hardware missing in my previous device or, the newly heightened sense of undeserved adoration I had for capturing every moment around me.
And then, there was Instagram.
Instagram has been one of the biggest hits ever on the iPhone, recently announcing that it had eclipsed 15 million users). Apple itself has inducted the app into its “Hall of Fame” and recently named it the iPhone app of the year. The app does nothing revolutionary (take some photos, give it a retro-style effect, and share it with your friends), and its remarkable success makes it such a compelling development to follow. You would think a deluge of competitors by now would’ve swamped the market with identical apps(see: social newsreading apps), but yet, Instagram remains the undisputed champion. Just wait until it releases its Android app. By that point, it would’ve taken over the entire universe.
Back to me(very compelling) and my obnoxious love story with Instagram (Shameless plug: Follow me on Instagram! @tonyhue). One of the reasons why I love Instagram so much is because it makes my life ten times more interesting than drab and boring.
Here is a plain-looking picture of a milk carton:
Selects random filter option, and bam!
That milk carton is suddenly more entertaining than listening to Rick Perry listing things.
The thing I’m not fond about the camera though is its reportedly paltry-low 0.7 megapixel resolution. This doesn’t even best the first generation iPhone’s 2 MP camera!
Yes, I am a whiner and don’t know squat about digital photography but reading about the iPhone 4S’s mind-boggling 8 MP camera, I am envious for more. In the meantime, since I do not currently make a living as a professional photographer, I will remain content with what I have: Kelvin-filtered shots of milk cartons.
I love my fourth-generation iPod Touch so far. I carry it in my pocket wherever I go for that moment when my camera whore demon inside me compels me to snap a photo of something that I pray will garner me likes and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram (Why won’t anyone like this photo?! WHY? AM I JUST NOT COOL ENOUGH??? Answer: Yes.).
Nevertheless, the upgrade has been worth every penny. It’s not the iPhone or the iPad, but who says I’ve been complaining?
Image credit: iLounge