Monday, June 14, 2010

Some initial thoughts on the iPod Touch

Oi...February? Really? That was my last post? How sad. Well, I just got back from an amazing vacation in the Dominican Republic, and I've started up a more professional blog (Pec's Games), plus we've finished CellCraft (awaiting sponsorship terms before release) and I'm looking at a new, unannounced game project. So, lots going on.

Oh, I also got an iPod Touch in March, and wanted to do a little ranting and raving.

First off, this is a slick piece of hardware. It runs very smoothly, the touch screen is beautiful and responsive, and in terms of a portable media device it works absolutely fantastically. The games are surprisingly good (I'm rarely picking up my DS these days) and have nailed a pricing scheme that has caused me to spend more on games than I had originally intended. Had all games been in the $5 - $10 range, I probably would have bought 1 or 2. But at $1 - $2 (with tons of free ones if you're diligent), well, let's just say I think I have a problem.

Which brings me to...

Rant number one: Limits to pages of apps. Why do we need an arbitrary maximum, especially one as small as 11 pages (meaning only 176 apps, including the default ones, plus 4 at the bottom for 180 total)? I hit this maximum within a few weeks of owning the iPod. I suppose some readers will point out that this isn't really reasonable, and that I clearly have a problem if I hit 11 pages that quickly. To be fair, they weren't full - I was using pages to sort types of apps and genres of games. Which leads into...

Rant number two: Lack of ability to organize apps on the iPod. Even with the limit of 180 apps, you have no way to categorize, label, or do any legitimate sorting of apps. I attempted to use the pages as a sort method, but this cut down on the number of apps I could use. Admittedly, this will be somewhat fixed with the next version of iOS, which will allow you to put apps, up to 16 at a time, into folders. This will certainly help, and will drastically increase the maximum number of apps to over 2000, but would it really kill them to just add a vertical scroll to pages so we're not constrained to 16 each?

Rant number three: Lack of ability to organize apps in iTunes. As much as rant number two annoys me, this one really kills me. I don't have much of a problem trading apps in and out of my active rotation on my device, as long as I have a good way to track which games I want to put back in. But no - iTunes somehow gives you even fewer sorting options than the iPod itself. In fact, all you can do is change the sort order of the giant list, or search by name. No categories, folders, labels...nothing. I can (somewhat) understand limited options on the device, but in iTunes, a full-fledged OSX app with all the bells and whistles? It's just ridiculous.

Rant number four: The iTunes store is just plain stupid. I can't help but feel that no one at Apple has ever made a purchase from in their life. Because surely if they had, they would understand the benefits of labels, recommendations, flexible searches, and, above everything else, user scores. Yes yes, they have user scores, but they're hidden, especially in the iTunes version of the store. For reasons beyond my understanding, you can't view any user scores when browsing the app store in iTunes (but even more inexplicably you can when browsing with the iPod app store). The "most popular" lists are useless, and there's no way to sort by highest user rating (which is the single most common sort I use when shopping online for things). It is embarrassingly bad design and functionality from a company who prides itself on those two things above everything else.

My best guess is that the app store popularity took Apple entirely by surprise. It seems like many of their tools were written expecting to have maybe 1000 apps available. Instead, we have many times more than that and tools that seem entirely incapable of helping the user sift through the crap to find the gems. I have to rely on external game review sites (of which there are surprisingly few decent ones - SlideToPlay being the only one I really use much thanks to their excellent genre sort/filter options). But this would only explain an initial oversight - why updates haven't been made since then I don't know. Perhaps they can't climb over the mountains of money in their offices to get to the keyboard to make some changes.

In any case, I do love my iPod Touch - it is an amazing device with a fantastic collection of software. I just wish they could make a few simple, and entirely reasonable, adjustments to really make the experience much better.


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  2. A few people still favor resistive touchscreens and now and again they are

  3. This will certainly help, and will drastically increase the maximum number of apps to over 2000, but would it really kill them to just add a vertical scroll to pages so we're not constrained to 16 each.