I recently plugged my iPod Touch into my computer and synced up some new guilty pleasures (Lady GaGa and the Confessions of a Shopaholic OST). Then it came to my attention that there was a new update for the iPod Touch. There was a software update to bring the iPod Touch up to version 3.0. And guess what? It costs a measly $9.95! This is when I dug a little into the details of the update and ultimately ended up feeling cheated and deceived by Apple. My next MP3 player may not necessarily be an iPod.
Apple iPod Touch 3.0 Software Update – [PDF]
I balked at the prospect that I would have to pay for a software update. Now, I’m all for supporting devices and software developers and all. That’s why I took a look at all the new features that should entice people to cough up ten bucks.
1) Buy Movies, TV Shows, and Audiobooks via Wi-Fi: Download movies, TV shows, music videos, and audiobooks over Wi-Fi from the iTunes Store on iPod touch.
Hmm…so it sounds to me like I’m paying $10 to help Apple earn more money. Sure, why not? I am going to plunk down ten dollars so that Apple can take even more of my money. How does this make any sense at all? If Apple had any business saavy, they would allow Wi-Fi purchases without charging customers for an update. This is why Amazon is so successful: they make it easy for you to purchase things from them. In your browser, you can have 1-Click ordering. On the Kindle, you have free wireless delivery of the Kindle books you purchase, delivered within one minute. So if Apple wants me to buy more movies, TV shows, and other media from them, why the hell should I pay them for that? What, is it such a privilege to have easy access to Apple’s digital wares?
2) Stereo Bluetooth: Enjoy music and other audio wirelessly. Pair your iPod touch with compatible Bluetooth stereo headphones.
Do you mean to tell me that my iPod Touch already has Bluetooth in there? There’s just something that feels sort of grimey about this. Having Bluetooth built into the iPod Touch and simply not activating the functionality is deceptive. Then, there is the cost of Bluetooth. I don’t know how much it costs, but surely Apple passes along such costs to the consumer: as far as I know, the use of Bluetooth requires licensing fees. And then of course there are the actual hardware costs. If I never intended to use Bluetooth, then I don’t see what business they have adding in this hardware that I will never use, and thusly increasing the price of the device. Also, if I’m buying a device, I’d rather not be lied to about what’s inside and what it’s capable of.
3) Landscape Keyboard: Want more room to type? Rotate iPod touch to landscape to use a larger keyboard in Mail, Notes, and Safari.
Is this really a feature? This should’ve been on the device from the get go. I don’t understand why they would be inconsistent with their interface. Turning the device to landscape orientation flips the images and webpages. Therefore it would make sense that the keyboard goes along for the ride. That this was omitted in the first place was a terrible oversight. To charge people for this missing feature? Go screw yourself.
4) Spotlight Search: Find what you’re looking for across your iPod touch, all from one place. Spotlight searches all your contacts, email, calendars, and notes, as well as all your music and video.
This one is pretty legitimate. After all, the device was originally just an iPod, namely a music playing device, not a PIM.
5) Cut, Copy & Paste: Quickly and easily cut, copy, and paste text from application to application. Select blocks of web text with a tap. Copy and paste images from the web, too.
Oh my! What a revolutionary idea! Cutting, copying, and pasting text has been around for ages. It’s been implemented in numerous devices (on the BlackBerry, and if memory serves me correctly, on Windows Mobile and even Palm devices back in the day). Why Apple feels they have the right to charge people for such a basic and fundamental function is beyond me.
Read on for the other so-called features App le is charging you for.
6) Parental Controls: Decide what music, videos, and apps your kids can access on iPod touch.
So now good parents have to shell out ten bucks just to make sure their kids can’t load up their device with porn clips and listen to that no-good 50 Cent talking about shooting cops and punching bitches? In the interest of good family values, Apple should’ve already implemented this. I suppose one could argue that parental control software isn’t free either, but if I’m right, Apple was already rating material as explicit where appropriate. It’s not that complicated to implement parental control then, as opposed to those applications trying to police the internet, where there is no universal rating of websites.
7) Automatic Wi-Fi Login: Log in to a Wi-Fi hotspot and iPod touch remembers your user name and password the next time you connect.
…do I really have to explain? This is, again, a very basic function. Why do I have to pay for this?
8) iTunes Store Account Creation: Create one or more iTunes Store accounts directly from your iPod touch.
Yet another one of those things that should’ve already been on the iPod Touch simply for ease of use for the end user. The ability to create an iTunes Store Account without the use of a computer makes it that much more accessible, leading to more sales. Just like the ability to use Wi-Fi to buy stuff from the iTunes Store, this should not be something I’m paying for.
9) New Languages: Enjoy support for up to 34 languages and more than 40 keyboard layouts.
Okay, this one I’m ignorant about. But to me, this sounds like anybody who doesn’t speak English got screwed. Having more languages available expands your base of potential users. If there was anyone who felt that the lack of support for their native language was holding them back from getting an iPod Touch, I doubt that making them pay an extra $10 will win them over.
10) Third-party Game Accessories: Connect fun new game accessories via the iPod touch 30-pin connector and Bluetooth.
Now here’s the thing…if Apple controls who can make accessories for their devices (sort of like the ‘Made for iPod’ program), they’re basically making people pay $10 to pay for more Apple accessories, meaning more money in Apple’s pockets. But who knows, I could be wrong. I’m no business major.
11) Shake to Shuffle: Just give your iPod touch a shake and it shuffles to a different song in your music library. You’ll always be surprised by what you’ll hear.
Really? Why am I paying for the use of an incredibly basic gesture? Maybe if there was some kind of ‘next/previous track’ gesture as well.
There are a total of 15 features that Apple lists on it’s update page. I have a bone to pick with 10 of them. I have no reason to update my iPod Touch to 3.0: none of the features are compelling enough to me, even if I weren’t nitpicking. But it’s just disheartening to see Apple tout so many of these features as, well, features. They’re not worth $10. They just aren’t. And it’s not that $10 is a lot of money: I blow hundreds of dollars easily.
I guess if you really like to game on your iPod Touch it could be a worthwhile investment. Or if you really fancy wireless Bluetooth headphones (I’m too much of an audiophile for that). Well….now that I think about it, I might want to see if I can find a waterproof Bluetooth speaker… But anyway, I find that this update really has only two features: activation of Bluetooth, and the gaming potential. But here’s the thing: I’ve gamed on the iPod Touch before, and the battery drains rapidly enough where I have to worry about its lifespan. So I don’t know if it’s the best platform for any amount of serious gaming.
Anyway, I may end up purchasing this update if I figure out that the Bluetooth functionality is worth it. But it certainly leaves a bitterness in my mouth that won’t be easily forgotten.
P.S. I’m not a fanboy of anything (I’m an aetheist).