22 January 2008


When Apple started selling the package of apps for the iPod touch, my rationalization was that, "Hey, I got the thing for Christmas, it is OK to spend some of my own money for it." I regret I bought it. It was one of the few time I bought something impulsively instead of waiting for reviews.

I was itching for a note-taking app so I jumped at the chance when the January Software Package was offered. Nice-looking as it is, Notes is a disappointment. Since I plan to replace my aging Visor Deluxe with the touch, I inevitably compare the apps on the touch to that found in the Visor. For starter, the lowly 8-MB Visor comes with the Memo List, free of charge. You write memos on the thing and next time the device syncs, you have a copy on the computer. From there you can highlight the text and copy it to elsewhere. I've written a few blog entries or ATPM software reviews in that fashion. The same cannot be done with the touch's current Notes app. No syncing of any kinds happens as far as Notes is concerned. The only way to get the text out of Notes is to send the whole thing as an email. It is a very incomplete "solution", if it can even be considered as such.

Mail is a decent email client, although I was already accessing my Gmail through the mobile Safari. Of course, writing and reading email via Mail instead of the web browser is a better experience. Yet I cannot shake it that I paid $20 for the package. Not taking the feeble Notes, I did not get something that I could not do before. It is nice that Mail can also pull my .Mac email and Yahoo!Mail but I don't use those two much nowadays. Yahoo!Mail account gets mostly spam and there are thousands of messages in the Inbox. Thanks to the Mail-enabled touch, I now can clean up those spam messages, if I ever in the mood to.

I don't play the stock market, don't need to know too much about the weather, and find the map program a bit weak, so the rest of the January Package is not that appealing either. If Apple had to charge for the package because of accounting practices, I think $5 or $10 would be more reasonable. Instead, the iPod company prefer to fleece their loyal customers for twenty bucks.

I am curious if there will be quarterly, or more frequent, software packages for the iPhone and the iPod touch. Here's my wish list for improvements:

  • A device-wide search function. Regardless whether it is an entry in Notes, Calendar, or Mail, etc. if I search with a keyword, all those apps' data should be looked into. The Visor has that years ago.
  • A simple To-Do List that I can look in one screen and filter based on completion status, dates, etc. Again, it's something that the old Palm OS app has.
  • A way to highlight text for copying and pasting. Data entry in any device should be kept to a minimum. Copying and pasting is a very basic computing requirement, how the iPhone platform cannot handle is perplexing.
  • All these upgrades should be free!

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