When writing about the multimedia capabilities of the iPhone, I called it “the iPod that’s really a phone”. You could say that the iPod touch is the iPhone that’s really an iPod. After all, the touchscreen iPod shares much of the interface and design of the iPhone.
Like the iPhone. Just how similar is the iPod touch to the iPhone? At first glance it could be mistaken for Apple’s phone. Closer inspection reveals that it lacks the small slit at the top of the device where iPhone users place their ear for listening to phone calls. The sides are black rather than brushed aluminium, there are no physical volume buttons, and the top lacks a headphone port. (That port is on the bottom of the iPod touch.) Naturally, there’s also no SIM slot, though the iPod touch includes an On/Off button.
Flip the iPod over and you see no camera like you would on the iPhone but the upper-left corner is black, hinting at the Wi-Fi circuitry inside. The bottom of the device sports the traditional 30-pin dock connector port and, as I mentioned, the headphone port, which, thankfully unlike the iPhone’s same-named port, is not recessed. There’s no speaker or microphone on the iPod touch.
In terms of the iPhone’s iPod functionality, the iPod touch is identical. Tap Music and you’ll see the same options as you do on an iPhone — with Playlists, Artists, Songs, Videos, and More buttons at the bottom of the screen. As with the iPhone, turn the iPod touch on its side and you can browse your music in Cover Flow view by flicking your finger to move through your collection of albums. Tap an album cover and the cover flips around to reveal the contents of the album.
Video playback works much the same way as on an iPhone, but Apple has included a couple of Settings options not currently found on the iPhone. Go to the iPod touch’s Settings application, tap video, and you’ll see Start Playing (you choose between starting from the beginning or resuming from where the video was last played on the iPod or within iTunes) and Closed Captioning (On/Off) options and Widescreen and TV Signal TV Out options. (Widescreen is an On/Off toggle and TV Signal lets you select NTSC or PAL.)
You use Start Playing to set whether to start at the beginning of a video or resuming from where it left off.
The iPod touch also carries many of the same applications as the iPhone. You’ll find Safari, YouTube, Calendar, Clock, and Calculator. Each of these works just as it does on the iPhone, with the exception that any connection to a phone or e-mail application has been severed. For example, if you go into a contact’s Info screen, you can look at that contact’s phone number or e-mail address but, unlike with the
iPhone, tapping these bits of text won’t initiate a phone call or create an e-mail.
With the iPhone touch, Apple has created a separate Contacts application rather than placing it inside the (in this case, non-existent) Phone area. Tap Contacts, and it, too, works just as it does on the iPhone. Here you can add and edit contact information as well as assign photos you’ve stored on the iPod to a contact.
Unlike an iPhone. The iPod touch lacks all of the iPhone’s communication features so you won’t find the Phone, Text, Stocks, Maps, and Weather applications.
Because Safari is included, communication isn’t completely out. For example, through Safari, you’ll be able to operate webmail and, I assume, use web-based instant messaging clients that have been developed for the iPhone.
The iPod touch includes the same Apple earbuds as Apple’s other iPods. Some were hoping that it would include some kind of remote control, as the iPhone’s headset does. Regrettably, it appears that you can operate an undocked iPod touch only by tapping and flicking its screen.
The Camera application is missing because the iPod touch lacks a camera. And, inexplicably, there’s no Notes application, even though other display-bearing iPods support syncing notes to the iPod and the iPod touch includes a keyboard that you could use to compose notes.
Within a Keyboard Setting, you’ll find an International Keyboards button that allows you to select a keyboard layout for the country in which you reside. In this same Keyboard Setting you find a new shortcut option that I hope to see on the iPhone.
Instead of having to switch to the numeric keyboard to insert a full stop, you can now simply double-tap the keyboard’s space bar to insert the period and a following space.
And more? Assuming that it’s running OS X as is the iPhone, will it be as hackable as the iPhone — will you, for example, be able to install an e-mail client on it or copy the iPhone’s Notes, Maps, Weather, and Stock applications to it? We’ll know this, and more, when we have one in our hands for good.