I decided to cough up yet another $10 to update the firmware of my iPod Touch to 3.0. This trend of Apple charging money for firmware updates for the iPod Touch is truly annoying. I mean come on, they are going to sell Snow Leopard, an OS upgrade, for only $29, yet $10 for a firmware update for an iPod? I have yet to see other companies charging money for firmware updates. Even Sony gives free firmware updates for the PSP and PS3.
Anyway, aside form the rant, here are a quick impression of the 3.0 firmware installed on a 2G Touch.
-The download size of the firmware is a hefty 257.8MB.
-Installing and upgrading the firmware on my 2G Touch went without any issues. It seems pretty quick too, quicker than I expected.
-Couple new options in iTunes for the Touch. First is the option to encrypt the backup (iTunes will ask for a password). 2nd is the option to sync notes (not sure if this had existed before or not).
Now on the 2G iPod Touch itself:
-A lot of the features have been previewed twice by Apple, on the sneak peek in March, and on WWDC 09.
-Calculator seems to load faster
-There’s an option to turn on Bluetooth in the Settings. Yup, Bluetooth on the 2G Touch is unlocked with the 3.0 firmware. Have not played with it though.
-Shake to shuffle. It is a gimmick on the 4G nano, and imo still a gimmick.
-In Settings, there’s an option to manage your iTunes account.
-Autofill for Safari. Could be a security/privacy concern for some. I leave it off.
-Spotlight search: Quite amazing. You can set on what it will search in Settings. You can set to invoke Spotlight with double click of the Home button.
-Speaking of search, almost all of the built-in app like Music, Video, Contacts, Mail, etc have Search on the top if you scroll up through the top of the list.
-Voice Memos. Voice recording, obviously the 2G Touch would need an external mic as it doesn’t have a built-in one. I use the Apple in-ear bud with mic, and it works fine. You can also trim the recording afterwards. Other than that, pretty basic. I expect more 3rd parties will make good external mics for the Touch/iPhone.
-Maps have some GUI changes. Nothing significant, but seems a bit prettier with some new dots and icons.
-Now you can log-in to your Youtube/google account in the Youtube app. The app will list your fav videos, and you can rate & put comments on videos.
-Stocks got quite a bit of facelift. It will show a larger graph on landscape. It also list some news related to the particular stock.
-Copy-n-Paste. Well, it works, across apps too (tried copy-n-pasting from Safari to Notes). The Shake to undo is pretty neat. A lot of people are making fun of Apple’s cut-n-paste, yet I don’t really see a lot of devices implement copy-n-paste across apps nor undo.
-When you invoke the iPod controls on the stand-by screen, it will show the track title, album, and artist.
-Chinese character input. Now you can use your finger to write down a Chinese character. Not that great though as a finger is not as thin as a stylus. The iPod will try to guess what you’re writing, and it seems to work okay. I don’t think it will be efficient though compared to stylus-based input.
-Now you can pay audio podcasts at double the speed or half the speed. Useful for lectures I guess.
-Still no shuffle-by-album feature. 😡 Lame, just lame, considering this feature have existed on the regular iPods and nanos forever, and the fact that Apple is touting the iPhone/Touch as “the best iPod.”
-Movies are now available on the iTunes store. Dunno how useful this will be though as it would take forever downloading movies on the device, even via wifi. Then there’s the capacity issue.
-TONS of language options and keyboards. This is quite amazing actually. I have not seen an electronic device being localized extensively into so many languages in 1 firmware.
In the end, is it worth $10 for 2G Touch users? I’m afraid I have to say yes, as the 3.0 firmware will unlock Bluetooth on the 2G Touch. 1G Touch, however, don’t have Bluetooth nor mic support for voice recording, so the value of the 3.0 firmware is not that great. Thing is, sooner or later I can see that most apps in the app store would require the 3.0 firmware.
I still think for Apple charging money for firmware updates is lame. You don’t see this behavior with any other companies. The lack of shuffle-by-album feature is also super lame, considering this is a standard feature on regular iPods. Some of the features like cut-n-paste are way overdue. The 3.0 firmware is the natural progression of the iPhone/Touch platform. While companies like Sony are still confused on what they’re selling, Apple is definitely turning into the definitive portable media player maker. With the iPhone 3GS getting better camera and video recording, we’ll see if those feature will trickle down to the iPod Touch.
I will post more impression on the Bluetooth feature later.