Friday, November 6, 2009

Come On, Come On, Come On, iTouch Me, Babe!

Written 6 November, 2009

Come On, Come On, Come On, iTouch Me, Babe!

OMG! Total geek-out!

Yesterday, as I arose from my bed at the leisurely hour of ten, there was a loud knock on the door. It was the FedEx man, and he handed me a box that contained the 32GB iTouch I had ordered from the Apple Store.

Think of the iTouch as an iPhone without the phone or an iPod on steroids. It connects wirelessly to computer networks and runs thousands of apps ranging from games to restaurant locators to a virtual zippo lighter you can flick open.

The iTouch is small, but all screen, and a touch screen at that. Most operations are done by touching the screen. There's a button to turn the device on and off, volume up and volume down, and a handy button to close applications.

Thousands of apps are already available, many free, and many at a nominal cost (usually $.99 or $1.99). And no, alas, Second Life is not yet available. But iSnort is.

After I opened the box I topped off the battery, synched the iTouch with iTunes, logged it into the local wireless network (Sweetie's lair is in the same building as a computer store with a T3 connection to the Internet). I downloaded an app (GTI Racing) to make sure the iTouch worked, and put it back into its box to await Sweetie's return.

When Sweetie came through the door I waited a few minutes until she had finished her snack of truffles and caviar, then handed her the iTouch.

And there went the rest of the evening.

You see, Sweetie instantaneously and completely geeked out.

And, well, to be completely honest, so did I.

There ensued a frantic googling and downloaded of apps. Soon the iTouch was loaded with every application known to man, from a map of the New York City subway system to a great Electronic Arts game called Spore Origins. I had apps for:

Tuning my guitar
Reading electronic books
Looking at FLICKR photos
Finding AAA discounts
Converting measurements
Recording or writing notes to myself
Playing mahjong, pool, sudoku, and roulette
Making any of 68,000 mixed drinks
Listening to AOL radio or Car Talk
Reading the news as NPR and Huffington Post
Finding Wi-Fi spots around the world
Tuning into any webcam on the internet
Finding movies
Identifying birds
Using eBay
Looking at any spot on Earth with Google Earth or regular old-fashioned maps
Touring the Louvre
Making an alarm clock
Generating white noise to go to sleep by
Finding the current weather and forecast at any place on the planet

and yes, even flicking open that virtual Zippo!

I also had an assortment of games, including the aforementioned Spore.

Now I need to use the supplied USB connection to add my music and videos to the iTouch!

The combination of the touch screen and the built-in accelerometer makes for easy and fun control. With racing games you can turn the iTouch on its side, holding it by both ends and turning it just like a steering wheel. You can grab your one-celled organism in Spore and stretch or shrink it by scissoring your fingers. And you can turn pages by flicking a finger. And shake the iTouch to select a song at random. Way cool!

The best app I've seen so far is a virtual level. It not only contains a level; it will tell you exactly how much you're off plumb.

The iTouch isn't quite as handy as the iPhone because some features won't work unless you're somewhere you can hook up with a wireless server (and even then the iPhone's GPS features won't work), but it's a ton of fun-- so much so that Sweetie went to bed after midnight.

Spies-- I mean, special agents-- need a lot of sleep.

She wouldn't have gotten any sleep at all if she had seen the Escape from Castle Wolfenstein 3D app.

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