iPod touch and Applications (2)

By Graham K. Rogers


home screen A friend arrived with a new 16G iPod touch and an HP computer running XP. He asked me to help make it work. First thing, of course, is to have music in the Library. Once that hurdle was crossed we installed the recent 2.0 update on the iPod and he downloaded a couple of the free apps.

Setting up playlists in iTunes and transferring his music collection, I was surprised to see that on the iPod, as well as on the computer, the information was displayed in Thai. As a test, I put a tune by a Thai artist into iTunes on my Mac. The data there was in Thai and when synchronised, the Thai characters displayed on my iPod touch as well.

I then checked Address Book and iCal. I added data to both using Thai characters. These were added to the Mobile Me information and to the iPod retaining the Thai script. As a Thai keyboard is not installed on the iPod touch, we may enter data on the computer then read on the iPod touch, but we cannot enter data in Thai on the touch. This is a welcome halfway step and will help some local users.

downloads Now that those of us in Thailand are able to access the App Store, I have been indulging myself, although trying to be as economical as I can. All of the apps are new, but some updates have arrived. In iTunes, a small number (depending on the number to be updated) appears beside the Applications icon. There is a also a direct link via the iPod touch.

I had settled down to play a video podcast. On the home screen I saw that, as well as a red number over the Mail icon, there was a similar number over the App Store icon. Any updates to apps downloaded are shown. I clicked on "Update" and let it do its stuff.

As an English Literature graduate, I was intrigued to see that the complete works of Shakespeare was available as one of the free apps in the App Store. How could I resist? The 2.9MB download was installed easily and allowed me access to an index of the plays and the Sonnets. Included also were Edward III and Sir Thomas More.

Clicking one of the titles displayed the Dramatis Personae and the five acts (Sonnets were in groups of ten). The next level produced the text. Viewed horizontally, the text was easy to read. With the vertical screen, there were buttons for enlarging the text or making it smaller. There was no search facility.

WS Soduku Crossword

These days I have two tasks on Sunday mornings. One is to write this article. The other, which precedes it, is to try to complete the crossword which comes from the New York Times. "2 Across" is a useful companion for anyone who likes crosswords, and is an inexpensive $5.99 (200 baht).

What is especially nice about this is that it allows us to download crosswords from several sources (NYTimes Classic, Houston Chronicle, The Onion) as well as those users subscribe to. We can try and solve a puzzle in one go, or return later. Once complete, the crossword can be deleted. We can download more when online and work offline.

I also enjoy the daily Sodoku in the Bangkok Post and there are some 30 examples of Sodoku apps available in the App Store, ranging from free to $4.99 (168 baht). I tried one called, simply, "Sodoku Free". Because it was. There is an upgrade available to a paid version of the same application.

This has a number of difficulty levels and a user is able to choose colour schemes. The disadvantage here is that there is a limited number of puzzles, hence the upgrade. Sodoku downloads, from some other developers have self-generated puzzles, so the user never runs out.

A number of apps take advantage of the accelerometers in the iPhone or iPod touch, such as iMaze. Here we tilt the device to guide a ball through a maze. There are also the infuriating games, Cube Runner and Lander. The first requires us to steer through a series of obstacles, while the latter needs some deftness to bring a helicopter down. Both require some skilful tilting of the device to steer and, with Lander also to control speed. These three games are all free.

Maze Apache Tilt

Another app to use the accelerometers is Color Tilt. As one changes the aspect of the device, so the screen colour is altered and we can draw lines with the fingers in the current colour. Change the screen and the coloured lines remain, thus (with some skill) it is possible to draw an image.

There are now well over 1,000 apps available for users. What we see so far suggests that these apps will make such devices far more useful and add considerable enjoyment.

Return to Part One

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