It’s been a while since I last commented on the iPhone 3GS. So long that I actually no longer have the 3GS.

Due to an unfortunate circumstance involving my cat, my old faithful iPod video, and insufficient cleanup work I found myself needing a new iPod. I thought about the direct replacement, the iPod classic, but then the shiny new iPod touch 4G caught my attention. Since 64GB is enough to hold my entire library (with about 30GB left for the future) it seemed just about perfect. I recycled the 3GS via CraigsList, added a bit too much extra, and presto it morphed into a great new iPod Touch 4.

Read on for more ramblings about the iPod Touch 4…

The main reason I purchased the 3GS was to run PocketPacket, an iOS APRS client. It worked wonderfully well for the marathon and I hope to use it again for future events. I did however find that I didn’t really need the GPS since I wasn’t beaconing my location so I didn’t feel any loss giving that up. Even without a GPS the iPod touch 4 has an impressive ability to locate itself via geolocation, presumably using matrices of WiFi SSIDs. The retina display on the iPod4 more than made up for the loss of the GPS.

After finding a few more great Amateur Radio apps and some really useful PDA type software (database, checkbook, tasks, etc) I’m pretty solidly re-entrenched in the 2 device model. A phone that’s first and foremost a decent phone (laugh, but it’s hard to find in modern smart phones), and a PDA that’s everything else.

After working with iOS for several months, I still firmly believe Apple has ruined the market for robust high quality apps.  There are some for the platform, but there aren’t enough to really have competition among them. Most iOS apps are focused on user interface (which I appreciate) and a 99 cent price point (which as a user I appreciate but as an ex-developer I abhor) at the expense of usefulness and support. I am still convinced this is due to the pricing model. A developer has no choice but to put out a flood of apps and pray that 1 strikes home to actually make money. You can’t afford to code a complex application because the time to create and subsequent user support would kill you even if you ended up selling 1,000,000 copies at $0.99.

There are drawbacks and advantages to having 2 devices. The biggest drawback is my iPod Touch doesn’t always have Internet access. Careful attention must be paid to select apps that don’t expect that you’re connected to the cloud constantly in order to be useful. This wasn’t a very big deal for me since I was already doing this for 2 other reasons. 1: I don’t like/trust the cloud. 2: It turns out I’m in a WiFi covered area a LOT of the time.

A great advantage to having 2 devices is having 2 separate batteries. Those marathon sessions of Angry Birds while you’re waiting for your car repair will no longer leave you unable to call anyone until you can run to the next charging cable.

File sharing and media organization is a bit of a problem with the iPod touch. Applications on the device are incredibly isolated from each other so there is very little interaction possible between applications. Sure, Apple has made sure that applications can get access to items like your contacts and location (only with your explicit permission, thank you Apple) but beyond that there is very little data that can be passed around. For instance, I can’t use VLC to view videos that are stored in iTunes. In my particular circumstance this not a problem as I don’t WANT iTunes to manage my video collection, but it’s a good example of the sandboxing that Apple has imposed. I think overall this is a good thing for security, even if it is slightly annoying. It forces you to realize that you can only have 1 app to deal with a specific data set, you can’t have 2-3 sharing the same data to accomplish slightly different tasks. Also, I can’t “point” iTunes at my library of reference PDFs, I have to actually import them into iTunes creating duplicates on my network. It would be nice for iTunes to realize that it’s not going to be the center of my entire electronic universe and fall in line with the role I have given it.

The iPod touch’s ability to render native PDF documents via iBooks is nothing short of stunning. I’ve been searching for a hand held device that could do a decent job at this for over 10 years. This is the first one I’ve found. The combination of the retina display and the beefy processor allows it to zip through the most brutal PDFs; 300MB files of scanned pages are met with only a slight delay as each page renders. I can’t imagine reading for pleasure on the iPod touch due to the screen type but for reference material it’s absolutely awesome.

As far as gaming goes, I’m just going to say that the games for the iOS tend to be the type I like in a handheld, basic concept games that you can easily pick up and put down. Yes, I love a good FPS and a enveloping storyline in a RPG, but I seldom have time for them. The iOS games (such as Angry Birds, Harbor Master, etc) are very easy to pick up and put down.

Oh, I should probably mention, the iPod touch 4 also plays music. It even does a decent job of it. Good organization of tracks, Sound quality is good, and the battery lasts for a reasonable amount of time.