Steve Jobs and his minions have made it very easy to have fun with a portable computer — and very simple to sit and consume like good little, umm… consumers. Despite his best efforts, I have survived my first two weeks with the marvelous iPod Touch without buying an app or a song or a movie (oh my!).
I have consumed plenty of data, and I have spent a lot of time — maybe too much time, but I have used it to create, too.
My son, who is seven, insists that it is okay for me to call it an iTouch. Maybe Apple didn’t call it that because they knew the ubiquity of touch screens was coming. Or, maybe they just wanted to avoid the “I touch” jokes.
I never thought I would favor the virtual keyboard, but I was wrong. I’m already faster on it than I was on the flip-up keyboard in the feature phone I carried for about two weeks. Although its lack of any satisfying clicks is a bit jarring, my inner Tourretter is adjusting.
I sunk many hours into familiarizing myself with the phrase, “There’s an app for that,” by finding and installing several for free. Mapquest, EPSN Scorecenter, IMDB, PhotoShop Express, Netflix, Yelp, AllRecipes, Kindle, and, yes, Facebook, all are easy and fun to use. Games include Veggie Samurai, Hangman, and BubbleShooter Free, along with the now classic Paper Toss.
I’ve always been a bit of an audio nerd, so it’s no surprise that my favorite app is a gem called GigBaby. It turns the Touch into a four-track recording studio, allowing me to record a melody line and then go back and listen to it while recording the harmony. It also includes many rhythm tracks, with precise control over the volume of all parts. I see it as the first full version app I will buy (at a whopping $0.99), and then probably the more feature-laden mixing application GigDaddy (which goes for a relatively expensive $2.99).
I sat down with my son’s 3/4 size guitar tuned to open E and improvised a tune (undoubtedly a derivative of others I have heard). Please note that I did not even touch the fretboard to do this, and I am not a guitar player.
With no way to use the GigBaby recordings I pulled off the Touch, I used the Clear Record app, which allows me to record uncompressed WAV audio files — something I’ve never been able to do with my trusty Olympus DS-20. They’re mono, but they sound great and were easy to e-mail out of the Touch for some fun stereo mixing in Audacity.
If you’re reading this on an iPod Touch, iPad, or other Apple portable electronic, then you won’t see the nifty Flash player above this paragraph (isn’t that funny?). Try clicking here, but I can’t guarantee it will stream well or even work at all.
Although I’m certainly not an early adopter, I’m having a great time with this fascinating device, and this post only scratches the surface.
(Technical details: I recorded using only the built-in mic on my iPod Touch (4th Generation). My existing external binaural mics do not work with it, and it will be a while before I plunk down any money to experiment with adapter solutions or a microphone like the MityMic. I’m not even certain the Touch will record in stereo, so my binaural mics may prove useless.)