Wednesday, July 14, 2010

iOS4 on an iPod Touch 2nd generation isn't such a great match

I upgraded my iPod Touch 2G to the latest software out of Cupertino about two days after it was announced. I'd tried to install after the official release date, reasoning it was better to wait to avoid the rush. I shouldn't have bothered. It took nearly six (yes, six) hours to backup, update, and restore my Touch. This is with the latest iTunes on a Dell Latitude D630 with Windows XP SP3 and 4GB of DRAM (of which Windows only sees 3.5GB). And we're talking a dual-core T7700 running at 2.4GHz. With nVidia graphics. It's no barn-burner, but it's no netbook slouch either.

After spending the good part of the day waiting for my Touch to upgrade, I was finally treated to the wonderfully crippled iOS4 user experience. I got old and busted hardware, so no multitasking and no fancy wallpapers (even though I could select one in preferences) for me.

The only new feature I seemed to get was the transparent doc at the bottom (bit deal) and the equivalent of folders, which I call collections. You can see them on the bottom row in the screenshot to the right.

The collection feature allowed me to grab all my extra apps that were spilling over to other pages and put them all on the first page. That's where I ran into one of the peculiarities of collections; you're limited to a maximum of twelve items. Try to add that unlucky 13th, and it won't drop in, just back onto the "desktop". Oh well. Supreme Leader Steve Jobs was wise enough to know IDidn'tNeedThatCapabilityAnyway(tm).

I discovered that dragging apps into containers wasn't always easy. Sometimes you'd get lucky and you'd hit the container on the first attempt. Other times iOS4 made the random assumption you actually wanted to just reorganize the apps, throwing the existing arrangement all over the screen. Fortunately I only needed four containers for all my extra apps, so it didn't take long to get everything contained and sorted out.

My next complaint has to do with the lack of stability in Mobile Safari. I've been treated to one of the crashiest versions of Mobile Safari to date. I don't spend that much time messing with my Touch, but I can guarantee that it won't take me long to find some site somewhere that will crash Safari back to the desktop. And there's no particular rhyme or reason (i.e. I can't seem to repeat it). Sites that work just fine will up and kill Safari. Then I'll restart Safari, and it will browse the site like nothing happened.

My biggest complaint is performance. The latest version of the software isn't slow so much as it's choppy. Tasks will take seconds to complete, then the next five to ten minutes of operations will execute at normal speed. Choppiness seems to take place when coming up out of simple sleep mode (i.e. the screen is off you press the power or home keys to bring up the "slide to unlock" screen). iPhone OS 3 (and version 2 when I first bought the device) was never this way. It was always smooth as silk in operation.

It's good I didn't have to pay for this upgrade like I had to pay for iPhone OS 3, or I'd be a little steamed about wasted money. As it is I'm seriously thinking of downgrading back to the last version of OS 3 installed on my Touch and just leaving well enough alone for the rest of the device's life. The experience was better. And the new crippled features I can quite live without.

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