UK Web Focus (Brian Kelly)

Innovation and best practices for the Web

Joining The iPod Touch Generation

Posted by Brian Kelly on 19 Nov 2008

I succumbed! Well, I partly succumbed, buying myself an iPod Touch, rather than an iPhone (which is illustrated, but the user interface for the two devices is similar).  But I have to admit that I am impressed.

Yes the user interface is cool – or if you don’t like the ‘c***’ word the interface is intuitive and easy-to-use. But what I really like are the applications which exploit the device’s WiFi capabilities.  It’s good to access applications such as Twitter and Facebook from a mobile device – even if I have to download the data while I’m connected to a WiFi network; unlike iPhone users I can’t access networked services over a mobile phone network – but then again I’m not paying £40/month to O2!

I’m particularly excited when I speculate about the digital environment we’ll be living in in a few years time. Imagine what it will be like when most people have a device like this as a replacement for the current generation of mobile phones. And combine the richness and ease-of-use of such devices with, it is to be hoped, a more pervasive and affordable networked environment.  We with then have the personal information access point (Google, probably!), communications tool (such as Twitter) and location-aware tool (such as BrightKite) together with links with a desktop environment (I’m using the Netnewswire application on both my iPod Touch and my desktop PC). The digital world will be very different, I feel.

Of course the device will have its critics. Unlike the Google Android the device, the iPod Touch/iPhone’s operating system is proprietary; Google have made the operating system for Android available as open source.

And applications can only be (legitimately) installed from Apple’s walled garden – the iTunes Store.

But I think the world has moved on from the time when we seemed to prioritize certain aspects of the development environment over satisfying the user – we’re no longer dogmatic about open source and open standards, I feel; rather we seek to exploit open source and open standards if doing so can provide a satisfactory user experience. I think it’s good that we have moved to a more pragmatic approach rather than the dogmatic views we had in the past.

Yes, I like my new personal learning environment, personal research environment and personal social environment. Everyone should have one, I feel.

12 Responses to “Joining The iPod Touch Generation”

  1. Brian, I’ve had my iPod touch since May and I absolutely love it, so much so I don’t know how I lived without it! With my iPod touch I can retrieve my email and have read the latest BBC News headlines before my laptop has even booted up. Now I’ve delved into the social networking world with two feet, I love the Facebook app which allows me to quickly interact with friends and as I’m going to New York next week, I’m constantly keeping an eye on the weather! Free RSS is a great little app as is Flixster for movies, I do admit though I’m slightly jealous of iPhone users that they have all this while on the move.

  2. AJ Cann said

    Our Assessing and Recording the Student Experience project at the University of Leicester aims to utilize mobile technology to ascertain the learning spaces used by students at the University of Leicester, building on funding recently awarded by the JISC TechDis HEAT3 scheme. Students have been provided with a mobile wifi-enabled device (iPod Touch) and are using Twitter to record short messages describing where and what they are studying, and request or respond to support needs. Participants will use the device for two weeks before passing it to another student in the project. Participating students will have the use of an iTouch device for 4-5 weeks during which you will be required to send at least four relevant messages per day to qualify for the opportunity to be allocated an iPod Touch at the end of the project. See:

  3. Dave Surtees said

    Hi Brian,

    Hope you enjoy the touch – I have one, but decided to get the iPhone 3G recently. Both are great devices; I prefer the feel of the touch, but the added features of the phone were worth it (for me) – especially the location aware stuff (for example when you can take a pic, it’s geo-tagged with your location, which is then available to Flickr and others to use when you post it).

    I recently attended a talk by these people:

    They are “giving” iPod touches or iPhones to their 1st years, and have developed a portal designed with this screen in mind, they will also be developing ‘proper’ iPhone apps at some stage to extend their functionality.

    They demonstrated a nice example of using the phone as a “clicker” lecture feedback device, which was interesting to see — lots of potential.


  4. Milly said

    Hi Brian

    I can’t see an email address anywhere on this site, so thought I’d write a comment instead – I’m a journalist writing for We’re doing a set of features on web 2.0 use in universities, and I was wondering if you could give me some pointers on progressive universities? You can contact me on


  5. Hi Brian

    Hope you enjoy the new toy. I love my iPhone – particularly some of the apps that allow you to interact with twitter, brightkite, blogger and facebook. Most of them location aware.

    Of course, there are some fun apps too – I even blogged about them earlier today!


  6. Hi Brian

    Hope you enjoy the new toy. I love my iPhone – particularly some of the apps that allow you to interact with twitter, brightkite, blogger and facebook. Most of them location aware.

    Of course, there are some fun apps too – I even blogged about them earlier today!


  7. Drew McConnell said

    Hi Brian
    I have got an ipod touch recently and also am rather impressed with the varied functionality and the potential not to mention the interface which is way cool :-0.
    There is no other technology around (yet) that comes even close.
    The apps are stunning both in execution and potential. The you tube app is very good and there is an iplayer site from the good old bbc which is rather fun.

  8. Mike said

    lol. Glad to see you finally joined the dark side. Has Paul stopped being smug yet…?

    ps. when are you getting your Mac Air? :-)

  9. Nadia said

    Hi Brian,
    The Digital Team at the V&A just got some iPod Touches and I’m trying one out; I have to say I’m slightly disappointed. As you said, the WiFi capabilities are the best part of the device. But with an Touch you have to rely on having an available network, and every time I really needed to check my email (as opposed to the times in my own flat when I didn’t want to get out of bed and turn my laptop on), I couldn’t get a signal. OK, so that just depends on where you are, and sometimes you might be where you can get onto a network. But on one occasion I walked six blocks on Cromwell Road trying to get a signal, with no luck – and it was important for me to get one that evening. I guess the iPhone solves that problem, but the hefty price tag makes me gag. I love how the iPod Touch looks, but I think I’m going to wait until the price comes down for iPhone.

  10. Mark Power said

    Hi Brian

    I couldn’t agree more. It’s having a device like this that brings it home just how much closer we are to realising a satisfactory vision for mobile learning I think. It will be interesting to see what hardware developers do with the Google Android phone, we’re already seeing the iPhone imitations so – hopefully – we would have a situation where the devices are on top of their game, applications developers attempting to take on the variety and usability of the iPhone Apps…AND…Apple realising that, given the increased competition, they’d be wise in breaking out of this single network stranglehold that currently exists with O2.

    Personally I can’t wait until that breadth and quality of choice is in front of me…but then I’ve always been a sucker for shiny new gadgets anyway so nothing new there! ;)

  11. […] noticed over the year that more and more librarians have bought either an iPhone or an iPod Touch, and there have been some […]

  12. Hi Brian,

    You sound like i did when i received my iPod touch. It is an amazing device and one that has saved my poor little laptop from overuse. I love that i can wake up in the morning reach over and surf most websites with ease and not have to rest a clunky laptop on my groin potentially rendering me infertile.

    I decided against the iPhone as i change my mobile device frequently and feel that the iPod Touch is worhy of being in my possession for more than 9-12 months. A well constructed device with one of the best user interfaces i have come across along with a method of digital application delivery that any idiot can use.

    I hope you are still having fun now Brian. Martin

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