The App Store doesn’t just give the iPod touch access to a huge library of games. There’s a veritable plethora of other apps, too. Safari is an incredibly good mobile web browser, there’s no denying that, but given the choice I’d rather check Facebook or Reddit via their respective apps – the process is just that bit slicker.
There are plenty of examples of great apps for the touch, from the Sonos remote control to Spotify. A few of them are perhaps a bit overpriced for what’s on offer – £5.99 for train times? Really? – but for the most part the pricing seems pretty decent.
The real problem with both games and apps is that with so many available through the App Store, it’s hard to know which ones might be worth taking a look at. Luckily, Apple has done some work to fix that with the latest touch firmware update. Genius, previously used to recommend tracks on the iTunes store you might like to buy based on what’s already in your library, now works for apps too.
App recommendations aren’t, in my experience, quite as good as with music, but for the most part the results are decent enough. Based on having installed iReddit, for example, Genius reckons I might also like the NYTimes application, while also suggesting that based on my purchase of SimCity I might also want to check out X Plane Airliner. It’s just a shame there aren’t any filtering options to limit recommendations to only four star or better rated ones, or just free apps, say.
On the subject of Genius, I should mention that the music side has been updated, too. If you have the latest firmware (again, on any generation of device) and iTunes 9 – which you really should get anyway as it’s much improved over iTunes 8 – you’ll get access to Genius Mixes.
In effect, these mixes are little different to hitting the Genius icon while playing a track – you still get an automatically generated playlist of tracks that, to quote the Apple tagline, “go great together.” With mixes, however, playback is continuous. Grouping is done by Genre, although I’m assured that the algorithm takes much more than that into account, which I’m more than happy to believe.
I’m not quite as enthused about Genius Mixes as the ‘normal’ way of using Genius. By dint of playing a wider sample of tracks, the selections felt a little less smart and a bit more eclectic. That’s not to say that an ‘Alternative & Punk Mix’ of Green Day, Blink-182, The Offspring and Nirvana doesn’t work, but occasional oddballs like Paramore and Taking Back Sunday don’t fit quite as well. Call me picky, but I don’t think In Bloom flows into Dance, Dance particularly well. Although if you need me to point out that those songs are by Nirvana and Fall Out Boy respectively, maybe you wouldn’t mind.
Unlike other sites, we thoroughly test every product we review. We use industry standard tests in order to compare features properly. We’ll always tell you what we find. We never, ever accept money to review a product. Tell us what you think - send your emails to the Editor.