Also significantly better on the iPhone 4 than the iPod touch is the camera quality. The iPhone 4’s 5MP sensor manages to produce some pretty good shots, but the same can’t be said of the 0.7MP unit in the iPod touch. Photos look okay on the device itself – a trick the original iPhone managed – but you’d never want to use them away from Facebook or similar web-based services.
Video is less disappointing. 720p recordings come off the device looking better than we expected given the poor stills quality. The camera doesn’t seem to have much problem capturing motion, but panning the device itself can cause a little tearing. In both stills and video modes there’s no focussing on the iPod touch, but tapping on the screen does (attempt to) adjust the exposure to suit the selected area. We accept that Apple doesn’t want to erode sales of the iPhone 4 by making the iPod touch too similar, but the camera really doesn’t feel as good as it should.
The front-facing camera is good enough quality for FaceTime calls. We still question how popular Apple’s voice chat will become when it’s limited to just two devices, and only works over a Wi-Fi connection, but it works as advertised. The only real annoyance is the slow connection speed – at times taking a good minute for a call to start.
As it runs iOS 4.1, the iPod touch comes with Game Center – misspelling and all. This lets you look at a list of friends, send and receive friend requests, and browse a list of games installed on your device. Eventually you’ll be able to launch into multiplayer games with friends using Game Center, but currently it’s pretty much useless.
Game Center is the second Apple’s social platform to not quite grasp what makes social platforms successful. Were Game Center to integrate with Twitter, Facebook and their ilk there might be more chance of an uptake in users. As it is, though, we can’t see it taking off.
Performance is one aspect on which we can’t fault the iPod touch, which never feels sluggish. It’s the entry-level model that will benefit most, as previously this was crippled verses its higher-capacity siblings. There are a few places where the improved performance makes itself known, though; eBooks open faster than on the previous iPod touch and a number of games have shorter loading times. We’re talking half-second differences, though, so it’s not exactly a revelatory improvement.