Apple have made a bunch of the iPhone applications available for the iPod Touch. These are Google Maps, Mail, Notes, Stocks and Weather. I can confirm that all work here in the UK, but read on for more details on their limitations.

Apple are charging £12.99 in the UK and $20 in the USA for the new software pack that’s been dubbed the ‘January Software’ upgrade. You purchase and install the software using iTunes.

Worth noting at this point that BEFORE you can buy the software, you MUST ensure that you are running the very latest version of iTunes (Version 7.6.0.29) and that you have also installed the free firmware upgrade (Version 1.1.3) for your iPod Touch. Both released in the last few days. Once both are upgraded you can find the link to purchase the ‘January Software’ upgrade on the main iTunes store page.

See : How to upgrade your iPod Touch Firmware and How to upgrade iTunes

Apple Taking the Piss?

There’s obviously much being said about having to pay for new iPod Touch software, especially by those that received an iPod Touch for Christmas and are now facing an additional cost to upgrade the software on a product that’s only 3 weeks old. It is worth noting that this is NOT and upgrade though. The software gives you 5 new applications. You don’t have to buy or install them.

Whether the 5 new applications are worth £12.99 or $20 is highly debatable. All but the ‘Notes’ application requires your iPod Touch to be connected to the Internet using a Wireless connection. Here in the UK, Wireless connectivity simply isn’t widely available, making these application nothing more than gimmicks to show your family and friends at home, work or wherever you can find a wireless connection.

I for example, have a Wireless connection at home, but as soon as I get 30 feet from the Wireless Router in my dining room all connectivity to the Internet is gone. The only place in Great Yarmouth to have public access is a pub. All pretty useless really.

The 5 Applications

Of the 5 applications made available, the ‘Mail’ is the best, again entirely fucking useless to me personally, but brilliantly executed. It’s pre-configured for use with Yahoo Mail, Google Mail, AOL and .mac, but you can set it up to use any POP, IMAP or EXCHANGE email service. BUT you can already use most web based email services using the Safari Browser that came installed on your iPod Touch.

The ‘Stocks’ app is great for tracking stocks and shares, but only if you have stocks and shares to track. Again, you can already track stocks and shares using the Safari browser.

Google Maps. Nice gimmick, but how often do you actually use a map? Once, twice or three times a year? One big feature of Google Maps is that it can provide directions and track where you are at any given point, but this feature only works with the iPhone. There’s simply no way of Google Maps knowing where your iPod Touch is located. So basically it just provides a list of directions that you’re better off printing from multimap.co.uk using your home computer.

The ‘Weather’ application is entirely shite. Mine is set to place called Cupertino in California, which apparently can expect sunshine today. The 5 day weather report is provided by Yahoo!, but the function to change my location was broken at the time of writing this. Until it’s fixed I’m stuck with knowing that I don’t need my brolly if I’m planning a trip to Cupertino.

The ‘Notes’ application is well useful for writing notes, but not really. I mean, I don’t write notes to myself ever.

One New Feature I Really Like

With the upgrade you can add links to your favourite web sites and web applications to the main screen of the iPod Touch. That’s cool and very useful. You can also set up multiple main screens that you easily switch between.

The Verdict?

Don’t waste your money. I know that most of you will probably buy it anyway, I did, but I have to say that it really is a large waste of £12.99 / $20. No two ways about it. I don’t mind that Apple charge me for new applications for my iPod Touch, but I do scold them for providing me with 5 utterly useless applications.

Here in the UK we’re still waiting for a wider range of TV shows to be made available and there’s still no news of when we’ll be able to purchase or rent movies.

The Alternative

If you’re one of the many iPod Touch owners that have gone through the process of hacking your device, known as Jailbreaking (See A simple guide on Jailbreaking your iPod Touch), then you’ll probably already have a much of what’s offered in the January Software already installed/available on your iPod Touch.

If you want to get more out of your iPod Touch, and you’re a little bit technically minded, you may want to consider Jailingbreaking your ipod Touch. I tried hacking my iPod Touch when I first got it, I failed miserably, but it’s got much easier. I still have no pans to attempt it again.

If any of these 5 new applications are tempting I highly recommend that you look for alternatives that use the Safari browser before splashing the cash.

As always your comments are welcome. Use the comment link below.

See also : How To Buy The New Official Applications For The iPod Touch