[Review] PocketTouch 3.02

Discussion in 'iOS Jailbreak & Cydia' started by Ezekeel, Apr 24, 2009.

  1. Ezekeel

    Ezekeel New Member

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    I bought my ipt2g about five weeks ago and while overall I love this little piece of hardware, the device has some serious and annoying shortcomings when used as an mp3-player. While every discount mp3-player for 20 bucks has an easy accessable button to switch to the next song the geniuses at Apple tought that the ipt2g does not need such a thing. As consequence, for the simple task to switch to the next song I need to perform four actions - press the Home button, tap/slide to unlock, press next song, press Sleep to lock again. When doing sports or riding the bike, this is a really annoying distraction, thus I normally just let the song run thru.

    So, I looked for a way to make switching songs easier and I stumbled over the app 'PocketTouch' made by our own beloved forum grinch Skylar which looked promising since it offers the capability to change a song with a simple swipe to the touch screen. I gave this app a try and tested it thoroughly both in a practical field test as well as under more artificial conditions to gather some hard data. Since I thought that my conclusions might also be interesting for others, I decided to write a small review of PocketTouch. So here were go.

    I downloaded the latest version of PocketTouch (version 3.02) fresh from Cydia which installed without a hitch. I started a song in the MobileMusicPlayer app, started PocketTouch and to my suprise swiping the screen did not do anything. After searching the forum, it turned out that you have to set up PocketTouch first using Settings. Ok, I opened Settings, set up PocketTouch and started it again and voila it showed me the song running at the moment, the volume and the swipes worked as advertised. Swiping left/right changed to the previous/next song, swiping up/down increased and decreased the volume and a double-tap paused the song. Shaking the device changes to a next random song and since I did not wanted this feature I simply diabled the shaker. Great.
    Since the input is done over touch screen and locking the device disables the screen and thus the PocketTouch controls, the lock timer can be deactivated automatically by PocketTouch (set up in Settings) and instead the screens dims to save battery power.

    Ok, so far so good. The next thing I did was taking my iPod out for a bike ride to see how PocketTouch practically performes in the field. As it turned out the PocketTouch controls are really sensitive and it happened quite often that simply by putting my hand into my pocket and grabbing the iPod I accidently changed the volume or the song or paused the playback. Since I did not need the ability to change the volume with PocketTouch, I disabled it which made things a bit better. Still, even after some hours of practise, the control are too sentive for me to be operated with ease while riding a bike without accidently doing something unwanted. Nevertheless it beats the alternative of unlocking the iPod just to change a song and thus I really started to like PocketTouch.

    When I got back home after about three hours I realized that this rather short trip drained the battery more than usual. Since PocketTouch is an additional program which is running all the time while the music is played, it is clear that this inevitably will put an additional strain on the battery. Furthermore, since the screen cannot be deactivated, but only dimmed, this will also drain the battery faster compared to an iPod which is locked during music playback. To get an idea about the additional processor load caused by PocketTouch, I ssh'd into the iPod and both ps and top gave me an average load of about 2% for PocketTouch which is surprisingly high considering that the processor load of the actual music playback performed by MobileMusicPlayer does not even show up (0.0% in both ps and top). Hmm yeah, not so great.
    To check how this affects the running time of the battery I did two test runs. For the first run, without PocketTouch, I gave the iPod a clean reboot, disabled WiFi and the ssh demon, attached some microphones and set the volume to max-2 ticks (this is how I use my iPod), charged the battery to full and then let the iPod play music for five hours straight while locked. This drained the battery to 89% according to the numeric battery display. The second run was performed under the same conditions, however I used PocketTouch (with the display of the song title disabled to drain as less additional battery power as possible). After the numeric battery jumped from 89% to 88% I noted the total running time which was 127min. This means that the power consumption of the device with PocketTouch running was more than two times higher than playback while the iPod is locked which in my eyes simply is not acceptable.
    Not only does this mean that the running time of the battery is cut in half, but also that you have to recharge more often and thus on a long term also reduce the lifetime of the battery by the same factor. In my opinion this trade-off is definitely not worth the additional convenience offered by PocketTouch.

    Well, as it turned out I am still searching for a way to conveniently change songs without having to unlock my iPod. Someone please make an app that changes the function of the Sleep button while the device is locked, so when pressed it changes the volume buttons to previous/next song. Press again and you are back to volume mode. Press Sleep and hold for 1sec and the song pauses, short press again and it continues. No need to keep the screen activated and thus a lot better for the battery.
  2. SkylarEC

    SkylarEC Super Moderator Emeritus Staff Member

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    Removing anything from the display doesn't have an effect on the battery life.

    The fact that MobileMusicPlayer uses less battery life than PocketTouch is expected and irrelevant. The reason being that the MobileMusicPlayer is nothing more than a shell for the actual media player. PocketTouch, due to restrictions in the 1.x and 2.x firmwares needs to fool the device into thinking that the app is an external device. To do this, it must create and maintain an IAP (IPod Accessory Protocol) connection, the same way as an external dock would.

    Now that the 3.0 firmware has opened up access to the media player, PocketTouch 4.0 will work exactly the same way as MMP, and thus should have equivalent battery consumption. I have also changed the way I track information in 4.0 as well, which will help.

    And while I could very easily make a substrate extension that changes the function of the volume/sleep buttons (within about an hour or so), I refuse to. The volume buttons should be used for volume, and the sleep button should be used for its default purposes.


    EDIT: The sensitivity of the screen is NOT a PocketTouch flaw. The sensitivity is the sensitivity and can not be changed If you do not like it how it is, I suggest you write Apple a letter.
  3. Samphotog

    Samphotog Member

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    double tap home on the lockscreen
  4. idelgado

    idelgado New Member

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    Cant you just buy the apple headphones that have the little remote with controls for volume and playback?
  5. Ezekeel

    Ezekeel New Member

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    Nice. I did not know this also works on the lock screen. Thanks for the info. Still, I have to take the iPod out of my pocket for changing a song.

    Oh oh, did someone just activate the Captain Headphone signal?

    No honestly, I have the Denon C551 headphones which are much superior to the crappy Apple headphones so that is not an option for me. I maybe could look for a adapter I can put between my headphones and the iPod if something like that exists. Where is Captain Headphone if you need him ...?

    Yeah, but even if with FW 3.0 you would have to keep the screen activated all the time for the controls to work. This in an inherent flaw in the whole idea of PocketTouch you can and will not resolve, ever.
    I do not understand why you are so dogmatically opposed to the idea to use the volume buttons for switching tracks. The way I see it, hardware should be used the way it brings the greatest benefits to its users. Please give me one logical reason why the volume buttons should be used for volume only. It is not like 'guy using the volume button on his iPod to change the tracks' is one of the seven seals.
    Using the volume buttons for changing tracks compared to PocketTouch has the two advantages that, first, the screen does not need to stay activated and thus the power consumption will be much less, and second, it is less likely to accidently change the tracks. On the other hand, I see no advantages of PocketTouch over the simple button control.
    Why continue to waste hours of your precious time working on a project you KNOW is inferior to the simple button control solution you could implement in less than one hour. This is a fools work, Skylar, and I hope you will see it before you reach the top and your rock will start tumbling down the other side of the mountain because sooner or later someone will implement this.
  6. manofason

    manofason New Member

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    Absolutely agree about PocketTouch flaw in that it still relies on touching the screen. Good on you Skylar for sticking to your guns rather than swaying to user demands, good luck with that, meanwhile I'll look for someone who understands requirements.
  7. ipod_touched

    ipod_touched New Member

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    LOL maybe u should wait til they release the next ipod touch, i herd it will actually come with a box locked up and if u want to open it to get ure ipod u gotta pay like more money n they recomend u leave it closed as another ipod touch will probably get released next week or maybe the new iphone nano , apparently its the size of a toothpick n it features a touch screen, bluetooth (only for display purposes) and some other useless crap

    thank you apple u stupid noobs
  8. arikado

    arikado New Member

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    I have the same gripe as you, TC. I really hate taking out my touch from my pocket just to change a song! its riduclous, i should be able to do it blindly/put my hand in my pocket and press a button.

    AND especially when i want to hear something, i HAVE to press the down volume button like 5 times until i can hear, as opposed to a nice pause/play button.
  9. Khsbenny

    Khsbenny New Member

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    Why isnt there something that when you hold the up/down volume button that it changes the song? Im sure I've seen this on other MP3 players.
  10. jimbeam

    jimbeam Active Member

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    This would be nice. Dubble tap up/down on the volume button to change tracks and hold to adjust volume. Would be great!

    The only time I use my iphone for music is when I'm driving. I keep it pluged into my car stereo and I find both apples default controls and pokettouch a little distracting, since I can't feel the controls and poctettouch is a little hard to control on bumpy roads, even new paved roads because I keep the phone in the cup holder and have to fumble around with it to change a track. Taking my eyes off the road.

    Volume controls to switch tracks would be great! I can just grab the phone without looking, feel for the volume buttons and change the track, all while keeping my eyes on the road. I really don't even use them to adjust the volume, I keep it at full and adjust it with the knob on the stereo.

    Have an SBsettings toggle for it would be nice too.

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