The iPod Touch: A business tool, too

If you want the CFO to sign off on buying one, this checklist should help

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Another biggie for me is RSS feeds. Google Reader on mobile Safari is great, but again, it's not very helpful when offline. Thankfully, the hacker community has stepped in with RSS.app. It works exactly as an offline RSS reader should. Add in the feeds you want, and it polls them at regular intervals. Whenever you have a little downtime on the road, use it to catch up on your favorite news.

Perhaps the most glaring hole in the iPhone/iPod software lineup is the lack of GPS. That's where Navizon's Soft GPS application comes in handy. It makes a great companion to the mobile Maps application, and while not always accurate to the precise street or neighborhood, it makes a great starting point. On the iPod Touch, Soft GPS uses data about your Wi-Fi IP address, leaving a lot of room for error. (The iPhone version uses cellular radio tower triangulation and is much more accurate.)

Navizon Soft GPS on iPod Touch
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Navizon's Soft GPS app is a good starting point for finding your way.

Also missing from the iPod -- and from the iPhone, for that matter -- are offline reference libraries and e-book readers. I installed weDict.app and Books.app. The weDict application allows you to install a number of offline encyclopedias, and there are more than 20 available online.

weDict.app on iPod Touch
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weDict.app provides answers anytime.

Books.app is an e-book reader. Apple is missing a huge market by not putting these types of applications on its mobile devices. The iPod Touch screen, like the one on the iPhone, is amazingly bright, and the fonts are smooth and easy to read. Text-centric apps are a natural.

So where does this leave the intrepid business traveler about to make his case to the finance folks at the office? It's a pretty simple message: Apple has created a fantastic device with some amazing software that makes it a competitive piece of business hardware right now -- and opens the door for even more advances down the road.

Sure, it looks as though the marketing gurus at Apple decided to differentiate and delineate the iPhone and iPod as, respectively, "iPro" and "iToy" devices. Be that as it may, the iPod Touch offers a number of useful tools for business users already. Spell that out to the CFO and he might just agree. Heck, the CFO might suddenly see the need for an iPod Touch, too.

Seth Weintraub is a global IT management consultant specializing in the technology needs of creative organizations, including The Paris Times, Omnicom and WPP Group. He has set up and managed cross-platform networks on four continents and is an expert in Active Directory/Open Directory PC and Macintosh integration.

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