Typing on the itouch

I just got one of the new iPod touch models. It’s pretty amazing so far though it’s clear that apple has engineeredamy of the features to try and get you to pay for apps especially in the games department. Still it is a great little machine and I am slot but surely acclimating myself to typing on a glass touch screen.

One disappoinment so far has been ワイヤレスゲート aka wireless gate, a service that let’s you connect to wireless hotspots at mcdonalds and some other areas like the bullet train. so far I have tried it at a few mcds with no luck whatsoever. At just 380 yen a month it’s a steal but only if it actually freaking works.

31 thoughts on “Typing on the itouch”

  1. There is basically no free wifi in Japan — that would be against the law or something — but I don’t know a single person who has signed up for one of those paid wifi services who has had any luck with it.

  2. The WordPress app works fine with mutantfrog.com. This was posted using the app on my home wireless network.

    “Engineered Amy” was not a typo. It’s the title of my screenplay about an android girl who falls in love with her college professor.

    Yes the keyboard is kind of a pain, but I am getting used to them. In a pinch I can use it to type an email here and there.

    I am completely blown away at the shittiness of the Wireless Gate service. In my experience so far it does not work as advertised at all. The big test will be on the Shinkansen to Osaka next week. If it doesn’t work then I am definitely asking for my money back.

    The NTT wifi service has more locations (can be used on Tokyo Metro stations) and apparently better service but it’s more expensive and somehow does not support ipod touch/iphone (I am guessing that’s intentional to screw Softbank customers).

    There are a couple more reliable wireless options such as eMobile and UQ WiMax. Wimax is apparently really fast for a wireless service but both options are kind of expensive and intended as a primary Internet provider rather than something to buy together with the home fiberoptic connection. Also they limit connections to one per PC, so a married couple would have to pay double if they both want the service.

    As for free options, there is a service called Freespot that some hotels and cafes subscribe to. It’s really rare though.

  3. I was debating getting either an iPhone or an iPod touch. A friend counseled that the touch is mostly useless in Japan for online activities, since free wifi is so scarce even in the Tokyo/Yokohama area. I ended up going with the iPhone, and I’m quite pleased so far.

  4. I thought about the iphone/itouch too, but know about the powerful Apple marketing machine. They release products bit-by-bit, knowing folks will buy the latest each time.

    Instead, I went for the Sharp SH-04A. Touch screen, slide-out keyboard, full browser access and a better camera than Apple. (at the time)

    I base my whole (rather insignificant) blog on using only this device.

    PS… did I mention the camera? Not only 5M, but also a loupe function (which is perfect for my job) but also able to scan business cards and enter the data into the adress book. Both 英語 and 日本語. -love it!

  5. Free wifi should not be a problem. Where do you spend most of your time? EIther home or at work. You can set up your own wifi in those places. I did.

  6. I just wasn’t willing to pay the very high fees for the iphone. The itouch itself is great with the functions it already has. Reliable wireless service would only be icing on the cake.

    Not that I have nothing to complain about:

    What really bugs me is the fact that the Safari browser will automatically try and reload web pages when you come back to a window. If you’re not connected, the page disappears and you are 100% screwed.

    One other issue — Where are the decent free games? Even Minesweeper tries to get you to shell out for the advanced mode. Minesweeper!

  7. I have wifi at home, but I also have a PC which makes the ipod somewhat redundant (unless I want to look something up on Wikipedia while watching a movie on the TV).

  8. I managed to find a couple of Freespot locations around Kyoto during the month I spent waiting for my internet service to get hooked up when I moved back here last year. They are few and far between, but do exist. One was in the falafel restaurant near here, another was in Seattle’s Best coffee shop downtown (where I parked for hours next to the electrical outlet a couple of times.)

    Typing English in the iPhone is pretty good once you get used to it, but their Japanese input methods are wretched.

  9. As someone pretty well-versed in keitai emails I find the Japanese input pretty easy, but maybe that’s just me

  10. I have had fairly good luck with BB Mobilepoint (which I can access at no extra cost from my iPhone). I suppose it may be more expensive than Wireless Gate, but at least it works. I have used it in McDonalds, on the Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka (but not on the way back, it seems it’s only available on some trains), and in Shinkansen waiting rooms (including platform waiting rooms). Many Renoir coffee shops also have BB Mobilepoint access.

    Of course I’m spoiled because I can always use 3G whenever WiFi is unavailable. But I do prefer WiFi when I can get it because it’s much faster.

    BTW, the reason you can’t use NTT’s wireless service with the iPhone/iPod Touch is because it requires PPPoE, which is not supported by the iPhone/iPod Touch. I don’t know if that was intentional on NTT’s part.

  11. Actually, Wireless Gate *is* BB Mobilegate (by which I mean it shares the same access points. You have to use a proprietary Wireless Gate itouch app to connect). You can also access Livedoor Wireless hotspots. Just so far the connection has never ever worked. According to the instructions all i have to do is provide my logon information in the itouch app and it will detect and connect to the network. It has detected the networks but has so far always failed to connect, even after trying all over the McDonalds on all floors.

    I should have mentioned that detail about NTT wireless except it was too much of a pain to type it out on the ipod…

  12. Well, I was very good with Japanese keitai input, but the iphone version is a lousy imitation of that, which even in a best case scenario is far slower and less accurate. The worst part about it is the shitty tiny popups for selecting the kanji conversion, and the screen for selecting them is also pretty bad, as well as the lack of decent memory.

  13. With the lack of free wifi here, one really needs 3G, but the softbank network is frankly not the best. I just got the android phone for DoCoMo. OS is relatively immature but could become a true competitor to the iPhone.

    I have a comparison on my site. BTW, typing on Android now.

  14. I can’t even type my own site URL properly. The 審査 was no problem, also. So it is also a 3G option for those who fail softbank’s examination.

  15. I haven’t had any issues with the Softbank network in Tokyo. It occasionally cuts out in elevators and reinforced basements, but that’s about it. Much better than eMobile anyway.

    I agree with Roy’s sentiments on Japanese input, though. The sole bright side is being able to handwrite kanji on the screen through the Chinese input.

  16. The Softbank network is definitely far weaker than AU, at least in Kyoto. I haven’t used Docomo or eMobile though, so I can’t compare them. I have few problems outside, but my iPhone gets no reception in most of the indoor areas on campus that I have to go to.

  17. BB Mobilepoint, as Scott points out, is available at more places than you’d suspect. The problem is that signing up is a bit of a pain. But I’m glad I did. I’ve been standing on train platforms and received WiFi by chance (or proximity to some fast food place with WiFi). That being said, I was just in the Minami Alps, and the Softbank server was not accessible, or woefully weak when accessible.

    As for the keyboard, it is clunky at times, but at this point, I can type faster on the iPhone than I can on a Blackberry. It takes clever use of the Pogue Period and a bit of a leap of faith to ratchet up the speeds. Japanese isn’t quite as good, but I blame the IME more than the keyboard itself. I still haven’t seen a solid app with which you can register readings of jukugo, and kotoeri is still far inferior to Microsoft’s IME in terms of sheer vocabulary…

  18. I’ve been using macs (and some linux) exclusively for nearly 10 years. Kotoeri was not as good as window’s IME back then and still isn’t now, unfortunately.

  19. I’m thinking of getting an ipod touch so I can listen to BBC radio
    on the chuo line to make the commute a bit more bearable.
    I’ve heard you can do it through flycast.fm as ipod touch
    can’t play windows media / real player in a pop up window.
    could anyone verify if this is true ? it would make my commuting life….

  20. I haven’t had any issues with the Softbank network in Tokyo. It occasionally cuts out in elevators and reinforced basements, but that’s about it. Much better than eMobile anyway.

    Just got an iPhone a month or so ago. I haven’t had major issues with the Softbank network, although it takes freaking forever to refind the network after you go through a subway tunnel or something. I just installed OS 3.1.2 so we’ll see if that improves anything, although I think this is a Softbank problem rather than an Apple one.

  21. I still can’t understand why there is no mobile reception in subway tunnels in Japan. In Seoul, you can use a phone (even a Japanese phone) non-stop throughout the subway network.

  22. I don’t really know the answer to that, Joe — but my only guess would be aside from Tokyo Metro, all of the subway systems in Japan are owned and run by local governments. Even Tokyo Metro, neé Eidan, used to be a government-run entity until five years ago. That might have something to do with their lack of interest in extra investments that won’t make any money. (Compare to Tokyo Metro’s recent expansion of underground shopping malls around the city.)

  23. I was also a bit of a whiz myself on the keitai mail in Japanese but found that the iphone was bloody annoying. inputting via the the romaji input was slow and the henkan line that pops up used up valuable space.

    was looking on the app store today and came across this: flick master

    although I have not bought it (although it has stellar reviews) I realised that it is best to use the tenki input. but what makes it better than the keitai is that if you hold down say, the ka key the ki ku ke ko pops up around it. you only have to remember the order that they pop up in and then you can really speed up the typing. I hope. (potentially) quicker than double/triple tapping like on the usual keitai.

  24. They probably just decided that it’s not worth the money it would cost to put cell reception in every subway tunnel. A service with marginal enough utility seems even less useful when you consider how many of the commuter trains in Tokyo aren’t even underground.

  25. “In Seoul, you can use a phone (even a Japanese phone) non-stop throughout the subway network.”

    This may – I stress ‘may’ – be due to the fact that the Seoul subway system is also designed to act as a mammoth bomb shelter if the Korean War gets serious again. They may need communication down there.
    (Or is that just an urban legend?)

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