Q: I purchased an iPod touch for my son for Christmas. He does not use my computer and I do not let him have Internet access on his computer. Is the iPod touch a plug and play like his former MP3 player or does he need to connect to the Internet in order to use it? I hope he can use it without having to put all his music and pictures on my computer to do so. Can you please help me? Thanks.
A: The iPod touch can be used without an Internet connection on the computer you’re connecting it to, although you will need to have iTunes installed on that computer if it’s not already there. The iPod touch does not come with an installation CD as you are expected to download the latest version of iTunes from the Internet. You can either temporarily connect your son’s computer to the Internet to do this, or you can simply download iTunes on your own computer, and then copy it over to his using a CD, USB memory key or a home network connection.
Note as well that iTunes will likely expect you to be connected to the Internet the first time you connect the iPod touch so that it can complete your product registration online. This is a completely optional process, however, so you can safely ignore any warnings about this, and if you are concerned about registering the product with Apple, you can either do so by connecting the iPod touch to iTunes on your own computer (if you have it installed there) or simply go directly to Apple’s web site.
While the iPod touch will function fine without Internet access, there are some limitations to be aware of. Firstly, software updates for the iPod touch are delivered across the Internet via iTunes, and it will be necessary to occasionally connect the iPod touch to iTunes on an Internet-enabled computer just to update the software. These come out infrequently, however, and are usually prominently announced in various iPod-related news sites such as on our own main page.
The second consideration is that he will not be able to download content from the iTunes Store—even free content such as podcasts and some of the free applications which can be added to the iPod touch. The iPod touch itself includes a built-in App Store section, so some free applications can be downloaded directly from the Internet via the iPod touch’s built-in Wi-Fi, but an iTunes Store account will be required to do so, and this needs to be set up from a computer running iTunes with an Internet connection (note that setting up an iTunes Store account also requires a credit card, Paypal account, or iTunes Gift card to get started).
Lastly, if you are concerned about your son’s Internet access, keep in mind that the iPod touch itself is an Internet-enabled device and he will be able to get onto the Internet with it wherever there is a Wi-Fi connection, such as can be found in many coffee shops. If this is a concern to you, then you will definitely want to take a look at the parental controls feature on the iPod touch.