Preview: TouchTerm Promises to Up Ante with 2.0

By Timothy R. Butler | Posted at 4:14 AM

Apple’s App Store for the iPhone and iPod touch is proving interesting in large part because it has suddenly mainstreamed the idea of downloading third party applications for a mobile phone. With the prominent storefront, developers seem anxious to get their fifteen minutes of fame. TouchTerm’s developers, however, are now trying for a second fifteen minutes — can they get it?

TouchTerm got its name out early on not because of its robustness, but rather because it was the first SSH client to go onto the iTunes Store, working towards quenching iPhone toting system administrators' hunger for a way to use the iPhone for light server administration. At first, it lacked even terminal emulation, making it impossible to do many simple tasks. With that in mind, once pTerm and iSSH appeared, the only thing that seemed notable about TouchTerm was its extremely low $2.99 price.

That situation appears to be changing rapidly. TouchTerm gained terminal emulation in an update to the 1.0 release and with an aggressive development schedule, the newly released TouchTerm 2.0 has become the first terminal app on the iPhone to support key-based authentication for more secure (or convenient password-less) authentication. This alone will likely make TouchTerm worth reconsidering by those who have focused on pTerm and iSSH.

The TouchTerm team also seems to be trying some unique ideas to orient a mobile, touch based device for SSH use. For example, a “buffered mode” allows one to enter a command before sending it to help make typing and editing easier when on a slow EDGE connection where live entry could potentially be patience testing. When using this mode, TouchTerm also offers a nifty command history to ease reusing commands.

TouchTerm’s developers have announced that they are working on TouchTerm Pro, offering promises of unique administrative tools to utilize the iPhone’s touch-based interface. While the developers were mum on the details of what these features will be, they did offer some insight to OFB on pricing. The more robust application, which will be offered alongside the current standard edition, will ring up at $10. However, in an effort to encourage users not to wait for the improved program, and avoid penalizing early adopters who have already bought the original program, TouchTerm Pro will be offered for $3 off for a limited time after launch.