Developing Perspective

#92: The New Developer Machine Landscape.


00:00:00   Hello, and welcome to Developing Perspective.

00:00:03   Developing Perspective is a podcast discussing news of note and iOS development, Apple and

00:00:07   the like.

00:00:08   I'm your host, David Smith.

00:00:09   I'm an independent iOS developer based in Herne, Virginia.

00:00:11   This is show number 92, and today is Wednesday, October 24th.

00:00:16   Developing Perspective is never longer than 15 minutes, so let's get started.

00:00:19   So what I'm going to talk about today is yesterday's Apple event, which is perhaps unsurprising,

00:00:25   and that's why today is Wednesday rather than Tuesday.

00:00:28   But basically, let's see, I was encouraged

00:00:33   by what I saw yesterday.

00:00:34   Honestly, in many ways, I was much more encouraged by it

00:00:38   than I was by the iPhone 5 event.

00:00:40   Because while the iPhone 5 is awesome,

00:00:43   I didn't leave the event being like, oh my goodness, wow.

00:00:47   Apple is really doing amazing things

00:00:51   and really kind of pushing the edge at all.

00:00:53   It's kind of like it's the next logical step.

00:00:56   And there are a lot of things in yesterday's stream

00:01:01   of announcements that I think really were quite impressive,

00:01:04   and things that I'm glad they're doing.

00:01:06   And so what I was going to talk through today

00:01:08   is, first, I'll talk a little bit about the iPads

00:01:12   and a few thoughts there.

00:01:14   And then mostly, I'm just going to focus on how

00:01:17   all these new machines change the ideal developer machine

00:01:21   landscape.

00:01:22   Now, first, I'll talk about the iPads.

00:01:24   So basically, first, there's always the amusing story of the 220-day-old iPad 3 being deprecated,

00:01:35   essentially, which is a little awkward.

00:01:38   If you bought one of those, which I'm sure most people who do any development on the

00:01:44   iPad did because it was the first Retina screen, it's kind of annoying that I have two, maybe

00:01:50   three on the iPad.

00:01:52   because there are so many different things going on with them, so I have a bunch of these

00:01:55   iPads that are going to be kind of underpowered and kind of difficult to support going forward.

00:02:01   And I say difficult to support because they're in this really awkward middle ground where

00:02:06   the original, so the iPad 3 was sort of barely able to support a retina display.

00:02:13   It did it, but you couldn't really tax it too hard, it would struggle a lot with certain

00:02:16   operations, you know, some of the classic even simple things of like trying to, I think

00:02:20   I think this is a great example of taking a render of a graphics context would be kind

00:02:26   of rough because it's so many pixels.

00:02:28   And now that it's perfect, now they've actually released the iPad that you can almost kind

00:02:33   of imagine that they wanted to release back in March.

00:02:36   It's a little awkward though for developers because now we still have to support the whatever

00:02:41   it is 10, 15 million iPad 3s that just came out, which I'm sure they sold quite a lot

00:02:47   of them.

00:02:48   We have to support them and manage them, but they're being replaced on the Retina side

00:02:53   by a much more capable device, the iPad 4, which is by all accounts a much more capable

00:03:01   thing.

00:03:02   It has a faster processor.

00:03:05   It's the same physically, but better in a way that is hopefully helpful.

00:03:11   It's kind of annoying.

00:03:12   I'm not sure if I'm going to get one right away.

00:03:14   Honestly, the thing is there's not that much that it does that the iPad 3 won't

00:03:19   Do and I'm nervous about sort of starting to do a lot of my testing and things on an iPad 4 at least right away

00:03:27   Because my guess is I may be pushing I push things to a point where they wouldn't work as well on this weird kind of

00:03:33   Limo device, so I'll probably order one right off the bat, but I'm surely I'm gonna bench that one of almost everything at this point

00:03:41   The iPad mini is interesting. I like I like the concept of it. I think the price is a bit high but

00:03:48   Whatever they can do what they want

00:03:50   Pricing I think from a form factor perspective. I think they nailed it. I think it looks really nice. You know sleek thin I

00:03:57   Like the like I love love love that the screen resolution is the same. It's just a higher pixel density like that is great

00:04:05   I'm going through my apps right now kind of making sure that everything

00:04:09   Works at that size and it should if you've meter tap targets at a reasonable size

00:04:13   On the old iPad they should still work at the smaller size the thing that I'm more worried about is fonts

00:04:19   And specifically some of my font size choices just making sure that you know a font that was

00:04:24   Say like I did a 10 or 12 point font for a small subtitle or something somewhere that may have worked

00:04:31   On the old iPad, but it my god is that it won't it'll be a little too small

00:04:36   on the new ones. So that's something that I'm looking at fixing and changing.

00:04:40   Just kind of making sure all my text is nice and readable. My tap targets I'm pretty sure

00:04:44   are fine, but I'll also be going through those. And that's kind of really all you have to

00:04:46   do. I mean, I would expect the biggest impact of the iPad mini is that there's going to

00:04:51   be a big jump in sales in iPad and iPad apps, just because the price point's moving down.

00:04:56   And it's a much more likely gift, I would say, than the original iPad, just in the sense

00:05:03   So if you're getting in the door at $329, in a way that before you were

00:05:08   getting-- and my guess is Black Friday sale, that'll probably be $299,

00:05:13   would be my guess.

00:05:14   My guess is that's a ton of them on that kind of thing.

00:05:17   And so I think it's a big deal for--

00:05:20   I'm working as hard as I can and frantically

00:05:22   to check the weather ready for the iPad to make it work on both platforms,

00:05:28   because I think there's going to be a lot of growth right there in the very

00:05:32   near term.

00:05:33   making sure that I'm on the cusp of that wave.

00:05:36   But otherwise, it's all good stuff, nothing too dramatic.

00:05:38   I was a little surprised to run any iOS announcements.

00:05:42   Just had a gut that they might do something with that.

00:05:46   But they didn't.

00:05:47   Really, iBooks and iBooks Author stuff was really the only sort

00:05:51   of software announcements.

00:05:52   But overall, a pretty good run, just a little bit

00:05:55   annoying about the iPad 3.

00:05:58   All right, so I'm going to talk now about how all these new Macs

00:06:03   that they've basically revamped the entire lineup,

00:06:06   save the Mac Pro, since June, essentially.

00:06:10   So at WWDC, it was a new 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro and Ivy Bridge

00:06:16   MacBook Airs.

00:06:17   And then now they've added to that a new mini, a new iMac,

00:06:21   and a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro.

00:06:24   And I think that creates a very interesting sort of segmentation

00:06:28   for the market in terms of what's the best developer machine.

00:06:33   And I think it works out pretty well.

00:06:38   I was giving it some thought last night

00:06:40   and I think Apple's created some fairly nice chunks

00:06:42   for if you're a developer, or someone really,

00:06:44   what I mean by developer machine,

00:06:47   I mean someone who's using their computer professionally,

00:06:48   that this is what you do for your career

00:06:51   to make your living on it.

00:06:53   And so it's not the kind of thing that you're just like

00:06:54   surfing the web or watching videos or those types of things

00:06:55   where your choices and your trade-offs would be very different.

00:06:58   If you're using this to make your living, you have different goals, different characteristics,

00:07:04   and different things that you're trying to accomplish.

00:07:07   So first I was going to work my way through the lineup, starting off with the Mac Pro.

00:07:15   And basically, I think the Mac Pro only makes sense to buy at this point if you need some

00:07:23   kind of odd, like, external graphics card, or specific graphics card set up, or you need

00:07:30   to have five hard drives, or something very, very specific like that.

00:07:35   You need two DVD drives.

00:07:37   Like there are a few things that only it can do, but pretty much that's it.

00:07:42   I would generally say, speaking, not recommend the current Mac Pros for anybody.

00:07:48   It's just a really old machine.

00:07:49   I think it hasn't been revised in over two years.

00:07:53   And I mean, other than the stupid update

00:07:56   they did at WWDC, that wasn't really an update.

00:07:59   But it's really not a great machine right now.

00:08:02   And there's a lot of more compelling options.

00:08:04   So I would just write that off from the start

00:08:05   because it's kind of expensive for what you're getting.

00:08:08   And they're clearly not putting a lot of effort into it.

00:08:11   Maybe this coming year, they'll release something new,

00:08:13   maybe at WWDC or something.

00:08:15   Like Tim Cook's email, oh, we've got some good stuff coming

00:08:18   in 2013, maybe, but stay tuned.

00:08:22   Next, I was going to say the Airs.

00:08:24   The Airs are great machines.

00:08:26   I love the Air I have.

00:08:28   I've seen a lot of people who love their Airs.

00:08:30   The Airs are a great machine if portability is vital for you.

00:08:34   And by that, I mean if you're someone who's

00:08:36   a traveling consultant, if you're

00:08:38   someone who's bouncing between meetings all day,

00:08:41   if you're someone who--

00:08:42   one of the most important things for their computer

00:08:44   is that you're able to walk around with it.

00:08:46   An Air is a fantastic machine.

00:08:48   They're pretty capable.

00:08:49   They're not quite as fast as a lot of the other things

00:08:51   I'll talk about.

00:08:52   But they're probably fast enough at this point,

00:08:54   especially because they're all SSD based.

00:08:57   And that means that a lot of operations,

00:08:59   other than things like compiling,

00:09:01   are probably going to be very fast and snappy and good.

00:09:04   So if portability is your main goal, just get an air.

00:09:07   They're amazing machines for that.

00:09:09   I mean, you'll barely even know you're carrying them,

00:09:11   especially the 11 inch, which is typically

00:09:15   what I recommend for somebody.

00:09:16   And I say that because for me the 13 inch air doesn't make a lot of sense because you're in it's sort of small

00:09:22   But it's kind of big still a bit bigger. It's like I want if I want a small computer

00:09:26   I want a small computer

00:09:28   I mean my air actually fits in one of my coat pockets for I have a scotty vest which is a great Jack lots of big

00:09:33   Pockets and ask you I can fit my air in there like that's great if I want something that's a bit bigger

00:09:39   I would probably move towards getting a retina macro Pro at this point

00:09:42   So that's why I'd say if you want to do something small,

00:09:44   get an 11 inch air, max it out, great machine,

00:09:47   you won't be disappointed.

00:09:49   Next, I was going to talk about the Mini.

00:09:52   And the Mini, I think, is a great starter machine now.

00:09:55   The Mini is a great starter machine

00:09:57   because from a pricing perspective,

00:09:59   it's really inexpensive compared to a lot of the other options.

00:10:02   And obviously, you don't get a monitor with it,

00:10:04   which all the other machines come with.

00:10:05   But if you have an existing monitor kicking around,

00:10:07   you have an older display, you have an old cinema display,

00:10:10   old any display, is a great way to get a Mac.

00:10:14   And from a performance perspective,

00:10:15   it's actually kind of interesting.

00:10:16   If you max out the Mini on CPU, you're

00:10:20   actually getting a machine that's probably about as fast

00:10:23   as the fastest 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro, which

00:10:27   is a pretty beefy machine.

00:10:28   It's what I use right now.

00:10:29   And I mean, it's great.

00:10:31   And so Mini's a great machine.

00:10:33   It would certainly work well for a build machine or those types

00:10:36   of things.

00:10:36   But I'd say if you're a developer,

00:10:38   really short on cash, really kind of just need something to get going,

00:10:43   even an entry-level mini is probably going to be really good.

00:10:47   So definitely worth keeping in mind,

00:10:50   it's not as compelling as some of the other things I'll talk about, but it's definitely

00:10:54   a solid machine. If money is the most important thing, I'd say a mini is a good choice.

00:10:59   Next is the iMac, and the iMac, I'm kind of looking at it from a

00:11:03   professional machine perspective of

00:11:05   the iMac is the

00:11:07   It's almost the new Mac Pro in some ways, where it is...

00:11:11   You can get the... If the thing you want most is raw CPU performance,

00:11:16   the fastest CPU you can currently get in a Mac, I think...

00:11:19   Mmm...

00:11:22   You can get one of the fastest, the highest value high-performance CPUs

00:11:27   in a Mac today comes in the iMac.

00:11:31   If you get the crazy maxed out, I think it's a 3.2 GHz quad-core i7 or something.

00:11:36   I mean, it's a-- that is a beefy machine.

00:11:39   And you may be able to get more speed out of one of the--

00:11:43   a Mac Pro with, like, whatever, the 12 core or something,

00:11:46   if you're doing rendering or something,

00:11:48   some kind of operation like that.

00:11:49   But for actual use, sort of thread-based use,

00:11:53   my guess is the iMac is going to come out pretty well

00:11:56   in the benchmarks for performance.

00:11:59   Typically, I don't recommend iMacs.

00:12:01   I used an iMac for a couple of years, and I kind of regretted it.

00:12:03   And especially this one looks even worse.

00:12:05   in the sense that if anything goes wrong, absolutely anything, it's kind of annoying

00:12:11   that it's all in one.

00:12:14   And so, and it's very, at least in my experience, it's really awkward to have a repair go well,

00:12:21   in the sense of, I've definitely had it where I had a hard drive go bad and they went in,

00:12:24   they changed the hard drive, and then there was dust under the glass.

00:12:28   And so they had to take it back and it's a really hard thing for them to repair well

00:12:33   because it is so integrated and so all in one.

00:12:38   A laptop's a little bit like that these days,

00:12:40   but at least the laptop has a different discrete display

00:12:45   versus components on the bottom.

00:12:47   And just in general, I don't feel--

00:12:51   and you're getting a lot more for that compaction.

00:12:55   And so I like the iMac if performance

00:12:58   is what you absolutely need.

00:13:00   but typically my guess and my main recommendation

00:13:04   is that if you're looking for a great if you really are a developer who wants to do

00:13:07   some work

00:13:08   professionally on your computer the best thing is going to be to get a Retina MacBook Pro

00:13:13   they're great I have the 15 inch version which is the sort of if you have the

00:13:16   money

00:13:17   it's worth it model and you get the 15 inch I got a nice specced out one

00:13:22   certainly very expensive but it's very worth it it's a great machine

00:13:27   It's portable, high-performance, the Retina screen is amazing.

00:13:30   And for iOS-- and for Mac development, it's kind of essential.

00:13:34   For iOS development, it's just very helpful.

00:13:36   The fact that I can run an iPad Retina simulator natively on the screen,

00:13:41   and it looks normal, rather than on any other display,

00:13:44   you're kind of having to scale it down and things.

00:13:48   That just doesn't work as well.

00:13:49   So I really recommend a Retina Mac Pro.

00:13:51   I'd say a 15-inch-- if you have the means, I highly recommend it.

00:13:56   If you don't, if money's a bit tighter, I think a 13-inch Retina MacBook Pro is probably

00:14:03   the--is really, really good.

00:14:04   The Mini is only if you have, like, if you're really strapped for cash.

00:14:08   If you have a--if you can afford it, even a baseline Retina MacBook Pro on the 13-inch,

00:14:12   which is not too bad on the, you know, as Macs go, would definitely be where I'd start

00:14:17   off.

00:14:18   It's a great machine.

00:14:19   It's fast, nice SSD inside.

00:14:20   The screen is gorgeous.

00:14:22   And all you're really getting with the 13 versus the 15, from my opinion, is you're

00:14:26   you're just getting a little bit, you're saving some money.

00:14:27   The 15 is a better machine for almost in all,

00:14:30   in almost every measure except for size,

00:14:32   but the size difference isn't as dramatic.

00:14:34   So that's kind of where I'd say.

00:14:36   All right, hopefully that's helpful.

00:14:37   And as always, if you have questions, comments or concerns,

00:14:39   I'm on Twitter @_davidsmith.

00:14:42   I'm on AppNet @davidsmith.

00:14:44   And otherwise, if you guys have a good rest of your week,

00:14:46   enjoy the new stuff, you know,

00:14:47   be up at 3 a.m. to do some ordering

00:14:49   and I'll talk to you later.