App Dev 5: Buying a Mac for iOS App Development

September 17, 2013 in App Development

iPhone App DevelopmentI’ve been a Windows user for over 15 years but because I’m going to start developing iOS apps, it’s time to move back to the Mac platform. In fact, it’s required to have a Mac to upload apps to the iTunes store. Plus, the required software called Xcode only runs on a Mac. I didn’t really need a new computer because my current PC laptop has been enough to run my business up until now. But if I want to complete my goal of developing an iPhone app, I had to get my own Mac.

When it came down to shopping for a Mac, I had several options. First, there was the form factor. Each form factor has it’s advantages depending on what other functions I need it to do but the two to consider are:

  • Desktop
  • Laptop

For me, the only option was a laptop because I wanted to be portable. And I decided long ago that I would never own a desktop again. Still, for a little bit, I did consider a desktop option with the Mac Mini. Macs cost more than PCs and the Mac Mini was really the most inexpensive option when it shopping for a Mac computer. At around $600, I could’ve been all set but I would’ve been tied to a stationary desk connected to AC, monitor and external keyboard. But if budget is a concern, the Mac Mini is a viable choice.

My next option was to buy used. When I was comparing MacBooks, buying used was cheaper but at times it wasn’t that much cheaper than buying new. I searched my local Craigslist page and found lots of used MacBooks for sale. But the prices weren’t as low as I thought they were going to be. Also, a lot of the MacBooks were older models and would require some upgrades before I could even install Xcode.

But I also ran into several ads that seemed kinda scammy and the thought of meeting a stranger that knows I have $600+ cash in my pocket was an unsettling thought. I know there are trustworthy people out there but I didn’t want to risk being scammed or buying computer that might break right after I take it home.

So after thinking about this for a couple of weeks, I decided to buy new. That way, I’d be up to date on the latest hardware and operating system plus I’d be able to run the newest version of Xcode. There were several places I was looking at buying a new MacBook Pro:

  • Amazon
  • B&H Photo
  • Best Buy
  • MacMall
  • Apple Store

The best price I found was at Best Buy. It didn’t hurt that it was around Back to School time and I think Apple was starting to offload their current inventory for the potential release of the next generation MacBooks.  I looked at the other retailers and came to the conclusion that I was going to buy from either Best Buy or MacMall.

I decided that I was going to spend a bit more on my MacBook because it was going to also replace my old Windows laptop. That meant I was going to get my Mac with Parallels and Windows installed on it. If you don’t know what Parallels is, it’s an inexpensive piece of software that allows you to install other operating systems like Windows on a Mac. So I’m really going to have 2 computers in one.

I knew that MacMall has a policy where they will beat anyone’s price as long as it’s from an Authorized Apple Reseller. Since Best Buy had the lowest prices, I had to see if they would beat their price. After I chatted with MacMall, I found out that they won’t price match or beat Best Buy’s prices because they charge sales tax… MacMall doesn’t charge sales tax. Seemed kinda wierd to me but they wouldn’t match the price.

So I did some calculating with Amazon to see what their price would be if I ordered a computer from them with the same configuration and extra software. Turns out that buying from Amazon is almost exactly the same price as buying from MacMall once everything is added up. I also had to pay tax on Amazon.

Because the price was within $20 of each other, I chose to buy my MacBook Pro from MacMall. Here’s what I got:

  • MacBook Pro 13.3″ (non-Retina)
  • Intel Core i7 processor
  • 750GB hard drive
  • 8GB RAM
  • Parallels 8
  • Microsoft Windows 8

To top it off, MacMall offered free installation of Parallels and Windows 8 plus I got a rebate for Parallels which made it free also. There was also no tax and no shipping cost. Because of all this, I went with MacMall.

13 inch MacBook Pro Core i7 8GB

I chose Standard shipping (because it was the free option) and my new MacBook Pro arrived in exactly 7 days. So here is my new MacBook Pro.

For now, I’ve been playing around with it and getting re-acquainted with how Macs work. The big challenge will be re-learning all the shortcuts because I use keystrokes to do almost everything. It’s much faster than clicking into menus. In fact, people always ask me where a certain function is on a PC but I always tell them the shortcut because most of the time, I can’t remember which menu it’s in. One thing I’m missing is the numeric keypad but I’m loving the size of this notebook.

Because this MacBook is going to be used mainly for app development, one of the first pieces of software I installed was Xcode. So that’s installed and I’ve been tinkering with a piece of source code I just purchased. I don’t know anything about it yet but I’ll be dedicating a lot of time trying to figure it out!

Update

About 2 weeks after I got my Mac, Parallels 9 was released. Luckily for me, I ordered my copy of Parallels 8 one day after the start of their free upgrade period. So I will be able to upgrade to version 9. Usually on things like this, I always miss the cut-off dates for free upgrades and stuff.