Upgrading App Development Kit

Mac Mini (2018) with 4K Monitor
Mac Mini (2018) with 4K Monitor

My current setup for developing iOS apps is a Mac Mini (2018 model) and an iPad Pro (2018 model). After 6 years of working on a MacBook Air, I decided to upgrade in 2018.

In 2009 I started developing for iOS when I bought a Mac Mini. My goal was to create games, but it wasn’t until 2011 when I started working with Corona that I released anything, a game called Super Smoothies co-created with a friend. The game was developed with a basic text editor as that was all that was required for coding. In 2012 I wanted a faster machine and also one that was mobile, so I opted for a MacBook Air. In 2013 I released another game, Discbord, again created using Corona.

In the last year I decided I wanted to combine my love of running and exercise with my love of technology and coding. It became clear that building an app using xCode and Interface Builder wasn’t an experience I was happy with on a MacBook Air. Even connecting my MBA to an external monitor was still a poor experience. I opted to upgrade my kit and as I knew Apple were to announce new hardware in late-2018 it became a waiting game.

My initial plan was to purchase an iMac with a 5k screen, but Apple messed that up by not releasing new iMacs in 2018. Instead I opted for the new Mac Mini, and bought my own 27-inch 4K monitor to use it with. As I also had my older 1080p 23-inch monitor I ended up with a great dual-screen setup.

However, the picture wasn’t complete. I do a lot of note-taking when designing apps and I wanted to digitise those. My idea was to get a new iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, so that instead of having folders full of paper notes, I could have virtual folders full of digital notes. I’m so happy with the iPad that I’m writing this article on it, using the Apple Keyboard Folio. Note-taking with the Apple Pencil is good, but taking a little getting used to after years of using paper.

That’s my hardware setup for the foreseeable future, and one I’m more than comfortable with using to design and develop apps for iOS. There are a still a few kinks to work out, but for now I am well on the way to getting a good workflow up and running.