Welcome to Mac OS

Hello, World! OS X!

Why OS X and not iOS?

I've never owned a Mac of any kind before, hell I've barely ever used OS X before. So it seems bizarre to be buying into the Mac platform. Everyone else on the internet is singing the praise of the iPad Pro and how it is the next big step towards iOS becoming the future of computing. I can't argue with that, it is. I've used iOS now since the iPhone 4S. I love the iPhone, particularly for the third party ecosystem. I've tried Android on and off through the years and while the software and hardware continues to get better, it still isn't for me. I am too attached to the third party apps which I use everyday.

So based on these facts the iPad should be a natural extension of my iPhone usage. Except it's not. Granted I chose to buy one of the poorer designed iPad in the 1st Gen Retina iPad. Heavy and slow, it did not make for a great experience. However, it wasn't just the speed of the device. I tried using the iPad as my big screen device. It was a experience that just didn't add up for me. I realise that the iPad and iOS have come along way (if you have compatible hardware) with split-screen, better multitasking and faster hardware. I guess I am just one of those users who prefer a traditional file system <ding>.

What to buy? 

So, with this in mind and my recent determination to teach myself Swift OS X was the clear choice. This is where things got difficult. I am not one to buy a piece of hardware which is on the brink of an upgrade. Some do not care about such things, and realistically a Skylake MBP would not have any real effect on my usage. I have no intentions of doing any kind rendering of large video or audio files. Nonetheless, I decided to hold off until the Apple updated the MBP's (I am not a patient man.).

This is where the Macbook comes in. When Apple refreshed the Macbook in April I started to poke around Reddit and other forums to see what people were using the Macbook for. Turns out while the tech blogs like to rip on the little guy, it is actually quite a capable device. The more I looked into it, the more I realised that I was wrong to dismiss it so quickly. While the single port gets on people's nerves, I had been using my iPhone and iPad at home without any hassle thanks to my Synology. So that was the first hurdle overcome. Next on my list was Xcode. Having  zero experience with Xcode next on my list was, can the Macbook handle Xcode? Turns out it can. Seasoned developers might laugh at this but this machine is not for me to build the next Overcast. It is there to serve as a replacement for my Wife and I's ageing iPads and to allow me to dip my toe into Swift and try my hand at building some simple apps. Given that we travel back and forth to Ireland quite regularly, portability had to be factored in. With some consideration and a well timed refresh, I went and ordered a Macbook 2016.

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First Impressions. 

WOW.

For some context, my iPad (3rd Gen) is 0.94 cm thick. The Macbook goes from a crazy 0.35 cm to 1.31 cm thick and is roughly 40% heavier than the iPad (not factoring in the smart cover I use). Yet somehow it somehow feels lighter. From a pure engineering point of view, the Macbook is pretty incredible

Welcome to OS X

I am not trying to review the Macbook or OS X here. I lack any kind of experience on OS X and the Mac in general. I can speak to it as a first time user of OS X. Coming from Windows, which I use for my job, there is obviously a learning curve. You have to look up keyboard shortcuts, you don't know how to change basic settings or even how to minimise a window properly. This is all part of the learning curve and for a guy like me, it's actually fun. 

One point to note in my limited use so far... Apps. Yes, the Mac App Store is a mess according to every Mac user on the internet but for me I can finally get the counterparts to my favourite apps on iOS. That in itself is a big differentiator for me. 

Does it get the job done?

Yes. I have not met any slow downs or spinners while switching between Xcode, iTunes (iTunes U Videos) and Safari. For me, if the Macbook can handle that workload, then I don't need anything faster. 

I'm sure I will develop more in depth and insightful opinions on OS X as I progress with Swift and using the OS day-to-day, for now I am too excited to try something new and shiny to take in any of the little touches and features dotted about the OS.

 

 

iTunes U

iTunes U is one of those products Apple offers which is easily overlooked. While much of the material may not be up to the standards of Udemy of Lynda, the barrier to entry is much lower.

I have been working my way through the Plymouth University's iOS Development in Swift  course on iTunes U over the last few weeks. The ease of access to the materials has meant that I can squeeze a course section or two into my lunch break. While this is down to how the course is presented by the instructor,  iTunes U has provided the platform.

Bite sized learning like this may not be the most effective or efficient way of learning. For me though, it has shown that I am willing to put in the time and effort. My advice, if you are interested in learning a new skill, check out iTunes U first and see how you get on before splashing out on a paid course.

Learning Swift

I am teaching myself Swift.

I'm not entirely sure why this year, of all years, I have decided to bite the bullet.  To be clear, I do not have prior programming knowledge. Previous to this my only exposure to writing code was my attempts at learning; HTML, CSS and MATLAB briefly back in University.

Earlier this year, I decided that talking about it wasn't good enough any more. I did some research and found a few courses freely available online to get me started (a list of the resources I will be using are below). To be clear, I don't even own a Mac... yet. I am trying to prove to myself that I am dedicated to giving it a good go prior to making the financial investment required to build apps for iOS. 

I'm sure I will have plenty to say on the matter the further I get into the process. For now I am just focused on getting through some of the basics and seeing how my interest stands up to the task. 

There are many more resources available, too many to list here in fact. With this in mind I have found Learn Swift to be a great resource.

For a change of pace, I have found certain podcasts, such as Under the Radar an interesting resource.