While most of my tech and gadgets I update at a predictable rate (which is always a little bit too fast from my wife’s point of view) one item that has been lagging behind has been my laptop. I switched to a MacBook Air back in 2011 and for usage it has been just fine over the last five plus years. Even when I started pushing into iOS development I was surprised how well the MacBook Air faired. In the last few months though things seemed to take a turn. I am sure part of the change was me pushing the system a bit more but some of the blame is probably on the macOS Sierra update as well.
I have been on the outlook for that mysterious MacBook Pro update that the entire Mac community has been waiting for but just kept slipping and slipping down the calendar. Finally, last month we got the MacBook Pro refresh we were waiting for and to be honest, I was a bit underwhelmed. I think the TouchBar is good step forward and I am all for the new USB-C based world but nothing on the machine jumped out at me to say “I need that”. So that caused me to look around a bit and really evaluate what I needed in a new machine.
The iPad is actually really capable
Note that I said new machine there, not new laptop. That’s because I did really try to make an iPad work for me full time. Over the last month or so I have been using my iPad Air 2 in a Logitech keyboard case and it has been truly a different iPad experience then I have ever had before. Somehow when an iPad get’s paired with an external keyboard it becomes a completely different device. All of a sudden this fun based gadget now feels like a productivity tool like it never has in the past. And keep in mind this is with a 9.7 inch screen! Like I said on Twitter the 12.9 inch iPad Pro now makes much more sense to me.
The more I pushed the iPad the more I was impressed. Using OneDrive as my file system I was able to treat this machine as my main device. That is until I got to development. I think that one sign of platform maturity is the ability to develop for that platform, on that platform. Third party developers have been pushing this envelope for quite a while with apps like Pythonista and Continuous .NET. In fact Apple has made great progress here with iOS 10 and Swift playgrounds. But all that being said you still can’t create full iOS applications from iOS, at least not yet.
Back to the Mac
So now that I have settled on needing a full macOS machine, what are the options. A Pro that I am not 100% thrilled with, an Air that hasn’t been updated in a very long time and a regular old MacBook that’s not made for hardcore work. Or is it.
I started looking at Geekbench scores for the Macbook and comparing them to my 2011 MacBook Air. Overall it’s a huge increase. Combine that with how nice and small the actual hardware is and now I’m seriously considering a MacBook for doing development work on. How can that be? Simple, in those 5 years hardware has actually come a long way.
Here We Go
So a week ago I walked into the Apple Store and picked up a Macbook (m5, 512GB). I have been using it for basic tasks like email and browsing, which it really excels at, and also some Xcode development while on the train. Overall I have been pleasantly surprised. It’s been able to handle everything I have thrown at it without an issue.
I have a lot of travel coming up over the next few months so I think an ultralight laptop is a good thing to have. I figure this makes it a multi-month trial period. If something doesn’t work out come March of next year I sell it and get one of the new MacBook Pro’s with TouchBar. Hopefully at that point they have all the bugs worked out.
TL;DR - I got a Macbook adorable and will be trying it out full time for the next few months. I’l let you know how it goes.