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Best Mac for app development

Mark Hattersley | May 31, 2013
With Mac OS X and iOS going from strength to strength, many are interested in developing their own apps. Apple Mac OS X computers are especially useful for programming, and many developers want to invest in Mac hardware.

What is the best Mac for developers? With Mac OS X and iOS going from strength to strength, many Macworld readers are interested in developing their own apps. Apple Mac OS X computers are especially useful for programming, and many developers want to invest in Mac hardware.

But choosing the right Mac for development can be a challenge. Apple creates a whole range of Mac notebooks and desktop computers. Although all Apple Macs are great, some are better suited to app development than others.

With this in mind we've created this guide to buying the right Mac for app development. In this article we take a look at what a computer requires to be truly great for creating apps, and the features you pay more for. We then look closely at the range of Mac computers available, and the custom built to order options available that make sense for developers.

We also look at some of the accessories, software and services available that make sense for keen developers.

Developing apps on a Mac

Apple goes to great lengths to make it easy to develop apps (or small programs) for both Mac OS X and iOS. The development environment used to create apps for both is called Xcode, and this is a free download from the Mac App Store.

Uploading and selling Apps via iTunes requires a yearly subscriptions to the Apple Developer connection, but it's good value at $99 per year (approx £60). You only need this to upload and distribute apps via the Mac and iOS App Stores however, you don't need to pay this fee just to test and create apps.

You do need a Mac to develop apps for the iPhone and iPad. You can't code the programs using a Windows or Linux PC. But once you've got a Mac, any current model, you are pretty much good to start using Apple's Objective-C programming language and iOS SDK (software development kit) to create apps.

Software development scales up depending on the size and complexity of the program you are making, and the computer you need depends on the type of program you are making. If you're an independent developer, creating a small iOS app then you can use just about any Mac (it doesn't even need to be a particularly recent model). Unlike creating video or music; creating code doesn't require huge amounts of hard drive space. And if you're creating iOS apps you don't need a lightning fast processor, or a high-end graphics card.

In short: any Mac will probably do. So then it becomes a question of which one will provide the best coding environment.

Apple's Mac range for developers
Because coding is a high-end and complicated task, you may be tempted to veer towards Apple's pro line-up. You don't need the fast innards of the Mac Pro or MacBook Pro to develop apps.

 

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