iPhone Life magazine

Taking the Apple plunge

Switching from a PC to a Mac, and becoming an iPhone application developer

I hadn’t touched a Mac since fifth grade. After all, Macs are for graphic designers, not programmers like me, right For the last ten years I’d been using Windows PCs to create Web sites and develop applications. I didn’t want a Mac, and a plain old cell phone—without Internet capability—was all I really needed.

That was sixty days ago, before I took a job as an iPhone application developer. Talk about taking a big plunge! My new job required that I work solely on a Mac to develop iPhone apps. My entire computing life was turned upside down—or as some might say, right side up!

Getting used to my new MacBook

Overall it’s been a satisfying switch. Sure, I’m still learning to deal with the differences in how the Mac OS functions. But I must say that I’ve never seen a computer start up and shut down so quickly; it’s a big advantage when I’m on-the-go. In addition, my MacBook’s battery life is impressive. Is it the battery itself or the efficiency of the OS

I’m also impressed with the Mac OS layout for administrative tasks and system preferences. Apple seems to take a less-is-more approach with this: the screens are clean, you can find what you need, and the settings are where you expect them to be. Having no prior knowledge of the Mac OS, I was easily able to set up new Internet connections, configure extra monitor displays, and use Preview, a convenient tool for taking screen shots and manipulating images. I hit a snag when I tried to lock my Mac. (Why isn’t Ctrl-Alt-Delete working) A brief Web search resolved this.

Working on a new development team


Beginning work with a new development team can be a bit tricky, and I was especially concerned this time because I lacked background in the Mac environment. However, this did not turn out to be much of a problem. The best thing about the switch was working with the new mobile development team. It was more interactive than teams I’d worked with in the past, and everyone’s input contributed to the development of cool solutions.

Developing mobile apps for the iPhone is more fun than previous projects I’ve worked on. The iPhone lets me carry around my latest designs, show them to others, and get their instant feedback. I’m no longer dependent on a server or database connection, and I don’t have to lug a laptop around to demo new software.

The fact that my clients also have iPhones can help the development process in unexpected ways. For example, I scheduled a WebEx online meeting with two clients, who happened to be physicians. When they called in I was surprised to find out they were lacking an office DSL connection so they entered the WebEx meeting with the iPhone instead! Without any prior WebEx experience, they followed the link for the iPhone WebEx app and we had a successful meeting. The two doctors were on the conference call and viewing my shared-desktop from a single iPhone.

The biggest difference is that just about anyone can relate to the software I’m working on now. Unlike previous projects, where programs have significance to the select organizations they were built for, these apps can be used by anyone. Discussing my work with family and friends has become a steady flow of entertaining conversations. It’s no longer something that bores and confuses them.

“Where’s my iPhone”

I went from “I don’t need all this extra stuff!” to “Where’s my iPhone” very quickly. Having my e-mail at my fingertips is great for staying connected with co-workers and friends. And I no longer have to use my laptop to log onto a corporate server and remind myself about tomorrow’s meetings—it’s all there on my iPhone. In fact, I spend far less time on my Windows laptop at home; something my wife sees as a definite plus! Of course, I’m still browsing the Web at home, but now I use my iPhone to do it.

Experimenting with iPhone apps has become a new full-time hobby. Sportacular lets me check game scores and statistics quickly. The Weather Channel gives me forecasts for my hometown and travel destinations. And though I’ve never been a big gamer, I enjoy playing a few amusing rounds of iShoot Lite in my spare moments.

An Apple convert

After using a Mac full-time for a couple months, I continue to appreciate its value as a business and personal computer. And after using the iPhone for the same time, I can tell you that I definitely will not be going back to a dumb cell phone. I’m thrilled to be working on iPhone applications, and my Apple metamorphosis has definitely switched me on to improved daily routines and an upgraded work environment.

The journey has just begun for me—I am anxious to see what’s up next.