Back in early February, I decided to treat myself to a base model 14” MacBook Pro, upgrading from a 16” model from 2019. I had it in my head that I was going to write a big post on my experience of using an M1 Mac compared to an Intel. From both a user and developer perspective, and go over any adjustments that I would have needed to make. Turns out, that won’t be happening, as it’s been a completely seamless experience. This machine is great, and to be honest, it’s surprised me a lot.
Why I Got the Base Model
My last machine had an 2.6 GHz 6-core Intel Core i7 processor, 32 GB memory, 1 TB storage, and a 16” screen. So, this time, I imagined that I’d probably need around the same spec. Except I didn’t really know what to expect from Apple’s M1 chip. I had heard it was better, but then when I was asking on Twitter, and watching reviews on YouTube, it still seemed like developers “needed” the higher spec M1 Max chip, and definitely 32 GB memory or higher.
Based on the feedback I got, and the reviews I watched/read, it seemed like the model for me was the 16” MacBook Pro with the M1 Max chip and 32 GB memory, so it was looking pretty expensive.
But then I remembered how well received the original M1 MacBook Pro/Air machines were, even the models with 8 GB memory. So, I decided to look at it from another perspective. I wanted one of the newer models (14” or 16”), so I started with the base model 14”, and decided that I’d only choose an upgrade if I was certain that I’d need it.
The screen size was easy, I’ve had many 13” models, and the size was always perfect. I went with the 16” last time because I wanted to experiment with a larger screen, but I can’t say it ever added much value for me. So, 14” it was.
Which M1 chip to get was the hard choice. The base chip seemed to be so much more powerful than my current Mac, so it seemed straight-forward. But I still had the recommendations in my head that developers needed the M1 Max chip, or at least a very powerful M1 Pro chip. I then came across the XcodeBenchmark project on GitHub. It’s essentially a very large Xcode project, from which build times can be measured, and various MacBook specs can be compared. My Intel MacBook Pro built the project in 242 seconds, so that was my baseline. When I noticed that the M1 8-core Air took only 128 seconds, I knew that whatever model I got, I’d be getting a substantial upgrade in power. The base M1 Pro chip in the 14” model was even faster at 109 seconds. That was enough reassurance for me, so I decided that I could easily get away with the base M1 Pro chip.
The memory became a lot simpler when I discovered that the Mac I use at my day job only had 16 GB, and I had never encountered an issue. And the storage was never really an issue since I don’t really use much storage on my laptops, I have a load of stuff in iCloud, and a load more on my NAS.
All of that meant that I didn’t actually need any upgrades. Turns out, the base model was all I needed.
Like I mentioned at the beginning, my experience with this machine has only been positive. It’s by far capable of what I’ve been throwing at it, whether that’s been compiling and running iOS/macOS apps or playing games like World of Warcraft. I can’t say that I’ve ever pushed this machine anywhere near its limits. Which both makes be pleased I chose this model, but also confused why I was seeing so many recommendations for various upgrades.
The keyboard was a big surprise for me. I’m not sure if I didn’t know, or I’d just forgotten, but I didn’t realise that the keyboard had been upgraded in the new models. The key travel is much better, the keys are so much more responsive, and they feel really sturdy. I was also expecting to be slightly disappointed by the lack of Touch Bar (I was one of the few fans), but that didn’t happen at all. The downsides of not having a few contextual actions available near the keyboard really don’t outweigh the responsiveness and ease of physical keys.
These are great. I don’t know how you’d go about explaining how good they are, but now I’ve experienced these, I can’t listen to any other laptop speakers again.
I’ve had a few Zoom calls on this machine, and I have seen an upgrade in the camera quality. Nothing to shout about, but definitely an improvement.
From what I’d read and watched on the new M1 Macs, I expected that I’d be dealing with Rosetta a lot. Especially when developing apps. But, I haven’t actually had to deal with it at all.
I’m guessing that some apps I’ve used may be running using Rosetta, but I haven’t noticed anything weird. So, I guess it’s all working as expected.
I’m not sure how believable this is for people, given what I’ve seen online, but I honestly never noticed the notch when I’m using this machine. I only remember that it has a notch when I see someone mention it on Twitter, and then I look up and see a black cutout over the menu bar.
My expectations were that I’d find the notch to be hideous and intrusive, but I was very pleasantly surprised.
Overall, I can only reiterate how great this machine is. It’s by far more than I need, and I think the same will probably apply to most people. The base model is so powerful now, I think that if you aren’t aware of any specific use-cases of yours that absolutely require an upgrade, then the base model is most likely more than sufficient.
I got my Nintendo Switch just 10 days ago. It’s the Pokémon: Let’s Go, Pikachu edition. I have just that game for it, and I’ve been playing it pretty much non-stop since I’ve got it, and I thought I’d share my opinions so far.
The console overall feels like the ultimate Nintendo console. It’s perfectly capable of being a great handheld device, but also super easy to just place it in the dock and play games on a television. I especially like the controller combinations, as there are quite a few. You can simple attach the Joy Cons to the console, play with one/two separately, use the “dog ears” controller (I like that name so much, I’m not bothering to find out the official one), and even the Pokéball controller that came with my Switch.
It feels powerful, while also being really customisable, and flexible to your needs.
My Pokémon Background
I’ve been interested in Pokémon ever since I was a child, and to put it bluntly, I was obsessed. I watched every episode of the series, played every game, watched every movie, and had a ton of Pokémon toys. My first game was Pokémon Yellow for the GameBoy Color. It was released in the UK in the year 2000, just before my 8th birthday. I’m not too sure when I actually got the game myself, but I can imagine it was pretty near that date. I kept it on me at all times, and become pretty attached to it.
Of course, over the years I’ve grown to be slightly less obsessed with the franchise. But I still play all the games, watch all the movies, and try to watch some episodes of the tv series. I’ve also been a pretty regular Pokémon GO player since it was released a few years ago.
I’m a big fan.
When I first started hearing about the game I wasn’t sure about it. I remember people reporting that it would be very similar to the simple playing style of Pokémon GO, and I was not pleased about that at all. But there was an interview with two people from Game Freak that cleared up a few things, and reassured me a bit.
Then the videos started to come out and to be honest, I was still a bit unsure how the gameplay would feel, compared to the original games. The main questions I had were about how you caught Pokémon, not being able to battle with wild Pokémon, and that the randomness about finding Pokémon seemed to be ruined by your ability to see all the Pokémon walking in the grass before you even initiated anything.
However, when I first launched Pokémon, Let’s Go, I was pleasantly surprised. And all of my worries about the game instantly went away. It just felt as if it was a perfect evolution of the game series, and everything made sense. The artwork was brilliant, and I loved the initial introduction with Pikachu. While the map is the same, everything is brighter, in much more detail, and of course, it’s in all three dimensions! So even just exploring the map is fun.
Seeing Pokémon in the Wild
One of the biggest changes in the gameplay was that you now see wild Pokémon running around in the grass. Before playing the game I thought this was a terrible idea, after playing the game I now find it one of the best changes they made.
Turns out, seeing the actual Pokémon running around in their natural habitats is actually very enjoyable. And there’s a lot of fun to be had chasing down a Growlithe or swerving away from a Zubat. It doesn’t entirely mean that you will be able to see every Pokémon though, as I’ve had a few occasions where they’ve appeared right next to me, and started an immediate encounter. So there’s still some surprise-factor left in the game.
Another thing that I thought would take some time adjusting to, was the new paradigm around catching Pokémon. Instead of the previous process, where you would encounter a Pokémon in the wild, battle it, and then lower its HP so you could catch it easier. You simply encounter a Pokémon, and you can start throwing Pokéballs at it!
There’s still a level of complexity to it though, as there are better Pokéballs you can use to have a better chance of capturing a Pokémon, and also berries. They were in previous games, but the actual implementation in this game comes from Pokémon GO. Each berry has its own benefit, and I think they work well. Especially the Nanab Berry, which when used, makes Pokémon move less and therefore easier to catch.
That also leads me into the thing I most enjoy about the new way to catch Pokémon. It feels a lot more realistic because some Pokémon move more than others, which may require you to move around to get a good shot. In general, it appears as if they’re acting with a level of personality. At least enough to distinguish behaviours between different types of Pokémon.
Comparison With the Original
Most of the game seems the same as the original Kanto games. But there’s a few changes and some improvements. Such as the music. It features the same melodies, but in much higher quality, and what feels like more depth.
The map is the same, or at least so far it seems to be. I can’t imagine there being major differences later on, but at least so far I’ve only noticed one small change. And that’s a little Meowth sleeping above an entrance to something.
The way HM (hidden machines) work is different in this game. And for me, the changes are very welcome. In the past, a HM was taught to a Pokémon as a move, so it would be available in battle. But of course, it would take up space. Now they’re taught to your partner Pokémon (Pikachu or Eevee) and are worded slightly different, with Cut being replaced by a Chop Down ability.
I know it’s a fundamental part of the Nintendo Switch, but I have to comment on the fact that it’s just so easy to dock the console and have it just continue on a television. Pokémon also runs perfectly, which I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by either.
This is the single way I charge the device as well. As I tend to only play it in handheld mode if I’m commuting, or if someone else is watching television, and I’m just sat on the sofa playing it. So I haven’t actually seen a low battery warning more than twice I think.
I also noticed that the graphics were slightly better on the TV, and since looking at the tech specs, I can see that the Switch can output 1080p to a TV, but the handheld screen is only 720p. It doesn’t detract from the handheld display though, as I find it absolutely perfect.
Playing a Pokémon game on a 50″ television is something that may sound a bit silly at first, but it’s a very fun experience!
When I was looking to buy a Switch, this was something I honestly didn’t care for. As I expected it to be a “companion” controller, and would only add a minuscule amount of playability to the game.
I was proved wrong as soon as I started playing with it. Mainly because you can play the entire game with just the Pokéball, and even when it only has two buttons and a joystick!
There’s a lot of fun parts to it as well. It not only makes noises and vibrates as you play the game, but it also acts like a real Pokéball would do when you’re trying to capture a Pokémon. The lights flashes and changes colour like the one in-game, and it also makes realistic Pokéball noises.
It also comes with a Mew “inside”, which you can transfer immediately to the game!
My Overall Experience With How I’m Playing the Game
Okay, so you can probably tell that I’m really enjoying the game so far. But there are a few extra points that I’d like to make, that really add to how I played the game.
One thing I noticed, was that it seems as if there’s a more diverse selection of Pokémon that appear in the game. Of course, there’s still only the same 151 Pokémon, but they seem spread out a bit more. Maybe this is down to the fact that you “see” Pokémon before you start an encounter, and therefore are aware of it more. But it certainly adds to the realism aspect of the game.
Of course, you wouldn’t find a fish Pokémon running round in the grass, but I’ve seen Growlithe just south of Cerulean City, and also just north of Vermillion City, either side of the tunnel. That’s not something I’ve seen in previous games. I’ve also spotted Rhyhorn and Cubone in Rock Tunnel, which both surprised me! And I can’t remember where exactly, but I caught a Kangaskhan really early on, possibly in Rock Tunnel, but certainly before you get the fourth badge.
How I played the game was slightly skewed from my knowledge of the previous games, in that I know the entire map, and how everything is tied together. But there’s also a few things that are different in this game. So while I could play through quite quickly, I’m taking my time to experience everything as if I’d never played it before. Part of me wants to explore every single part of the game and trying to spot where it’s different. Another part of me wants to just enjoy the content. And at the same time, I just want to catch every Pokémon and complete my Pokédex.
Overall I felt that the game allows for various types of gameplay. Sometimes I’m sat down in front of a television and I want to really get into the game, and focus on every bit of the content, and other times I’m laying on the sofa and I just want to catch a few Pokémon with the Pokéball controller. Then there are times when I’m commuting to/from work, and I use it as a handheld device. It’s something that can be used wherever you are, no matter the situation, and that’s something I really enjoy about the console as a whole, and Pokémon specifically, as it’s a game that lends itself well to different contexts.
I haven’t finished the game yet, and although I got my first three badges in just a few days, I plan on playing the game at a slower pace. Especially as I aim to complete my Pokédex.
As a Pokémon GO player, I’m also interested seeing how they work together. As you’re able to transfer Pokémon GO to Pokemon Let’s Go, after you’ve reached Fuchsia City. But as I haven’t reached that, I don’t even know what it looks like. I’ll probably wait until I’m relatively complete though, as I don’t want to “cheat”.
What else is great, is that there’s also another Pokémon game planned for release in 2019! So hopefully I can completely finish the game off before it comes out. It will be interesting to see if that follows in the footsteps of Lets Go, or if it will continue where the traditional series left off.
Apart from Pokémon games, I’m also thinking about getting Zelda and Mario in the future. We’ll have to see how that turns out though.
Anyway, I better go now. The Silph Scope isn’t going to find itself!
While working on my latest update of Fin, I spent a bit of time playing with Apple’s new SKStoreReviewController API.
For those unfamiliar, this new API was announced with the early betas of iOS 10.3, and it went live with the 10.3 release last month. Though it isn’t the only approved way to prompt a customer to rate your app on the App Store yet, that is Apple’s ultimate intention. Like it or not, you’ll have to learn to work with this thing eventually, in other words. Unless you never prompt for reviews.
If you’re interested in the way apps now ask for reviews on iOS, or maybe just want to find out a developers perspective, Joe explains the pros and cons very nicely.
No, your eyes do not deceive you. Some of you may not know that we founded our company in 1997, but it’s true. We’re older than Facebook, older than Twitter, older than Google, and somehow still kickin’.
Every year is a little different, and last year was for sure — a little bit quieter on the software front (at least publicly), and a whole lot louder on the launch-of-a-major-multi-platform-video-game front.
Yes, it’s time: here’s a look back at 2016, and look forward to 2017.
It’s a really intriguing piece, and although it’s quite lengthy, I’m glad I read it. Panic is one of my favourite software companies (I love Firewatch), and Transmit 5 looks really impressive.
A lot of people write long year in review blog posts, so I also decided to do one as well. But it was also beneficial for myself, as it seems I did a lot more this year than I thought I did!
Qwiki is an app for macOS, that let’s you search directly and view Wikipedia articles, directly in your menu bar. It also has sharing and export options, but that’s basically what it is.
Now in version 1.3, the app has come a long way. And it is my first proper app, meaning I spent longer in development, I had a beta testing stage, and then I actually marketed the app. I learned a lot from this project, and it’s my best app to date.
I also started a weekly newsletter, which was fun when it started. But after a few weeks, I couldn’t think of anything interesting to write. So this was unfortunately stopped. Here is the first issue that went out, which I’m still pretty pleased with.
I also wrote about Apple’s “Hello Again” event, where they announced the pretty nifty MacBook Pro that I’m currently writing this post on. It was a while since I did a post like this, since covering loads of Apple events when I wrote AppRecap.
Although I started the year just coming back from Italy, I didn’t actually do much travelling in 2016.