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iOS Development- cheapest mac?

Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
edited February 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
I have a very simple app to code, (and 1 year of C++ experience...a little worried there, but the app is not too crazy but I think it will sell!) But does the dev kit require a certain level of OS? If so which one? What's the cheapest mac I can code on?
From the website- it looks like I'm looking at 99/year as as single developer. Is that right or are there other costs too?

Sharp10r on
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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    The cheapest mac is a Mac Mini.

    I have a fully loaded Mac Mini from the previous generation which is still not as good as the base model current generation Mac Mini. I do 100% of my work on it.

    So with a Mac Mini and a monitor you are good to go.

    100 dollars for the developer fee


    and realistically you do need to test on actual devices. there are many major differences between the runtime conditions of the simulator and the actual devices. At least one real testing device is almost required.

    Jasconius on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Do the devices used need to be under the same apple account or could I just tell my friend to bring his iPad by to test something? If I need to buy one I will, but I'm hoping to write and test this in a cost effective manner.

    Sharp10r on
  • zilozilo Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    You should budget some money for an objective-c book or two. It's nothing at all like C++.

    zilo on
  • MonoxideMonoxide Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited February 2011
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    Do the devices used need to be under the same apple account or could I just tell my friend to bring his iPad by to test something? If I need to buy one I will, but I'm hoping to write and test this in a cost effective manner.

    You need to sync up the device with your developer provisioning profile, which is linked to your Apple account. You can link your friend's iPad up with your developer profile if you want to, but you'll want to remember to delete them after you're finished or he's eventually going to get confusing messages about your profile expiring.

    It's worth it to point out that if you're going to buy a Mac Mini and an iPad to develop this iOS app with the thought in mind that the money from app sales will pay for them after the fact, you should probably not do this. The Gold Rush mentality is long gone from the App Store, and unless you have some serious marketing weight or a really clever idea, you aren't guaranteed to make a ton of money (or any money) from App sales.

    iOS programming is pretty awesome and there's a ton of room for growth and innovation on the platform, but don't rush into this thinking it's going to get you rich. It won't.

    Monoxide on
  • Baron DirigibleBaron Dirigible Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Jasconius wrote: »
    The cheapest mac is a Mac Mini.
    The cheapest Mac is a used Mac. Which, yes, will probably end up being a Mac mini.

    If you don't trust eBay / Craigslist / whatever, Apple have a refurb section on their online store where they sell returned hardware (and possibly ex-display?). The machines are all tested, repackaged and sold with a year's warranty.

    I'm also going to echo Monoxide's warning about not expecting for this to make you rich or even pay itself off. The way you say "a very simple app" is also setting off alarm bells, because, uh, different people have very different ideas of what makes something "simple", and "simple" things can often turn out to be very, very, very difficult to do well. But hey! It's your time and money, and there are worse gambles to make.

    Baron Dirigible on
  • iMattiMatt Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    it's also worth pointing out that Apple won't pay you a penny until your sales reache a certain value (I think approx 150 bucks - it's been 2 years since I released my app) - if you get some sales but don't reach that target you never see the money! Damn you Apple - where's my 50 bucks!!!!!

    iMatt on
  • BoomShakeBoomShake The Engineer Columbia, MDRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    But does the dev kit require a certain level of OS?

    Unlike the stupid large set of editions with each new version of Windows, there is only one Mac OS edition with each iteration.

    BoomShake on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Thanks for the tips! I did the math and think that it would take about 1600 sales to break even. I believe in the app idea, so I may risk it (the purchases would be a sacrifice right now but not breaking the bank). Maybe I'll look into Android development? Or partnering with a dev willing to go 50/50 with me who already has a mac? Hmm.

    Sharp10r on
  • PeregrineFalconPeregrineFalcon Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    A cheap Macbook with a busted screen is a good way to save on costs, picked one up for $200 not too long ago.

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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    It's really hard to get paid apps selling. Just an FYI.

    What is the category of app you are trying to make?

    The only anecdotes about paid apps I have heard that sort "sell on their own" without some sort of marketing or blog coverage are ones in the Productivity/Business sector. I have a Productivity app that is 10 times more expensive than my 1 dollar game and the Productivity app sells 10 times better with no marketing budget.

    You might want to consider in-app purchase so that you can give the app away for free, but to disable ads, or enable a crucial feature, they have to pay the dollar.

    Otherwise, most people will not buy an app unless it comes recommended or they have few other alternatives.

    Also I'm not sure if you are remembering that you don't get that whole dollar.

    You get 70% of revenue. And then you'll pay taxes on that 70%.

    So at the end of the day you're really only making about 60 cents on the dollar.

    I'm not saying this to discourage you, only because it looks like you're calculating a financial leap of faith, and spending 1.5 grand on development equipment and banking on getting it back in any sort of reasonable time frame with no experience in the language or framework is pretty close to a bad idea.

    You might want to investigate something like Corona SDK, or maybe MonoTouch, something that lets you do some semblance of mobile development without the upfront hardware commitments.

    Jasconius on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Thanks for the advice! An old friend of mine has an (old) Macbook, but BoomShake pointed out that any Mac will do so I guess I'm good there, lowering the total investment to $100. Sounds risky, but then- what if my idea takes off? There are so few ideas out there that haven't been made yet- and I think I have a useful one... for $100 I'll have to pull the trigger and take the risk.
    I'll also look into Corona and MonoTouch. Looks like Corona may be the better match, but really- the concept is so simple (yet useful) I'm hoping we can develop it without it (I could write this in C++ or in Access DB now, but haven't written anything in YEARS).
    As for the genre: it's either financial or lifestyle, it's so hard to say when it's something new...

    Sharp10r on
  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Don't think you'll make money off of the app, but getting one to market is goign to help nearly any job you apply for.

    Improvolone on
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  • vapid1vapid1 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2011
    Just because you build it, doesnt mean people will come. Define what you mean by having your idea "take off"?

    What is your idea exactly? The app store has a lot apps and i'd be surprised if someone hasnt already made a quality version of your app and probably made zero money from it. And if its truly something unique, its probably so niche or confusing that you will make practically no money off it.

    And I dont see how this would help in applying for a job. Any douche can put out an app these days, unless your app has sold in impressive numbers employers might just be like "meh, we'd rather hire a dude with a more proven track record"

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Proof of work completed in market>stuff that's just sitting around, I suspect?

    Improvolone on
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  • corky842corky842 Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Does it have to be a fairly new mac? You could get a G3 imac (the big colorful CRT kind) for stupidly cheap.

    corky842 on
  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    corky842 wrote: »
    Does it have to be a fairly new mac? You could get a G3 imac (the big colorful CRT kind) for stupidly cheap.

    iOS development is incompatible with PPC Macs.

    admanb on
  • oniianoniian Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    The cheapest way may be a virtual Mac OS using VirtualBox on your existing machine, if your existing machine can support virtualization.

    There are some how-to guides out there if you Google it.

    oniian on
  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    And I dont see how this would help in applying for a job. Any douche can put out an app these days, unless your app has sold in impressive numbers employers might just be like "meh, we'd rather hire a dude with a more proven track record"

    Getting something approved for the App Store shows that you can ship something that has minimal bugs and some number of completed features. That puts you above a significant percentage of related college graduates, for any job, and experienced software developers with no specific iOS development experience, for iOS dev jobs.

    admanb on
  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    http://www.gainsaver.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?cICode=121564&CID=103&SID=MB138LL/A

    This was the first hit in google for a used intel mac mini. $233


    It would be enough to get the job done.

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  • vapid1vapid1 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    And I dont see how this would help in applying for a job. Any douche can put out an app these days, unless your app has sold in impressive numbers employers might just be like "meh, we'd rather hire a dude with a more proven track record"

    Getting something approved for the App Store shows that you can ship something that has minimal bugs and some number of completed features. That puts you above a significant percentage of related college graduates, for any job, and experienced software developers with no specific iOS development experience, for iOS dev jobs.

    True, and I suppose it shows you can follow strict guidelines by playing up how hard it is to get something approved by Apple (which actually isnt as hard as people bitch about).

    But I think it totally varies on the app itself.

    vapid1 on
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  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    admanb wrote: »
    And I dont see how this would help in applying for a job. Any douche can put out an app these days, unless your app has sold in impressive numbers employers might just be like "meh, we'd rather hire a dude with a more proven track record"

    Getting something approved for the App Store shows that you can ship something that has minimal bugs and some number of completed features.

    This isn't really true. Although if you can get an employer that believes this lie, then that would also be nice.

    Apple's approval process for overall app quality in terms of bugs and stability has gone down sharply as the platform has grown.

    Especially for free or very cheap apps.

    The less expensive your app is, the less it will be looked at for quality concerns.

    I have app store apps on my iPad right now that crash outright, as in, can't even get to the main menu.

    Jasconius on
  • vapid1vapid1 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2011
    Employers will believe a bunch of shit when it comes to tech.

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  • ImprovoloneImprovolone Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I know that if you were applying at my office (even for a non-tech job), something random and neat like this would really help. Not every office hires you for ONE. SINGLE. SKILL.

    Improvolone on
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  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    http://www.gainsaver.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?cICode=121564&CID=103&SID=MB138LL/A

    This was the first hit in google for a used intel mac mini. $233


    It would be enough to get the job done.

    I was looking this up a month or two ago, and gainsaver has some horrifically bad reviews on shopping websites

    Also, one thing to mention is that the $99/year developer's account isn't necessary to get the xcode/dev kits, it's just necessary to deploy an app (definitely to put on the app store, possibly to test on iphones/etc instead of just on the mac)... it's vaguely hidden on the signup page, but you can create a developer account for free

    Gdiguy on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Gdiguy wrote: »
    http://www.gainsaver.com/Catalog/Detail.aspx?cICode=121564&CID=103&SID=MB138LL/A

    This was the first hit in google for a used intel mac mini. $233


    It would be enough to get the job done.

    I was looking this up a month or two ago, and gainsaver has some horrifically bad reviews on shopping websites

    Also, one thing to mention is that the $99/year developer's account isn't necessary to get the xcode/dev kits, it's just necessary to deploy an app (definitely to put on the app store, possibly to test on iphones/etc instead of just on the mac)... it's vaguely hidden on the signup page, but you can create a developer account for free
    :^: Thanks. That at least will delay that investment. And, I'm actually in a completely different field, so having an app on my resume (or even a patent I will hopefully have approved from another project) will mean nothing in my field.
    OK so whatever cheap mac I use- it has to be an intel processor? My friend's is too old.

    Sharp10r on
  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah I'm going to vote against doing a hackintosh or virtual mac...

    I played around with them after they switched to intel and had nothing but trouble. The only platform I ever saw one work on was a netbook, and that wouldn't be the ideal coding solution

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  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    :^: Thanks. That at least will delay that investment. And, I'm actually in a completely different field, so having an app on my resume (or even a patent I will hopefully have approved from another project) will mean nothing in my field.
    OK so whatever cheap mac I use- it has to be an intel processor? My friend's is too old.

    Correct.

    admanb on
  • wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I just came across this site: MacInCloud. It might be a cheap way to get started without having to lay out the price of a mac up front.

    wmelon on
  • vapid1vapid1 __BANNED USERS regular
    edited February 2011
    Lots of red flags. Have you LOOKED exhaustively to see if your app idea is out there? Is someone already doing it better than you can? You seem delusional.

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  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Lots of red flags. Have you LOOKED exhaustively to see if your app idea is out there? Is someone already doing it better than you can? You seem delusional.

    What has red flags? The OP or that Mac in cloud thing?


    Also, why does the OP seem delusional? At no point has he said "I want to quit my job and start an app company..!"

    He's saying he wants to design an app, and what is the cheapest entry cost point to do that. It's pretty simple actually.

    edit: wmelon I just googled reviews for macincloud and mac in cloud and mac cloud services and got nothing for that site. It looks interesting, have you known anyone who has used it in the past?

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  • admanbadmanb unionize your workplace Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    He seems overly optimistic, but I think it's unfair to say "delusional."

    admanb on
  • wmelonwmelon Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    edit: wmelon I just googled reviews for macincloud and mac in cloud and mac cloud services and got nothing for that site. It looks interesting, have you known anyone who has used it in the past?

    I couldn't find anything either. I signed up for a free 24 hour trial though, so I guess we'll see what it's like. It could be very useful for me if it works pretty well.

    wmelon on
  • AridholAridhol Daddliest Catch Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I think the OP is hopeful, not overly optimistic or delusional. Why would you put effort into something you didn't believe was worthwhile? They aren't saying "I'll be a millionaire in no time!"

    To the OP I'd say if it's something you'd have fun learning/doing then go for it and don't bank on being an angry birds success. I'd also agree that a used mac is the way to go, they can be found very cheap on craigslist etc..

    Aridhol on
  • JasconiusJasconius sword criminal mad onlineRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I think the underlying point we were trying to make is that, if 1500 dollars is a critical major spending decision, then you might not want to do it unless you have a gameplan to make it back.

    The OP was written as if he made the assumption that there was just a certain price point he had to sneak in under in order to feel like he was going to make his money back.

    Jasconius on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah, you all convinced me to NOT invest 1k+ in a Mac, but rather to do this on the cheap. Only investing what I can afford to lose! But- yes, I am optimistic (I believe in the concept), will have fun learning to code again (on the side as a hobby- this will never be a profession for me) and no, I am not delusional. But- when my app is out, hopefully it will help people save a few bucks, make a part of every users life a little easier, and make me a few cents a download! Cheers!

    Sharp10r on
  • GdiguyGdiguy San Diego, CARegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Yeah, as long as you think of it as a hobby with a tiny chance of winning the lottery, you'll be fine

    Good luck with the mac hunting; I was thinking of doing a similar thing a month back, and even macbooks with broken screens were going for $400+ (seriously, it's nuts), so I eventually decided to borrow from a friend

    Gdiguy on
  • amateurhouramateurhour One day I'll be professionalhour The woods somewhere in TennesseeRegistered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Hey it hasn't been brought up but are you still in school at all? If so your campus might have a mac lab that you can use to work on your project.

    Also if you've got a friend that goes to school you might be able to work something out with them to use their lab access (legitimately, they'd need to be in there with you I'm sure, with permission from the school)

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  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Great idea! I'm not at a school with a mac lab, (finishing my last semester at a small graduate school) but make annual donations to a small local college that might allow me access! I'll have to look into this option.

    Sharp10r on
  • XaviarXaviar Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    Sharp10r wrote: »
    Great idea! I'm not at a school with a mac lab, (finishing my last semester at a small graduate school) but make annual donations to a small local college that might allow me access! I'll have to look into this option.

    Careful with this. The campuses in my area at least have in their tech policy (which you have to agree to and sign off on to use the lab) that anything created in the lab for commercial use on their equipment is theres and not yours. As in, you can do things for academic purposes like learning or filling out your resume, but not for selling.

    Xaviar on
  • Sharp10rSharp10r Registered User regular
    edited February 2011
    I found a partner. Amazingly, a friend of mine who owns an engineering company told me he bought a Mac Mini and Developer kit. Things are going well!
    So- how does protection of IP work on this? With dollar apps, do people copyright small apps? Where can I go to read about what is protectable?

    Sharp10r on
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