New M3 Macs and some cool AI tools
Season 5 Episode 30
In this episode, I will catch up on some news items and discuss some excellent AI tools I’ve been using.
I share my opinion on Apple’s release of new hardware with M3 chips, noting that while the performance is impressive, it may be reaching a plateau of incremental improvements. I discuss the challenge of convincing users to upgrade their devices when their current ones perform well.
Additionally, I mention that Apple is raising the prices of some services as a strategy to boost profits.
I also share my experience with AI tools like Developer Duck for code refactoring and documentation, as well as MacWhisper for podcast transcription. I highlight the benefits of these tools and encourage developers to embrace and learn from them.
Show edited transcription
In this episode, I will catch up on some news items and I'm going to tell you about some excellent tools that I've been using. Let's go ahead and dive in.
First, yes, Apple released new hardware with some M3 chips. The name is no surprise, right?
I think it’s worth noting that- and this is my opinion- the performance is much better than you would expect every time somebody releases new hardware.
But in reality, when you look at the numbers, you start to wonder if we’re starting to reach that kind of plateau that you do with all computing things.
Eventually, they become more of a maintenance release than anything particularly stunning.
And what I mean by that is, at this point, any of the M chips, they’re all so good that you start to wonder, what will they do next year?
They need to release new chips every year, and that’s not just a knock on Apple; that’s everybody, right? Because they want to ship new units.
But the problem is, what do they do when, like phones, they’re all so good that people stop and say, you know what, I don’t need a new one every year?
What I’ve got is more than good enough, and that’s where I’m at, right? Not to say that if you offered me an M3 Mac, hey, I’ll take it. Anyone? Anybody? Nope? OK.
But my M1 Pro Max, my 14-inch, still performs above and beyond realistically anything I need.
And therefore, I don’t need to upgrade. I didn’t see the need to upgrade to an M2. As far as I can tell, there’s no reason for me to upgrade to an M3.
Again, that’s not to say that it’s not worth it. But when you have this situation where everything is so fast and so good, and it’s very kind of incremental builds every year, you ask yourself, OK, if I’ve got one of these, maybe I need to wait a few more years, few more cycles before I need another one.
And that’s kind of a problem for Apple. Because when you produce genuinely stunning hardware like the M chips, what do you do year after year to keep shipping those units?
We’re also seeing this with the iPhone and probably the iPad. When they’re all so good, what do you do every year to convince people to keep buying new ones and upgrading?
Because that’s really what we’re talking about at this point, I would imagine it’s more folks upgrading hardware than new users.
Now, of course, personally, hey, I’d love to see more people switch to Mac. That’s just my opinion. For the most part, right, especially when you’re talking development community, it’s really about upgrading.
And at what point do you say, you know, what I’ve got is more than good enough? And especially with all the cloud services and everything else, it’s more than good enough.
There is no wrong Mac choice out there. Even the lowest spec is genuinely more than enough for tasks, right? And that’s kind of where I’m at with this. So what are you going to do every year?
You need to keep shipping new chips because you’re a company, and you need to make money. And the same with phones and tablets and everything else.
It will be interesting to see. Now, the other thing to mention in the news, which relates to this, is that one thing you do is raise the price of some of the other services that you offer, some of the other hardware, whatever it is that people use.
You know that they’re locked in, and you can do it. And I don’t mean that in a critical way. I mean that from a business perspective, that’s what you do.
And that’s what Apple is doing. They are raising the price of some of their services- I think most of them. And, you know, two hit me in particular.
Well, realistically, one hits me because I have a family plan. I have Apple TV+ and all the services with the family plan.
But it’s more about getting the storage. And, you know, yes, I think Apple storage is expensive, just like most folks do. But, when something’s costing me about $23 a month and now Apple’s raising the price a couple of dollars to $25, I think it is approximately.
You know, that’s what you do. You raise the price of something else to try and offset where you’re seeing a bit of a dip, a bit of a flattening of the curve. Right. And I think that that’s what’s happening with iPhones.
Apple’s got to keep the investors happy, and I get that. So they have got to keep boosting those profits.
One way to do that is to raise the price of services.
And I have two opinions on that, one from a business perspective. Yeah, you have to do that right.
Everything gets more expensive over time. It’s just the way it is, unfortunately. You know, on the flip side, if I’m paying approximately twenty-three dollars for something and I need that service and value that service, I’ll be honest.
It’s not going to bother me greatly to pay twenty-five dollars. Right. I’m not going to suddenly say, ” Hey, I thought this was a fantastic service for twenty-three dollars, but I think you’re asking too much to make me pay twenty-five. ”
I mean, it’s just not going to happen. I get it. It’ll happen for some folks, but you were probably looking for ways to stop paying that anyway.
In my opinion, the price change is not that bad.
I’m OK with it because I greatly value those services.
Now, something else that I’ve been thinking about recently, too, is Xcode Cloud.
I am still not using it, and although many people I know have played with it, they’re not using it either.
If memory serves, I think the free tier plan will be expiring sometime soon.
I forget the specific date, but I wonder if they will extend that.
I would love to know if Xcode Cloud as a service is going as well as Apple hoped or better.
Or maybe it’s not going great, and they look at it and go, you know what, we need to keep incentivizing people to try it out.
It will be interesting to see. I haven’t used it enough to know whether it’s worth paying for.
If I were a big production house, it probably is. But the problem is you can go to so many other excellent services.
Bitrise is a very well-known competitor to Xcode Cloud.
Sometimes, when you look at these things, you realize that this third-party service is the financially better option.
There are other options out there. And many folks I know are also taking their old Macs and then using them as build machines or servers or both. And that’s another option right there, right?
If you are in a situation where you’re not allowed to let that source code wander out to a third-party service for whatever reason. That’s another option.
Find an old Mac you may have somewhere, turn it into your build machine, put it in a nicely ventilated closet, and forget about it.
Of course, eventually, you will hit the problem that it won’t be able to run the latest Xcode because, more and more, it needs the latest OS, and it’s all part of a conspiracy theory.
I’m just kidding. Or am I? Anyway, eventually, you won’t be able to upgrade that Mac, but if you’ve got an M chip, it’ll probably keep you going for a while.
That’s something else I might talk about there.
I also want to talk about tools I have used the past week.
I’ve been embracing AI a bit more, and I’ll put some links in the show notes.
It’s a fantastic tool, and I’ll sort of dangle the carrot here, as it were. I’m going to be talking to some folks soon, very soon, about some of these tools.
But Developer Duck is the name of the app. And I’ll put a link in the show notes.
And it works. It integrates nicely with Xcode. And I have been playing around with it for refactoring my code, just making my terrible code better.
Also, the surprising function that works well is that I can select some of my code and have it, say, document this for me.
It then goes away and analyzes it. It uses chat GPT. There is a free version and a paid version.
You know, as I always say, support your developers, right? Support your toolmakers.
The free version uses chat GPT 3.5, I believe, and the paid one uses four or whatever the latest version is.
But I’ve been using the free version to evaluate it for purposes of the podcast.
I will go all in on this because it does a beautiful job of documenting code.
I’m genuinely shocked at how good it is. It also does an excellent job of reformatting and generating my code.
I was playing around on the live stream the other day. You can find the live streams at compileswift.com/livestream or twitch.tv/compileswift.
We’re playing around with it. And it just so happens the app developer was watching, and we were having some fun with it.
I also purposefully took a bad, long if statement.
Right. We’ve all been there: if, if, if, if, and so on. You know how it goes.
And I took the whole thing and put it in Developer Duck and said, make this code better. And it did. Of course, you know where this is going.
It made a switch statement, simplified it, and created a function for the function call with the repetitive code.
And, you know, it doesn’t sound like a big deal. Yes, you may have eventually thought of it yourself.
But this thing did it in a couple of seconds. Right. The developer doc did it in a couple of seconds. I put my code in and away.
Well, OK. Full disclosure: I put ‘some’ of the code in. It didn’t work.
That was my fault. I should have trusted the tool and entered all the code because as soon as I did, it worked beautifully.
So, hey, that’s a user error right there. Right.
But these tools like developer doc and then they’re coming along nicely.
And it is very well worth you spending time looking at them. All the usual warnings, of course. Right.
Don’t just take the code. Put it in, and hope for the best.
Make sure you understand the code that you’re putting in. I’ll put that out there first of all.
Right. But also take advantage of these tools, even if you’re using them for documenting code.
It’s great. I mean, it did a beautiful job explaining exactly what my code did.
And, you know, six months from now, I’m going to be glad I did that.
I’m almost tempted to write some macro or something like, hey, document the code when I save the file.
I don’t know. We’ll see. But a brave new world. Right.
So that’s very interesting. Now, along with that, I have been playing with some other tools and another one that I’m using here.
Again, I’ll link the show notes to MacWhisper, which I can use to transcribe my podcasts like this one.
And what I do is I can either do it in real-time or I can give it an audio file, and it will transcribe it locally.
It does a stunning job of being accurate because you can choose different levels of complexity.
It downloads different models to your machine. And that’s how it’s able to do it locally.
Depending on how much space you have, you might want a two-gigabyte or three-gigabyte file or something else.
It is unbelievably accurate. Then I can do what I do, and I’ll probably make some videos or talk about this.
But I take that transcription; I put it in Bear Notes. Gosh, I love Bear Notes, don’t you?
And then I use another tool to say, ” Hey, make this documentation better. ”
And one of the ones I’m using now is, again, available on the beautiful, excellent Setapp service.
If you’re not using Setapp, I’m unsure what’s wrong with you. At this point, it offers hundreds of tools.
Just go to PeterWitham.com/setapp to get yourself started.
And I’m using one called Elphas. It’s an inline tool, and it lives in your system tray.
I can select some text, and you’ll see a little elephant icon. I can then tell it, ” Hey, make this text better in the voice of.” And I can pick whatever it is, you know, professional, friendly, viral, whatever.
And it does it incredible. And so it’s made transcriptions possible for the podcast.
And on top of that, my favorite audio software company of all time, Rogue Amoeba, shout out to Rogue Amoeba.
Have just released a transcription block that I am testing for you right now, as I’m recording this through Audio Hijack Pro.
There’s a transcription block. As I record locally on my machine, it will transcribe automatically.
Well, after I finished the recording right there in Audio Hijack. So, shout out to those folks. We’ll see how that goes.
So that’s just a few catch-up things. There’s some news, but I want to discuss some of these tools because they are super helpful to us as developers and content makers.
Things will only continue to get better. So, embracing them and learning ways to improve your life is the way to go.
I have some interviews that I think you will find genuinely fascinating, just like all the ones in the past. And I’m very excited about these.
So, if you haven’t already, follow the podcast. It costs you nothing. That’s the good news.
But if you want to express gratitude, you can support the podcast. To do so, go to PeterWitham.com/bmc.
Please buy me a coffee. I’d appreciate it. As you know, I love my coffee. I will speak to you in the next episode.
It’s been helpful. You know what to do, folks. I’ll see you then.
As mentioned in this episodeAudioHijack
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