Uses This

A collection of nerdy interviews asking people from all walks of life what they use to get the job done.

A picture of Matt Gemmell

Matt Gemmell

Mac and iOS developer

Posted in developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Matt Gemmell, and I design and create software (for myself, and for others). I help companies to make their apps easy to use, and as simple as possible. My clients include everyone from independent developers, to major corporations including Apple. I speak about designing software at various industry conferences, and I write for various tech magazines (including a monthly column in Tap! magazine for iOS).

My blog is at and I'm mattgemmell on both Twitter and App.Net.

What hardware do you use?

Almost anything with an Apple logo. My main machine is a 27" iMac, which I renew every two years at the maximum available spec. I use an external display as a second screen; my current one is a 24" Samsung SyncMaster.

My usual input device is a Wacom Intuos5 (pen and touch) tablet, which I use as a full-time multi-touch trackpad, and for pen input in Photoshop and Illustrator. My keyboard of choice is an Apple Wireless, and I have several spares. I also have a number of Apple Magic Trackpads, which are great but which have been replaced by the Intuos5. I've never liked Apple's mice, and the Magic Mouse is no exception. When I do need a mouse, I use a Logitech Performance Mouse MX, of which I have at least two generations.

We have something of a MacBook museum in the house, but my favourite is the 11" MacBook Air. It's the perfect satellite and travel machine, and ideal for conferences. I'll keep buying them as long as Apple keeps making them. The screen on the Retina MacBook Pro is of course wonderful too. I have a mount that lets me use the MacBooks when I'm on the exercise bike in my office.

As an iOS developer, I have an assortment of iPads and iPhones. My carry-at-all-times phone is whatever the latest iPhone is at the time, currently a black iPhone 5 (and there's a white one here too, if you prefer).

My most important "hardware", though, is my stationery. I use large softcover squared-paper Moleskines, and Staedtler fineliners, and you should too.

And what software?

I code for Mac and iOS in Xcode, I write (notes, plans, blog posts and scripts) in BBEdit, and I design in Photoshop (and very occasionally Illustrator, for the vector tools). I also write long-form fiction in my spare time, for which there's no better tool in the world than Scrivener.

On the Mac, my Twitter client is Tweetbot, and my App.Net client is Kiwi. I also sit on a private IRC channel throughout each working day with some of my closest friends from my university days, and I use Linkinus as my IRC client. Other than that, my choices are the defaults: Safari, Mail, Messages, Terminal, and Calendar. I use iTunes under continuous protest. My feed-reader at the moment is Feedly, via Safari.

I speak at a number of conferences and events each year, and I always use Keynote (on all three platforms). Life's too short for PowerPoint.

On the iPhone, I also use Tweetbot for Twitter, and I use Felix for App.Net. I love Drafts for jotting quick notes, and I have the Feedly app for my news. I also keep the Kindle app handy (at the moment, I'm re-reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, for probably the twentieth time). ReaddleDocs is also a great all-in-one utility for local and remote file access and reading.

On iPad, I again use Tweetbot for Twitter, and Netbot for App.Net. I really like Elements for writing, and I keep Drafts around too. When I need to get into my servers, I use Prompt. I sometimes use an iPad as an input device for Photoshop, via Adobe Nav, alongside my Wacom. I also sketch in Paper sometimes, using a Jot Pro stylus. I subscribe to a few Newsstand publications, and also keep the Kindle app and the Marvel Comics app handy.

What would be your dream setup?

I'd love a 27" Retina iMac, and an external Apple display of the same type, but I think that's a year or two away. I expect Retina versions of the 11" and 13" MacBook Air this year, which I will eagerly buy. Other than that, just the usual request: make regular-sized iPads thinner and lighter, but no less rigid. The iPad mini is a good start.

Oh, and I'd love to own a Wacom Cintiq (at least 21", I suppose), but I know I'd rarely use it.