There are a lot of factors to consider every time you start a new project. With the popularity of the iOS platform and the higher payment ability of Apple users, businesses focus their strategic efforts to deliver the highest quality products. Sometimes, programming languages live longer than you would expect. However, developers cannot keep using outdated approaches. They need to stay up to date about all the latest developments and trends, which sometimes means making tough choices. When it comes to iOS development, one of the biggest questions is whether you should use Objective-C or Swift.
History of Objective-C and Swift
Today, Objective-C is a language used to develop iPhone apps. However, this language was created back in the 1980s. Licensed by Steve Jobs’ NeXT Computer Inc., this language was used to develop NeXTStep frameworks. With time, it became the basis for many iconic products created by Apple. Objective-C is based on two languages: Smalltalk and C. It uses syntax from the C language for non-object-oriented operations and syntax from Smalltalk for object-oriented operations. One of the main advantages of Objective-C is that this language isn’t new and developers have tested it for many years.
Swift was released by Apple in 2014. According to Tim Cook, the new language was downloaded more than 11 million times within a month after its release. In 2015, Swift became the fastest growing language, according to the TIOBE Index. This language is free and available for everyone so there’s no surprise that it quickly became popular among iOS developers. Swift 5.0 was released in 2019. It has a stable binary interface that works well on different Apple platforms, including macOS, tvOS, and watchOS.
After the release of Swift 5, its core libraries were integrated into iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS releases. Therefore, apps created for these platforms can now be smaller due to included libraries. The stable application binary interface also allows Apple to provide support across platforms. Nevertheless, Apple continues to support Objective-C so many developers need to make a choice.
What language is more cost-effective for businesses and easier to work with? Here are some good reasons to choose Swift over Objective-C.
The number one advantage to choosing Swift is arguably because of its clean syntax, which makes it easier to read and write. The number of code lines needed to implement an option on Swift is a lot fewer than for Objective-C. The reason for this is because Swift drops many legacy conventions, such as semicolons to end lines or parentheses that surround conditional expressions inside if/else statements. Another major change is that method calls do not sit inside each other resulting in a bracket mess. Instead, method and function calls in Swift use the comma-separated list of parameters within parentheses. As a result, the code is cleaner with a simplified syntax.
It’s not possible for Objective-C to evolve without C evolving first. Contrarily, Swift does not have these dependencies, which makes it a lot easier to maintain. C requires programmers to maintain two code files in order to improve the build time and efficiency of the code, which also carries over to Objective-C.
Swift, however, drops this two-file requirement, combining the Objective-C header (.h) and implementation files (.m) into a single code file (.swift). In Objective-C, you have to manually synchronize method names and comments between files. While with Swift, programmers can spend more time creating app logic and improving the quality of their code, comments, and features that are supported.
3. Safer Platform
In the competitive mobile app marketplace, developing a secure app should be a priority. Swift’s syntax and language constructions exclude the several types of mistakes possible in Objective-C. This stability means that there will be fewer crashes and cases of problematic behavior. It doesn’t prevent programmers from writing bad code, but rather makes it less likely to make mistakes. This adds an extra layer of quality control during development.
Swift takes the nil code, and generates compiler error when programmers write bad code. With Swift, you can compile, and fix the errors while writing the code, which is not possible with Objective-C. As a result, Swift works better and faster compared to Objective-C when it comes to bug testing. All this gives reason to consider Swift as a safe and secure programming language.
4. Less Code & Less Legacy
With Objective-C, there are many issues that cause app crashes. Swift provides code that is less error-prone because of its inline support for manipulating text strings and data. Additionally, classes aren’t divided into two parts; the interface and the implementation. This cuts the number of files in the project in half, which makes it much easier to handle.
Swift ultimately requires less coding efforts when writing repetitive statements or causing string manipulation. When working with Objective-C, you’ll need to combine two strings which make it lengthy. With Swift, you just need to add the ‘+’ sign to join two strings.
Swift also provides various speed advantages during development, in turn, saving on costs. A complex object sort, for example, will run 3.9x faster than an implementation of the same algorithm in Python. That’s also better than Objective-C, which is 2.8x faster than the Python version.
Its performance approaches the one of C++ which is considered the fastest algorithm calculation arithmetics. In December 2014, Primate Labs published a report on Swift and C++ performance. Apple has made it evident that they’re dedicated to improving the speed at which Swift can run app logic.
6. Swift Supports Dynamic Libraries
Dynamic libraries are executable chunks of code that can be linked to an app. This feature allows current Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language as it evolves over time. Dynamic libraries in Swift are directly uploaded to the memory, cutting down on the initial size of the app and ultimately increasing app performance.
7. ‘Playgrounds’ Encourages Interactive Coding
Playgrounds is a feature that enables programmers to test out a new algorithm without having to create an entire app. Apple has added inline code execution to Playgrounds to help programmers create a chunk of code or write an algorithm while receiving feedback along the way. This feedback loop can improve the speed at which code can be written with the help of data visualizations. Playgrounds and Swift together suggest Apple’s efforts to make app development easier and more approachable.
Swift was announced open-source in 2015, which opens up the language to the potential to be used across a variety of platforms and for backend infrastructure. Open-sourcing Swift means that Apple will be able to get feedback from the community to make improvements on a consistent basis as independent developers contribute to the success of the language. Not only has Swift taken off successfully because it’s well structured and designed, but also because many developers have supported it.
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