Apple introduced Swift as “Objective-C without C”, when it launched the new iOS language in June 2014, after 4 years of research and development. Swift can be used in sync with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks and other Apple products based on Objective-C code.
Its Apple’s super-smart move to tide over the inadequacies of the Objective-C and speed up development of iOS based apps to beat competition from Android apps.
So, if you are to develop a new apps project targeting iOS, you might be wondering whether to adopt the ‘Swift’ route or fall back on the legacy Objective-C. Before I talk in length about Swift, let’s look at its origins, from the perspective of Objective-C.
Swift was sculpted from Objective- C, which owed its origin to Smalltalk, an object oriented language developed in 1983.
Smalltalk was ahead of its time, and Objective-C replaced it because it allowed more of code reuse than Smalltalk; this hastened coding and it also could be compiled with GCC, thereby making it easier for use on a different hardware.
But its various drawbacks like odd syntax filled with brackets and long variable names, make this language look outdated to developers who’ve had a taste of modern-day languages.
Why Swift codes are safer and faster?
One of the key features of Swift is type inference, which makes it type -safe. Swift is a strongly-typed language by default and its type inference feature reduces code length. The default type setting is always in place unless specified by a special keyword. This prevents false coding due to faulty input.
Also, the memory management feature always ensures the right coding track and red flags any coding move that is away from the intended course.
Writing a Swift app is easy. With no need to import references for setting-up the main function, coding is easier and faster. Most of the OSX or iOS user reference is handled by libraries that also speed up app development.
Since Swift was born out of Objective-C, developers can use Swift pieces of codes inside Objective –C and vice versa. This smooth interface between the two helps exploit the best patterns and practices from both, while keeping code layout native to Swift or Objective –C.
Swift Apps are compatible with the latest iOS 8 and OSX Yosemite and the previous iOS7 and OSX Mavericks, respectively because Xcode has a small Swift runtime library embedded within the app’s bundle; this allows the app to use consistent version of Swift to run on past, present and even future OS releases
Quick development and shorter time to market
Quick development is one great benefit of Swift and it owes that to ‘Playground’. This is a live rendering feature which developers use with ease to see behind the scenes in real-time during code development.
This feature overrides the need to compile written code into software to test it, which takes time and can be incredibly frustrating if there are bugs that prevent the compiling process from finishing. The debugging runs add to the woes of developers, increase the time of the app to the market and inflate development costs.
Live rendering allows developers to speed up app development from the concept phase to final release.
Quicker updates and faster release of new versions
With a simplified code, its reuse becomes seamless. Developers spend less time on it and can easily push out updates and new versions of apps with greater frequency. Think of the benefits when a suite of apps is used by a large number of users. In this case, developers will definitely want to go the Swift way because they don’t want to be bothered by a lengthy process of bug fixes, which invariably leads to slowing development of the next version of the app. Swift will save two valuable resources- time and man-hours.
Fewer App Crashes
For developers, the last thing they would like to see is their app crashing and if that happens repeatedly then all the coding hard work goes down the drain. Here, the memory management feature of Swift comes to their rescue because it takes care of all minor programming errors; this helps prevent app crashes.
Swift will Appeal to Developers. Why?
Apple says Swift will appeal more to younger developers because of its lesser learning curve as compared to, Objective-C. With Apple predicting that programs written in Swift will run 73 percent faster than programs written in Objective-C, a large number of aspiring developers will take up Swift for app development in their bid to create competitive apps in a shorter time period.
In a way, Swift will speed up app development. However, there is one downside – a large number of less-experienced developers will join the iOS app development fray and create applications with more coding errors and lesser-user experiences. However, that will happen initially and won’t last long.
The Apple App store will no longer remain out of reach of developers who found the Objective-C learning curve too steep to take on.
In a way, it will open up the App store to new talented coders, who will over time, encouraged by the interactive coding development features like ‘Playground” will master Swift and create a plethora of awe-aspiring apps that will flood the App store.