iOS Development With Swift – Is It Worth It?
It was for quite a long time that Apple operating systems for mobile phones, tablets, and computers were mainly developed with Objective-C. The year 2014 had flipped everything around with the presentation of Swift – a modern, faster, and simpler to implement a programming language. It’s been 7 years since Swift 1.0 release and now iOS developers are expecting Swift 5.5 version.
Swift has proved to be a viable alternative to Objective-C for many projects and now more and more companies are building their iOS apps with Swift. In this article, we’ll dive into Swift’s details and find out when to use this programming language and if Objective-C is still relevant.
What Is Swift?
Swift is a programming language developed by Apple Inc. and used for building native apps which run on the Apple and Linux operating systems. While Linux is a stand-alone platform, Apple operating systems include a whole line of solutions like iOS for mobile phones, macOS for computers, iPadOS for tablets, watchOS for smartwatches, and tvOS for Apple TV. Therefore, there is a wide range of software applications that can be developed with Swift.
Swift first appeared in 2014 as an alternative solution to Objective-C, which was omnipresent on all Apple’s platforms. Since its introduction, Swift started quickly gaining popularity and in 2015 it became open source. Many developers admit that this programming language is much simpler to code and easier to read.
Today, Swift reaches top positions in the international charts on programming languages. For example, TIOBE Index for July 2021 has ranked Swift the 16th among the top 20 programming languages. Whereas in PYPL PopularitY of Programming Language Index Swift charted at number 10, and Stack Overflow Developer survey mentioned Swift as the 9th most loved development language.
In its recent survey, software developer Andrew Madsen examined the top 110 apps in the App store with a Python script for leveraging Swift in their source code. The developer found out that 42% of the top 110 apps are developed with the Swift programming language to a greater or lesser extent. The apps with the largest percentage of Swift-based code appeared to be Walmart for iOS with 80% of Swift, Microsoft Outlook and Postmates use 67% of the language, Tinder has 47% of it, and Starbucks includes 35%.
Certainly, a much larger number of world-known brands build their apps with Swift and it’s expected to continue growing in popularity in the near future.
The Pros and Cons of Swift Programming Language
As any development language, Swift has its own pros and cons. Despite some shortcomings, many developers still prefer implementing Swift more for quick and effective iOS development than any other programming languages. Let’s have a closer look at the advantages and drawbacks of Swift.
- Open-source availability
Swift is an open-source development language. It means that it’s available for everyone who wants to create iOS apps with it. Swift developers can contribute to language development, sharing their solutions on bug fixing, best pieces of code, and various language improvement ideas. In just several years after becoming an open-source solution, Swift acquired a strong and supportive community and an extensive number of third-party development tools.
- Fast development
For quick app creation, Swift provides software developers with LLVM tools, a set of modular and reusable compiler and toolchain technologies. These tools make the assembly code compile to the machine code, resulting in faster code processing.
Moreover, according to Apple Inc. Swift is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C and up to 8.4 times faster than Python.
- Simple to read, easy to maintain
Swift has a simple and expressive syntax and grammar. It’s much easier to read and write than Objective-C. Software developers need to write less code to create the same tasks in Swift rather than in Objective-C. This results in faster coding, rapid problem solving, and easy maintenance due to a fewer number of errors in the code.
Besides that, Swift includes an Automatic Memory Counting (ARC) feature. It tracks and handles the memory usage in the developed apps, excluding the necessity to do it manually. This way, Swift automates the routine processes of memory management, alleviating and accelerating the development process many times.
Swift helps developers to quickly define and eradicate bugs before code compilation. To prevent a code from crashing, it initializes variables before their use, checks arrays and integers for overflow, and manages memory with ARC automatically. Moreover, Swift has improvements in its nil pointer which prevents its objects to be nil by default. This results in a cleaner and safer code that doesn’t lea