Does It Make Sense to Shift to Swift from Objective-C for an iOS App Developer?

In June 2014, Apple announced a new programming language called Swift for iOS, OS X and watchOS application development. In June 2015, Apple revealed its plan to make the programming language open source, and announced Swift 2.0 with a number of new language features and refinements. The latest versions of iOS and Xcode also come with several features to help programmers to write iOS apps in the new programming language. A number of recent reports have highlighted that a steady decline in the popularity of Objective-C, along with the rapidly growing popularity of Swift.

In addition to being an object-oriented programming language, Swift is expressive, powerful, modern and easy-to-use. It seems similar to popular web scripting languages like Ruby and Python. But it is designed with a number of features provided by other modern programming languages. Many beginners even find it easier to learn Swift than Objective-C. At the same time, Swift also allows developers to write iOS apps in a parallel scripting language. There are also a number of reasons why many iOS developers have switched to Swift from Objective-C.

Why iOS App Developer Must Switch from Objective-C to Swift?

Compatible with Objective-C
A large percentage of the existing iOS apps are written in Objective-C. So many programmers feel that they cannot add new features to their existing apps using Swift. But Swift is fully interoperable with Objective-C. The Swift code can seamlessly coexist with the Objective-C files within a single project. Thus, programmers can use Swift to write new iOS apps as well as updating the existing apps written in Objective-C.

Easier to Learn
Many blogger have stated that Swift is simpler and easier to learn that Objective-C. So the Objective-C programmers are not required to invest additional time and effort to learn and use the new programming language. Apple has launched Swift after adequate research and testing. So it helps programmers to overcome some of the major shortcomings of Objective-C. At the same time, the new programming language enables them to create iOS apps rapidly, while focusing on user experience.

Reduced Coding Time
As a modern programming language, Swift enables users to write, debug and maintain iOS apps without writing lengthy and complex code. It is designed with several modern language features like generics, optionals, tuples and closures. It further takes advantage of advanced code analysis in LLVM to boost the application’s performance. At the same time, it allows developers to create robust apps by accessing the Cocoa Touch frameworks fully.

Several New Syntax Features
Apple has designed Swift as a complete replacement for both C and Objective-C. In addition to being completely object-oriented, Swift also supports types, operators, flow controls and other features of low-level programming languages. At the same time, it also comes with a number of new syntax features that help programmers to write more expressive code, while maintaining consistency throughout the programming language.

For instance, programmers now have option to write cleaner and more secure Swift code using syntax features like unified keyword naming rules for functions and methods; extended pattern matching for if clauses and for loop; and default implementation of protocol extensions. They can further effectuate control flow through do, defer, guard, and repeat syntaxes.

Safer to Use
Swift further boosts the application’s performance and functionality by eliminating a wide variety of crashes, bugs and security holes. It enhances type safety by providing a type interface, managing memory automatically through ARC, and restricting direct access to pointers. Also, the programming language is designed with several safety related features including mandatory initialization of variables, preventing overflows through automatic bounds checking, allowing conditionals to break by default. Thus, developers can use replace Objective-C with the new programming language to create more secure and stable iOS apps.

Interactive Playgrounds
Xcode 7 comes with a feature called Playgrounds that allows developers to write a line of command and see the results instantaneously. It further allows developers to use Timeline Assistant to check the code running in loops or over time. They can simply add a line of code to the Timeline Assistant and monitor its progress. Thus, the developers can write Swift code in Playgrounds to identify and fix all flaws. After perfecting the code they can move it into the project. The feature makes it easier for them to use new APIs, check new Swift syntax, create new tests, and design new algorithms.

Focus on Great User Experience
Swift enables beginners to create iOS apps without putting extra time and effort. At the same time, it also makes it easier for experienced developers to create apps by focusing on great user experience. As the developers have already built a variety of iOS apps, they can use their experience and expertise to boost the app’s user experience. Swift makes it easier for experienced developers to assess user experience by creating rapid prototypes of the application. The shorter feedback loops during both development and testing phase will further contribute towards improving the app’s quality.

A New Error Handling Model
The updated version of Swift comes with an advanced error handling model. The new error handling is designed with clear and expressive syntax to catch and throw errors more effectively. It further allows developers to describe error cases clearly by creating their own custom error types. The advanced error handling model works seamlessly with both Cocoa frameworks and NSError. It makes it easier for programmers to handle the errors in a more customized way.

Supports Parallel Scripting
Many developers nowadays use popular web technologies like HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript to create the same mobile application for multiple platforms including iOS and Android. They also use web frameworks like Phonegap and Titanium to speed up cross-platform mobile app development. The mobile app developers now have option to use a scripting alternative provided by Swift. However, the parallel scripting language is not cross-platform. Developers can use Swift parallel scripting language only for developing iOS and OS X applications. They can still use the scripting alternative to build iOS apps in a manner similar to hybrid mobile applications.

Apple allows iOS developers to download the latest version of Swift from the iBooks Store. The programmers can further use Swift 2.0 to avail a number of new language features including a new error handling model, focus on protocol-oriented development, and better compatibility with Apple SDKs. The programming language can also be used for writing apps for the upcoming watchOS devices.

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