For the first time this year, our Thursday TechTalk culture was dedicated to the programming language – Swift. This topic was covered by me, as member of the GSIX iOS development team. My teammates had the chance to understand why it is taking advantage before other programming languages for mobile app development.
Since there are more than one billion Apple devices out there, it is crucial to understand and adopt Swift as ultimate programming language for your next project. In this continuous battle that we are witnessing, Apple devices continue to surpass Android in the smartphone sales indicator category. This may be one of the most meaningful factor for businesses to place their digital products mainly and sometimes only for Apple devices as a key investment opportunity and strategic benefit.
Generally spoken, customers cannot make a difference and do not matter what programming language is used for the app they’re using, but it is crucial to understand why so many mobile developers, including us here at GSIX, are adopting this programming language for iOS app development.
In 2014, Apple introduced a new programming language and described as “Objective-C without the C”. The very next year it became open-source and for now, there are 4 official Swift versions. Even considered to be fresh and new, Swift climbed its way up from an Apple experiment to one of the world’s most popular programming languages.
Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages according to the official press release. But now, let’s leave the PR aside and see what are the greatest benefits of using Swift for iOS native development based on our knowledge and experience.
- Its Transparency
Swift is an easy readable programming language which expressions have transparent meanings, thus making it very simple language to learn. The code transparency enables scaling up any development project smoothly. Thus, if any new members join the team, they can shortly catch up the existing code app and start contributing to it faster.
- Its Conciseness
Thanks to its string interpolation alone, Swift is capable of reducing Objective-C mobile app code by almost 70%. Even its creators aimed to make the language less verbose. And less code affects faster development, testing, cheaper maintenance and fewer resources required for any of these tasks.
- Its Automatic Memory Management
Swift employes Automatic Reference Counting across all APIs to achieve the best app performance. The language can handle memory on its own by enabling the most efficient resource consumption. You don’t need manual memory settings and while making necessary adjustments Swift’s convenient tools are available for guidance and support.
- Its Objective-C Interoperability
Swift is not made to completely take over Objective-C which. Moreover, it will always stay a part of many mobile apps that will need future maintenance. This new iOS development language is fully interoperable with its predecessor. In addition, it can coexist with it in one app, file or code line.
- Its Safety
This is a strongly and statically typed language. It enables developers to notice bugs prior compilation and fix them on the go. In addition, this language has smart nil-pointer safety measures that prevent compiling errors due to null references.
- Its Vibrant Open Source Community
Due to the strong corporate support from Apple and IBM, Swift has quickly become one of the most active and vibrant open source communities. Believe it or not, the most starred language on GitHub not is Swift.
As every other programming language, beside the pros, there must be some downsides. These are the disadvantages that may still hold back Swift, but they can’t outperform its advantages.
- Lack of support for previous versions
Having in mind its radical evolution, each new version of Swift does not support the previous one, but the good news is that the newest 4.0 provided support for Swift 3.0. So, you don’t have to worry about the backward compatibility.
- Talent-gap in near future
Sources like Upwork.com reports that there is growing demand for Swift programmers which may result in a talent gap since the language is still young but shows some great benefits of using it.
To sum this up, there are more than these pros to give a change to Swift. This programming language should become a sustainable part of your iOS development team. Its conciseness will make your mobile app more lightweight. Swift’s simplicity will enable faster project upscale. Its full interoperability with Objective-C will enable convenient maintenance or further development of previous projects.
One thing is for sure, it has the potential to become the de-facto programming language for creating immersive, responsive and consumer-facing applications.
Contact us and learn how we can help you plan and develop custom mobile app for iOS that will grow your business for years to come!