Swift vs Objective-C Development Language: Which One is More Suitable in 2017?

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27 Jun 2017
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Vitaly K.
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In such a rapidly growing industry as IT, there are always a variety of hot topics for developers to argue about. The release of Swift language in 2014 and Apple's great expectations for this language was not exceptional and became the topic for numerous Swift vs Objective-C discussions. In this article, we will try to find out some argument on why use Swift instead of Objective-C in 2017. 

Why Swift language?

After continuously working on Objective-C improvements, Apple presented to the community its new coding language called Swift. I suppose you already aware of pros and cons of Objective-C, so let's talk for a while about advantages, as well as disadvantages of Swift in the field of the mobile app development.

Clarity of code

Among all the advantages of Swift programming language, we should figure out the simple syntax of this language intended to make code reading and writing easier. This way, the number of code strings required to implement a certain option in Swift is less than on Objective-C. The support of inferred types allows you to avoid some minor mistakes and preserve the clarity of code.

Moreover, automatic Swift memory management obviates the need to use semicolons. In fact, it is an open source project that allows anyone who wants to contribute to further language development to do so.

Less code required

In iOS Swift code if compared to Objective-C, a number of repetitive statements, as well as string manipulations can be implemented with less code. Besides, there were lots of issues such as messed up orders or wrong string tokens that could have lead to app crashes. Swift was deprived of these issues by means of built-in inline support intended to manipulate text strings and data.

One more minor improvement is that you will not find the division into interface and implementation anymore. It reduces the number of files in a project which allows you to navigate more easily through the project.

Swift language performance and safety

Nowadays, Apple continues improving Swift language performance including the speed of running app logic. According to numerous tests, Swift performance is nearly the same as C++ when it comes to such algorithms as FFT or Mandelbrot. However, you should remember that Apple's Swift is a young programming language, so its performance will definitely get better.

Swift was designed with safety in mind. While Objective-C can call a method containing a nil pointer variable, making the expression a no-operation that in turn could lead to the app working improperly, Swift is able to produce a compiler error every time it faces bad code. This is due to optional types making clear nil optional values. This way, the time needed for bug fixing is reduced greatly.

One of the other Swift advantages is that this language has a really strong typing system as well as error handling that prevents coders from making minor mistakes.

Swift language performance

Swift vs Objective-C speed according to Apple's research

Dynamic iOS Swift libraries

Probably one of the biggest changes in iOS Swift libraries is the waiver of static libraries for dynamic ones. If the updates of static libraries are conducted only when some major updates, like one of the next iOS versions are rolled out, then dynamic libraries are pieces of a code that can be connected directly to an app.

This allows applications to always use the most up-to-date versions of Swift. So that means the language itself is able to develop far faster than the iOS platform.

The usage of dynamic libraries allows reducing the initial size of applications due to the fact it is loaded into the memory and all the external code will run only when it is needed. This step allows minimizing the initial waiting time until the resource will be displayed on a device screen.

In general, these iOS Swift libraries help to conduct changes the same as improvements much easier than ever before.

Swift memory management

ARC in Objective-C language is supported inside of the object-oriented code itself, as well as Cocoa API but it cannot access C code and such APIs as Core Graphics. Swift, if compared to Objective-C, is more unified so that its ARC is complete for such code paths as procedural and object-oriented. That is why the extensive leaks of memory when iOS development by means of this language are impossible. However, the retain cycle memory leaks prevail in Swift.

This way, Swift memory management allows coders not to worry about the memory for each digital object anymore. They can focus on core app logic along with new features.

Objective-C vs Swift comparison

Swift vs Objective-C comparison graph

Swift and Objective-C comparison: Which one and when to apply it in projects?

There is a big scope of factors developers should pay attention to when selecting a programming language. However, remember that a lot depends on your coding preferences, experience, and the project itself.

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Cannot decide on a programming language? Read our article How to Choose a Technology Stack

So, you should delve into the peculiar requirements of your project, as well as its size and deadline. Never underestimate the challenges you may be faced with and always consider your experience, preferences, and team.

Deadline

Writing an app in a new or unfamiliar language also involves some risks. Mainly, they are connected with the quality of the final product and the time needed to implement it. That being said, if you have a very tight deadline you should think twice before choosing Swift language if you and your team is not experienced enough working with it, as well as consider Swift disadvantages.

Talking about those projects with the adequate timeline or even without any set deadlines, you should definitely take advantages of Swift programming language. This language has only existed for about three years but has already been recognized by world-known companies and developers over the globe. So, projects with ample time for development are the perfect chance to start applying Swift and get a lot of practical experience.

The point also is that Apple will not stop Swift development. It will be get better and better with every single update.

Teamwork

In case you are not working on a project alone, it is reasonable to ask your teammates for their opinions. For example, if your team consists of strong Objective-C developers and not all of them are good at Swift, there are no reasons to start applying iOS Swift code to projects before they improve their skills.

Even if it seems like the perfect moment for starting to code a Swift app, disagreements inside the team may lead to serious consequences that will not be beneficial for anybody. Not to mention technical issues.

Project size

Why Swift language is appropriate for small projects? Due to the fact it is a new coding language, even change to minor versions can bring a necessity to adapt the current Swift code to some new idioms and syntaxes that were added to the new version. So in small projects, in contrary to big ones, the changes in code will be minimal.

Of course, Xcode provides developers with tools that are able to convert the code of an older Swift version to the new one. However, the tools cannot trace everything and in many cases, automatic conversion is impossible or incorrect due to the lack of code knowledge.

Why learn Swift: Popularity

Popularity of Swift is rising

Technical points

One of Swift disadvantages from a technical point of view is the absence of C++ import into the files written in Swift. So, you have to get through Objective-C or Objective-C++ wrapper classes creation. This way, if you are going to use a lot of C++ libraries, Objective-C will meet your needs better.

Another unpleasant reality concerning Swift is that it only supports iOS 7 or higher, Mac OS 10.9 or higher along with all watchOS and tvOS versions. So, if your project requires the support of lower platform versions - welcome to the Objective-C world.

Why learn Swift programming language?

The short answer - yes, you should learn Swift programming. This language got the first place as one of the most loved coding languages in 2015 as well as second in 2016 according to Stack Overflow.

In turn, this popularity generates a lot of content dedicated to Swift development. This way, by now there are a huge number of resources related to this topic from written/video blogs to different kind of tutorials. So, it becomes easier to learn Swift language.

Many projects are already developed by means of Swift so that more developers start integrating Swift code into their projects. For example, such apps as Lyft, LinkedIn, Sky Guide, and Yahoo Weather are written in Swift.

Applications that are based on Swift

Apps built on Swift

Talking about tools contributing to more convenient iOS Swift code writing, it is worth mentioning that the number of libraries built on Swift is rising year after year.

Will Android switch to Swift?

After Swift has moved to the open source model, such prominent companies as Google and Facebook have gathered in London for holding a meeting concerning the new language that appeared on the IT horizons.

According to Next Web, Swift is considered by Google as the potential core language for Android. At the same time, Uber along with Facebook wants Swift to play a prominent role in their projects.

However, to make it happen it will take a lot of efforts from both sides. Apple should make Swift portable across different platforms and Google needs to adapt all its libraries to Swift and realize the support of this language for APIs as well as SDKs. Nevertheless, the usage of Swift in terms of Android development is possible.

If you have any questions related to cooperation with us or the IT industry in general - contact our managers to get your free consultation and do not forget to subscribe in order to stay tuned.

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