With more than 1 billion devices in use as of January, 2016, iOS is the world’s second most popular mobile platform. In some regions, including the USA, the UK, and France, Apple devices continue to outperform Android in smartphone sales numbers. That is why so many businesses focus their software products primarily and sometimes solely on the iOS platform as a key investment opportunity and strategic benefit.
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If you are one of those smart business owners following the iOS app development path, probably the most important decision you will make is choosing the right tech stack for your product. If you decide to go for native development instead cross-platform solutions, you still have to decide which language to use: the good old Objective-C or brand-new Swift.
What is Swift and why should you use it?
Swift is a compiled programming language for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux applications. Here’s what you need to know about Swift.
Created by Apple in 2014. Backed up by one of the most influential tech companies in the world, Swift is set to become the dominant language for iOS development and beyond.
Open source. Swift creators acknowledged the fact that in order to build a defining programming language, the technology needs to be open for all. So, within its three years of existence, Swift acquired a large supportive community and an abundance of third-party tools.
Safe. Its syntax encourages you to write clean and consistent code which may even feel strict at times. Swift provides safeguards to prevent errors and improve readability.
Fast. Swift was built with performance in mind. Not only does its simple syntax and hand-holding help you develop faster, it also lives up to its name: as stated on apple.com, Swift is 2.6x faster than Objective-C and 8.4x faster than Python.
In demand. As of March 2018, it’s 12th most popular language, surpassing Objective-C, Go, Scala, and R. With more than 40K stars on GitHub and 187K StackOverflow questions, this young language is rightfully becoming one of the dominant technologies in the industry.
Keep reading to learn more about the technology or visit the following links if you want to jump right into development with Swift:
Pros of Using Swift for iOS Native Development
Often referred to as “Objective-C, without the C,” Swift language is in many aspects superior to its predecessor. To get an in-depth comparison of Swift and Objective C, check our separate article. According to the official press release, “Swift combines the performance and efficiency of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages.” Leaving technology details and marketing aside, let’s see what it really means from a business perspective.
Rapid development process
A clean and expressive language with a simplified syntax and grammar, Swift is easier to read and write. It is very concise, which means less code is required to perform the same task, as compared to Objective-C. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) does all the work tracking and managing the app’s memory usage, so developers don’t need to spend time and effort doing that manually. Accordingly, it usually takes less time to build iOS apps with Swift.
A shining example of this advantage is the new Lyft app: The company completely re-wrote its iOS app using Swift. While the old codebase consisted of about 75,000 lines of code, the Swift version recreated the same functionality with less than a third of that. Moreover, the app now featured a new onboarding process: While the old one took more than a month and multiple engineers to implement, the new onboarding with Swift was completed within a week with only one engineer.