Objective-C has gained a predominant place as a primary language in the world of mobile app development for many years. Used extensively for developing successful iOS and OS mobile applications, Objective-C is a compound of C language with object-oriented features and efficient runtime. Objective-C run its regime before Apple launched a unique programming language in 2014 called Swift.
Swift is safe, concise and more sophisticated than Objective-C and encourages interactive development system. It offers several commendable features like generics, short syntax, closures and type interface that further simplify the coding and eliminate complicated patterns experienced in Objective-C.
Despite all new capabilities of Swift for app development, developers are still in dilemma as to which one is better for iOS app development.
The discussion below penetrates the subject in more depth:
Swift at a Glance
Introduced by Apple, the main purpose of Swift was to liberate developers from excessive efforts involved in Objective-C coding format and provide maximum agility, faster run time and simplicity. It has combination of C and Objective-C without legacy constraints and challenging conventions often faced in Objective-C language.
Swift has enough potential to act as a logical alternative to Objective-C and can work alongside Objective-C while using Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks in iOS, WatchOS, OS X and tvOS. Therefore, iOS developers can go confidently go for Swift.
Due to its potent benefits, developers are compelled to run analogy between Objective-C and Swift and think of Swift to build highly engaging iOS apps. Let’s compare both languages technically to make the decision as to which language is better.
Swift vs. Objective-C
Apple’s claims that Swift is better, faster and smarter than Objective-C have made the language a famous point of discussion among world’s community of developers. Swift has also gained the reputation of being more direct and able to establish smooth connection between iOS developers and consumers.
The following points elaborate on the comparison:
1) Readability and Concision
Arguably enough, Swift is more advantageous when it comes to enjoying the clarity of syntax while coding iOS mobile apps. Due to ease in writing and reading, developers find it much more convenient to develop apps with complicated functions. With Swift, same action can be implemented in limited code lines compared to Objective-C. This means concise codes and reduction in legacy practices that earlier involved semicolons and parenthesis while forming conditional if/else expressions.
2) Intuitive Language and Cleanliness
In Swift, unlike Objective-C, method and function calls do not create confusing mess and look more organized due to the list of parameters elegantly separated by comma. This ability of the language results in clean, simplified syntax.
3) Ease of Maintenance
Objective-C is greatly dependent on C when it comes to absorbing changes and evolving the language. This implies that Objective-C will require programmers to maintain two code files to boost efficiency and reduce build time. Swift, however, is free from such interdependencies because it eliminates two-file requirement with a single code file (.swift) which combines Objective-C header (.h) and implementation file (.m).
Therefore, Swift is comparatively easier to maintain. In Objective-C, method names and comments are synchronized with human efforts. Swift allows developers to avoid this hassle and spare more time for more important aspects of programming such as code quality, features and app logic, etc.
4) Rational Code With Minimal Strings
Objective-C provokes issues that create errors or app crashes. Swift language has less scope of error because it allows programmers to manipulate text strings. Objective-C makes combining two strings lengthy whereas Swift enables joining two strings with ‘+’ sign.
Furthermore, Swift involves less code density when writing repetitive statements. In Swift, classes are not divided into interface and implementation. This eventually depletes the number of files through the development process, increasing ease of handling it.
5) Safety and Security
Developing a secure app is not just a necessity, but to emerge successful in the tight market competition and ensure impressive user experience, security should be a first priority. Swift language has syntax that is free from common mistakes as possible with Objective-C. In the event of nil code, Swift indirectly alerts programmers with compiler error suggesting that a bad code is written.
Thus, programmers can avoid mistakes while writing iOS apps. Less amount of mistakes and problematic code means high stability and low app crash incidents and high quality of iOS app.
Speed is an essential factor in determining the adoption of any programming language in mobile app development routine since any business would benefit the most from high speed programming. Swift enables any complex object to run 3.9 times faster than Python and is way faster than implementation of code in Objective-C. Swift has proven to be the language swimmingly faster and consistent in its performance than Objective-C or any other language used for iOS app development.
7) Dynamic iOS Libraries
Dynamic iOS Swift libraries are flexible to allow apps to update to newer, evolved version of Swift language. The dynamic libraries are executable codes. In Swift, dynamic libraries are loaded directly to the memory, optimizing the original size and performance of the app.
Such dynamic updates ensure the applications built with Swift are most updated and the language receives updates faster than iOS platform.
Swift was made open source in 2015, which allows programmers to use the full potential of the language with various platforms. The open-source also indicates that Apple will be able to come close to the community of independent developers and process their feedback in order to implement meaningful improvements consistently.
Although Objective-C has its own success stories, Swift as a fresh revolution in iOS app development can have impactful support from developers. Thus, Swift as an open source phenomenon has better scope to convert suggestions into superior actions and create much more evolved code architecture and mobile apps design.
9) The Promise of Consistent Performance
Swift as Apple has implied is likely to imbibe more changes and show improvements in terms of language performance, speed and time consumption. Based on tests run on Swift so far, it could be said that app logic can be fast-processed with clean Swift code lines. Swift is also believed to exhibit performance that appears close to C++ while running certain arithmetic algorithms, which is not achievable in case of Objective-C.
Additionally, developers can leverage the fact that Swift is a young, flourishing programming language by Apple, which implies that programmers can expect it to get better in near future.
Major Drawbacks of Swift Programming
Even though Swift is widely seen as one of the respectable and convenient programming languages for iOS app development, it has the following drawbacks:
- Due to limited compatibility, Swift imposes on iOS developers frequent rewriting of language, making it difficult to write an app that functions perfectly with new version demanding heavy rewrite
- There is a chance that without a stable version, developers may compromise proper functioning of certain iOS app functionality
- Developers often encounter the vague problems due to lack of IDEs and proper Swift support
Should You Learn and Opt For Swift in iOS development?
After considering both pros and cons of Apple’s Swift in comparison with Objective-C, we can say that developers have little to lose when it comes to adopting Swift for their next iOS app development project. Opting for Swift will not only enhance the learning curve, but the awareness of Swift programming language can put developers in the most competitive spot for future iOS projects.
Due to its burgeoning popularity, a lot of reference tutorials and online resources are generated for Swift programmers to develop iOS mobile apps. Some of the big names that have leveraged Swift for building iOS apps are Lyft, Clear, Sky Guide, LinkedIn, Yahoo Weather.
The scenario for Swift looks positive in 2018. Hence, we can argue that Swift may replace Objective-C in future.
There is no doubt that Swift is built with the futuristic vision to enhance the iOS app development process for iOS developers. From above comparison, it is also evident that Swift surpasses Objective-C in so many ways frequently winning the debate in the giant domain of iOS mobile app development. However, the ultimate choice between Swift and Objective-C depends on the app size, team strengths, technical awareness and project deadline.