A Comparison of iOS Programming Languages: Swift vs. Objective-C

iOS Programming Languages

Apple released Swift, a new programming language for iOS mobile apps, in 2014, giving iOS developers an alternative to Objective-C, an object-oriented superset of the C programming language that had previously served as the foundation of iOS development. Swift is meant to work with all iOS programming tools, including xCode, Objective-C, and the Cocoa framework. Still, because of its simplicity of use and better capabilities, it is swiftly replacing Objective-C.

Swift is a programming language that is faster, easier, and allows developers to be more productive.

Much of the OS X operating system is based on inherited technology from Apple’s early days. All of OS X’s later components, including mobile apps, are written in Objective-C. The virtues of Objective-C are its graphical user interfaces (GUIs) and feature-rich frameworks, but it’s a clumsy language to develop compared to newer languages. Apple-designed lacks mistakes examined language better suited for fast-paced app development while also addressing Objective-limitations C’s like the iOS operating system’s hardware and software matured and improved with faster memory and processors. Swift is supposed to make iOS developers’ lives easier and more productive by removing some of the “baggage” of a 30-year-old language like C.

The Cocoa Touch Framework and the Objective-C programming language are both compatible.

Frameworks are collections of code modules that help developers create applications more quickly and efficiently. Cocoa (for OS X) and Cocoa Touch are connected with Apple operating systems (iOS). Cocoa Touch is designed primarily for touch-based devices like iPhones and iPads, with modules written in Objective-C. When developing apps with Cocoa Touch, the iOS mobile framework Swift is compatible with Objective-C. It works with Objective-C, allowing developers to communicate between the two languages, construct mixed-language programs, and use Cocoa Touch and Swift classes in Objective-C. 

Developers can take advantage of Swift’s advanced features by swapping out sections of Objective-C code for Swift. A developer can pick and choose from these interchangeable classes, design patterns, and APIs. It’s also simple to convert code from Swift to Objective-C. You’ll only need to set up a Swift development environment in Xcode to use Swift with the Cocoa Touch framework. Then, to get started, import Cocoa frameworks, APIs, and Objective-C code modules.

Swift has several significant advantages

Swift is almost as quick as C++ when it comes to performance. It’s even faster with the latest Xcode releases from 2015.

  • Swift is less difficult to read and understand than Objective-C. Because Objective-C is nearly thirty years old, it has a more clumsy syntax. Swift is related to languages like C#, C++, JavaScript, Java, and Python in that it streamlines code and makes it more legible in English. Swift should be easy to pick up for developers who are already familiar with these languages. Swift also requires less code. Swift uses string interpolation instead of placeholders or tokens, whereas Objective-C is verbose for string manipulation.
  • Code is easier to maintain when files are unified. Once again, an old C language restriction pulls Objective-C back: a two-file requirement. This implies that programmers no longer have to update and maintain two separate code files, as they do with Swift. This means coders will have less work to do, but not at the expense of front-end speed. 
  • Programmers will have a better coding experience with better compilers. Swift is written utilizing the Low-Level Virtual Machine (LLVM), a compiler used by Scala, Ruby, Python, C#, and Go, among other languages. Because LLVM is faster and smarter than prior C compilers, the programmer’s job is shifted to Xcode and the compiler.
  • Swift is “safer” because there are no pointers. Like other C languages, Objective-C uses tips, which are a means of exposing values that provide programmers more direct access to data. The issue with pointers is that they can expose security flaws. They also make it challenging to discover and fix faults. Instead of continuing to execute the app if your code’s pointer lacks a value (a nil value), Swift forces the program to crash, allowing you to find and solve errors on the fly. You’ll have cleaner code and spend less time in the future looking for mistakes.
  • Improved memory management Memory leaks can occur in object-oriented programming and apps, reducing the amount of memory available for an app to run, causing it to fail. Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) is a simplified method of memory management that Cocoa Touch APIs often support. However, ARC isn’t provided in the context of the Core Graphics API; it’s up to the developer. When an app uses massive data buffers, video, or graphics, this is a common issue. When an app uses too much memory due to a memory leak, the operating system may shut it off. To address this, Swift now supports ARC across all APIs, which means programmers will spend less time worrying about memory management.

Endnote

While many old Objective-C programs will need to be maintained (indicating that Objective-C isn’t going away anytime soon), Apple’s existing APIs will require some code change to function with Swift. It has also changed as a result of Xcode updates and new releases.

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