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Swift vs Objective-C. Which iOS Language To Choose

Wondering what the difference is between Swift and Objective-C? Which language better suits your project? Check out the detailed Swift vs Objective-C comparison further to make the best choice.

Aleksandra Bessalitskykh, Blogger

November 12, 2018

4 Min Read

With the popularity of the iOS platform and the higher payment ability of Apple users, businesses focus their strategic efforts to deliver the highest quality products. The right tech stacks play an important role here. Therefore, with the introduction of Swift in 2014, lots of confusion appeared in the iOS development world.  

On the one hand, Objective-C has proven to be stable and has been used for many years in development. Whereas the newest programming language, Swift, provides a lot of benefits and a more modern way of coding.

Objective-C and Swift are programming languages that are used to code the Apple software products under macOS, iOS, tvOS, watchOS, CarPlay, and Linux (only for Swift) operating systems. These languages have the corresponding app programming interfaces (APIs) and frameworks (Cocoa, Cocoa Touch). 

Objective-C was created in the late 80s and impacted Smalltalk (for object-oriented syntax) and C (for non-object) programming languages. The main characteristic lies in its maturity, since it has been used and tested for many years for Apple’s software.

Working with Objective-C, the code is divided into 2 code blocks:

  • header (interface) files (.h) 

  • implementation files (.m) 

Swift is not based on the C language. Instead, it offers more powerful tools and modern coding solutions for simpler, but expressive coding, app safety, and performance. The language is intuitive, and thus easier to learn for new programmers.
These days, Apple Inc. promotes the use of Swift and provides constant language version updates.

Nowadays the development world is arguing about which language Swift or Objective-C is better for iOS development.

Objective-C and Swift

Both Swift and Objective-C are among the top 20 most widely used programming languages worldwide. Among all developers, 8.1% are specialized in Swift, while 7% are experienced in Objective-C.

Advantages of Objective-C
1- Objective-C is an approved, well-tested language 

It is reliable and has been used and tested by many developers.

2- Objective-C is more stable 

3- Easier usage of private APIs 

4- Objective-C is easily compatible with C++ 

As it has routes from a C language, products integrating parts of C or C++ code operate smoothly. 

Benefits of Using Swift

1- Swift is faster 

It is faster than Objective-C, because it removed the limitations of C language and has been improved with the help of advanced technologies that were unavailable when C was developed. As mentioned by Apple, Swift was originally designed to operate faster.

2- Swift is safer

The construction of Swift has been designed to exclude and avoid mistakes with the help of its features – generics, optionals, and type interference to achieve app stability.

3- Swift is more readable
To start, code in Swift more closely resembles English, making it easier to read and requiring less time to check the code.
4- Swift has less code
Swift is a more compact language for programming. 
5- Swift is less error-prone 

Swift’s syntax and language constructions exclude the several types of mistakes potentially possible in Objective-C. This control means fewer crashes and cases of unexpected behavior.

6- Swift integrates with memory management 

ARC (Automatic Reference Counting), the memory management functionality inside the Clang compiler, manages the memory of digital objects. This is easily handled with Swift working across procedural and object-oriented code using Cocoa API.

In Swift coding, unified memory management developers should not give attention to each digital object, but rather concentrate on the general logic of the application and its features.

7- Swift is an open-source language
Swift was originally created for Apple platforms (iOS, OS X, watchOS, tvOS) and was further expanded to Linux. Its creators understood the fact that to build a remarkable modern programing language, it should be available for everyone. Swift helped to develop many third-party frameworks & tools and has resulted in a growing community.

8- Swift has interactive coding

Swift Playgrounds has introduced new opportunities to developers. This tool makes it possible to test code on the spot without compiling big pieces of it or creating the whole app. Playgrounds visualizes data and programmers can quickly check and correct everything along with further development. It is especially applicable to custom views and code experiments.

9- Swift is closer to other platforms

Apple’s modern programming language is easier to understand for non-iOS developers and minimizes the time taken for additional explanations and clarifications. This influences the productivity of work positively. 

Moreover, Swift can be used as a script language. It is an interesting solution for the iOS community to unify the writing of build scripts. 
10- Swift is Apple’s ongoing focus

Apple Inc. is concentrating on evolving Swift as its core programming language.

Follow this article to learn the detailed comparison of Swift vs Objective-C.

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