The demand for the development of mobile applications grew in 2020 to $189 billion. Considering that in the USA more than 65% of smartphones work on iOS, it is worth choosing this platform. When creating an application, you will come across a choice of the programming language. The best option is the native Swift language, created by Apple. In this article, we will talk about Swift and its features.
What is Swift
Swift is a programming language developed by Apple. It is a unique tool for creating mobile applications for iOS and macOS programs. Apple, creating Swift, integrated several languages to make it accessible even for beginners. It is because of this that it is so popular as the first language to learn.
Swift is a regular programming language: in its standard form, you first write the entire program, then compile it and run it. The compilation is the transformation of program code into technical code for the processor: the input was what the developer could read, and the output was what the computer could read. After compilation, you can no longer easily look into the program and change something in it; everything is encrypted and compressed there. But the processor processes such a program much faster than scripts.
Swift has become a unique tool for creating mobile apps, opening new frontiers for programming. Application development has become much easier, more dynamic, more interesting. This was achieved thanks to modern functions and responsible patterns for process safety, as well as the use of well-known Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks.
History of creating
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software development, noted that the foundation for the new Swift was laid back in the distant 90s in the NeXT platform – the predecessor of macOS and iOS.
In 2010, Chris Lattner began developing Swift and collaborated with Apple programmers. The inspiration for writing a convenient and understandable Swift language was Rust, Objective-C, Ruby, Haskell, C #, CLU, Python, and other programming languages.
So in 2014 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company introduced the new, simple and modern programming language Swift. Before, Apple used Objective-C. Creating Swift, the company wanted to attract not only experienced developers who work with Objective-C but also beginners who take this opportunity and join the community of iOS developers. During the conference, Apple released a prototype language and made it available to registered developers.
Also, at the conference, developers received a 500-page manual called the Swift Programming Language. Now it can be downloaded for free on the iBook and the official website of Apple Inc.
According to a study by Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2015, Swift won first place as “Favorite Programming Language.” In 2019, he was still in the top ten, ranking sixth.
In 2018, Swift entered the top ten most popular languages according to the version of the analytical company RedMonk, taking tenth place. In 2019, Swift was in the eleventh place in the ranking, dropping just one position.
For which devices can you write code with Swift
As we said, Swift is the native language for all Apple devices. Logically, it is primarily used to create applications on iOS, software for macOS, watchOS and even tvOS. Therefore, if you decide to start developing apps or software for Apple devices, Swift is your must-have for learning. Although cross-platform products can be used, but there is nothing better than a native language.
Well-known applications such as Procreate, Airbnb, LinkedIn, Yahoo Weather, Duolingo, Kickstarter, Vimeo, Twitter, Khan Academy were written with Swift and these are just a few examples.
Swift was the epitome of Apple engineering talent, combining the best of modern programming languages. It allows you to develop applications of any complexity: from elementary games to a complex operating system. Despite its popularity, the language has both advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Swift
Swift developers wanted to achieve high-performance, especially the speed of programs and code execution. According to Apple, Swift is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C and 8 times faster than Python 2.7. The goal that Apple is striving for now is to make it faster than C ++, which is often recognized as the fastest programming language.
Free and open-source
Swift became open-source in 2015. This event greatly influenced the popularity of the language. You can start working with it absolutely for free, moreover, the company provides a detailed guide for working.
Visible Result and Training
For those who don’t have coding knowledge and who may think that serious literature is too difficult, Apple launched an iPad app called Swift Playgrounds. The app helps to learn the basics, giving the user simple puzzles. So learning complex programming becomes an exciting and interactive process.
Also, the application allows you to conduct any experiments and see their result instantly without requiring the launch of the app. Sometimes this increases the development speed several times and helps to quickly deal with a problem part of the code.
Another strength of Swift is its functional safety. This typed language allows programmers to quickly find errors before compiling and fix them. The developers proceeded from the fact that a programmer should not foresee every problematic situation, because a computer can do it for him. For example, you do not need to specifically monitor access and memory leak, because Swift takes care of it. Regular errors, for example, the language handles more efficiently than the competitor C ++ where each exception must be registered manually.
Apple loves minimalism in everything. Swift allows you to solve the problem with a minimum number of code lines. It is an easy-to-read language, just like Python, but with curly braces instead of an indentation. Such code is easy to read even by those who do not know Swift but know any other programming language. Everything in it is logical and structured.
Thanks to the integration with the Objective-C library (Objective-C Runtime Library), you can write programs in Swift, Objective-C, and C ++ at the same time.
Automatic memory management
Automatic reference counting monitors and manages application memory on its own, reducing development time. Now developers do not need to do this on their own.
Swift is a relatively young language. Thanks to Swift’s open-source code, Apple took a step towards making it cross-platform. Apple also promises that Swift will be available on Windows. The tech giant IBM has also greatly contributed to the development of the language. The company introduced the Swift test environment and gave it access to the cloud. Thus, the server-side of Swift can be integrated with many server tools.
Swift has 74 built-in functions, but developers sometimes lack them. This is where third-party frameworks from the Swift library come to the rescue. They save time by offering off-the-shelf code for the components of your application.
Disadvantages of Swift
Swift was introduced to the world in 2014 and it’s still quite young compared to Objective-C, which has existed since the 1980s. After each update, developers need to learn new material to work with. But, looking at the wider picture, Swift is limited to its own libraries, tools and is doomed to be unstable after an update.
This is not only a big plus but also a minus. Compatibility with Objective-C and C ++ greatly slows down the process of developing applications and software.
Due to the fact that there are not many really talented Swift developers, the cost of their work increases. North America has the highest hourly pay for developers. The cost of developing for iOS can reach up to $200 per hour. If you want to find a qualified developer, check out our article in which we talk about the intricacies of choosing local and remote developers.
Now there is nothing better than Swift for developing products on iOS. Is it worth it to study? Definitely yes. This language will be a great start for beginners due to its simplicity and given the fact that there are not so many personnel in this area. Experienced developers will also find it easy with Swift because they took the best features of many popular languages for it. Having weighed the pros and cons, we can say that Swift has a great future ahead and a wide audience of users.