Move over, Objective-C. Swift is the new language of choice for Apple developers and it has the potential to not only make apps run faster, but speed up development processes.
A surprise announcement at The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2014, Swift has been generating a lot of excitement. Haven’t been able to keep up? Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered.
Here’s everything you need to know about Swift – and to even get started using it:
What it is
Swift is Apple’s new programming language for building apps on iOS and iOS X. Apple is billing Swift as a faster, more efficient and effective means of building software apps for iPhones, iPads, and Macs.
What’s great about it
Swift makes it easier for developers to write apps because it’s code is easier to read, write and collaborate on than Objective-C, the current language used to build apps for Apple platforms. Additionally, Swift appears to be very easy to learn. By lowering the barrier to entry required for developers to master a programming language, Swift could open the doors for a newer, bigger generation of talented developers and innovative apps.
Why you should care
Consumers should care because Apple apps are about to offer even more functionality. While this is partially due to Swift, it’s also related to a number of other, powerful software development kits (SDKs) released by Apple, such as HomeKit and the TouchID API, which can help apps incorporate parts of your house and fingerprints, respectively, into mobile apps. It borders on what you’d read in science fiction. If you’re interested, you can read about some of these SDKs released in conjunction with Swift here.
Developers should care because Swift truly is the future of iOS development. Apple already has made it clear that Swift is here to stay. And what’s not to like about it? Swift works with and is interoperable with Objective-C, so even if you want to drag your feet, you can still write in the current, lower-level language. Heads-up, though: all signs point to Swift one day replacing Objective-C entirely.
What we think
Like others in the developer community, we think the sky is the limit for Swift. It’s much easier to write than Objective-C.
At the same time, we’re exercising a patient, exploratory approach with Swift, as we do with any new programming language. If you’re interested, you can read more about our general thoughts on why new languages are created, whether or not a new language will be adopted, and how it might affect your business in an article for the Nashville Technology Council here.
What others are saying (aka what you should be reading)
For developers, we’d recommend checking out:
- “A Guided Swift Tour” in Apple’s iOS Developer Library
- The bookmark-worthy, official Apple Swift blog
- GeekWire offers thoughts on “Why Developers Are Buzzing About Apple’s New Swift Programming Language”
- ZDNet continues to cover Swift closely now that the dust has settled since WWDC, pointing out how “Swift Is Looking Better To iOS, Mac Coders” and rounding up links and info as “Developers and Apple Open Up On Swift.”
- An opinion piece from Huffington Post on “Swift is Great, But Objective-C Is Not Going Anywhere”
- Fast Company’s detailed write-up on “What’s New And Different About Apple’s New Swift Programming Language?”
For the rest of us:
A recap of all the major WWDC announcements – including Swift, iOS 8, HomeKit and HealthKit – that led Mashable to explain “Why Apple Developers Like What They’re Seeing at WWDC”
An explanation of why Wired believes that “Apple’s Swift Language Will Instantly Remake Computer Programming”
If you were wondering, Fast Company explains (in layman’s terms) “Why The World Needs More Programming Languages
Where you can begin to learn, code and test it
Developers wanting to dive right into Swift can download the XCode 6 Beta and test it out. However, according to Engadget, submitting an app written with Swift to the App Store will have to wait until iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite arrive this fall.
For those seeking tutorials, code samples and references, we’ve found the resources at LearnSwift.tips to be helpful.
Will it live up to hype?
Our prediction? Yes. Swift looks like a solid improvement on top of Objective-C. It’s more readable and requires far less extraneous code to achieve the same results as before. More importantly, Apple has already given Swift its seal of approval – so we believe it’s here to stay.
What do you think of Swift? If you have any questions, comments or links on your mind, share them in the comments below!