Every novice iOS developer starts with the ritual of searching “swift vs Objective-C” in the Google search bar as soon as they start custom iPhone application development. This is the most basic “everybody does it” thing when starting with iOS app development.
In fact, it is necessary for all business owners to understand the difference between Swift and Objective-C before they enter the iOS app world.
But the answer to the question of what between the two (Swift and Objective-C) is better, is not something specific. Rather as an entrepreneur, you would have to assess the qualities of both and figure out which suits your application to the most extent.
If you are already an iOS app owner, and your app is coded in Objective-C, you can analyze the pros and cons of switching to Swift or remaining put.
However, if you plan on taking forward iOS app development to create a new application, then Swift suits better, and should be your default choice.
Why are we saying that? We’ll explain.
Let’s go back in history.
In October 2014, Apple released a brilliant new programming language called Swift. The language astonished every single iOS app developer, since it was launched with the aim of replacing the language used so far known as Objective-C. Objective-C was stable by all means, it was proven to be effective and it powered a million applications since iOS app developers used it for around two decades.
The goal of launching swift was far sighted. It was to provide security, better performance and easy maintenance. Although built for Apple platforms initially, swift was to expand its functioning on various other platforms as well.
Before Swift became an open-source language, Apple developed it with all the experience they accumulated using Objective-C and providing it with a modern touch with latest tools, good practices and modern programming trends.
It was designed with the aim of providing all the goodness of modern programming language.
However, replacing a 20 year old programming language overnight was an unrealistic goal. Hundreds of frameworks and thousands of libraries were already written in Objective-C, hence rewriting them with a language just launched made no sense. Thus, Objective-C runtime can and will access Apple frameworks such as AppleKit, WatchKit and UIKit. And swift is built with the capacity to interface easily and work over it.
Swift was built to co-exist with Objective-C and run in compatibility with it.
However, in terms of programming capabilities, Swift outpowers Objective-C. It is a flexible and functional programming style and a strongly typed language, therefore it has brilliant features including tuples, closures, Structs and enums supporting methods, generics, computed properties, extensions and protocols, and a lot more things.
Other factors that make Swift popular between coders for hire are code size, readability, safety, efficient interactions over collections, and less prone to errors.
Why Still Objective-C?
Even though Swift is much more powerful, it still lacked just one thing which raised this Object C vs Swift debate, and that’s Maturity. In the recent years of Swift’s launch, deciding between the two was like choosing between a solid high-mileage, old chevrolet and a brand new sports car with bad mileage.
Those who rushed towards Swift programming in its initial days using version 1 and 2, had to rewrite the whole code again. It was not mature, evolving rapidly with syntax changing frequently. Hence maintaining swift apps was more difficult than maintaining apps coded in Objective-C.
However, after Swift 3, syntax became stable with minor changes regulated by Xcode itself. Hence, many companies offering custom iOS app development services started finding Swift a better option.
Why is Swift 5 different?
So far, every new version of Swift has proved to be better than the previous. So what makes Swift 5 better?
Version 4.2 was the start of compilation of Swift codes of one version with another. However, the app binary, which is considered as the machine level code was not compatible with different versions of swift. This implies that Swift was never ABI stable, until Swift 5.
Since Swift 5 is ABI stable for every platform, including macOS, iOS, watchOS, and tvOS, all the future versions of Swift, including version 5 will be compatible with one another.
Considering Swift is a newer language, it is sure that it will continue to evolve in the future as well, but the app written in an older version will not require to be refactored or rewritten to be enough to support the future versions.
In fact, the libraries coded now will seamlessly communicate and coexist with codes programmed for future versions of swift and vice versa.
The immediate benefit provided to users now would be a significant reduction in app size.
It is a fact that Objective-C will stay in the future as well since there are millions of applications already powered with the programming language. But, it is also a fact that the language is lacking updates, and all the recent updates it has witnessed has been launched to improve its compatibility with Swift. As a programming language, Swift rules, which is why it is smart to carry forward your custom iPhone app development keeping Swift as the core.