At its 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple introduced Swift as a compiled programming language for iOS, OS X and WatchOS. Apple describes the Swift as safe, fast, interactive and modern programming language for iOS, OS X and WatchOS. At the recently concluded WWDC 2015, Apple announced its decision to make Swift open source later this year. The company also announced Swift 2.0 with a new error handling API, better performance, and a number of new features. As an open source programming language, it can now be used by small companies and freelance app developers. At the same time, like other open source technologies Swift will also be supported by a large and active community. So Swift 2.0 will have a huge impact on iOS and OS X application development.
How Swift 2.0 will Impact iOS and OS X Application Development?
Migration from Objective-C to Swift
With the introduction of Swift, most app developers would prefer to use Swift over Objective C. Swift also makes it easier for developers to write applications in a quicker and simpler way. Thus, it becomes essential for both beginners and seasoned iOS app developers to learn and use the new open source programming language.
Beginners can Learn and Use Swift Easily
Reduced Development Cost
Most developers prefer developing apps for iOS and OS X to get higher returns. A number of reports have also highlighted how iOS makes it easier for developers to monetize their mobile apps and get higher returns. But iOS app development is often considered to be more expensive than Android app development. As Apple is going to make Swift open source, the enterprises and developers can now use the programming language without paying any licensing fees and royalty. The open source programming language will further help small businesses and freelance developers to reduce development cost significantly.
Emphasis on the Latest Version of XCode
Before the release of XCode 6.0.1, developers have to handle bugs, unexpected errors and crashes while writing iOS apps in Swift. But Xcode 6.0.1 made it easier for programmers to write complex iOS apps in the programming languages. For instance, the Swift Interactive Playground included in Xcode 6.0.1 enabled programmers to write code in Swift and check the results instantaneously. Also, the code completion features of the Swift Interactive Playground makes it easier for beginners to learn the programming language and observe how it interacts with various APIs. So while using Swift 2.0, the programmers have to use the most recent version of Xcode and iOS emulator. Apple is expected release the upcoming version of Xcode with a number of new features and functionality to effectuate iOS app development with Swift.
New Language Features and Enhancement
In addition to making Swift 2.0 open source, Apple also includes several language features and enhancements in it. Thus, while using the open source programming language, the developers can avail a number of new features.
New Error Handling Model: Swift 2.0 will come with a new error handling model that is both natural and user-friendly. In addition to working with Apple SDKs seamlessly, the error handling model will further allow programmers to use commonly used keywords like try, catch and throw. Thus, now it will be easier for developers to check and eliminate the errors in their code quickly.
Option to Check If the API is Compatible with the Target OS: While choosing a specific API, the developers have to check its compatibility with older versions of target OS. As most APIs do not support older versions of the operating system, the developers have to put both time and effort to pick the right API that works with the target OS. The Swift compiler now makes it easier for programmers to check the compatibility of a specific APIs with target operating systems. If the API is not compatible with an older version of the OS, the compiler will show an error message. The compiler will further allow programmers to run the API on compatible OS by wrapping the code safely using #available blocks.
New Protocol Extensions: Swift 2 will also come with features to effectuate development of protocol-oriented apps. Along with adding protocol extensions, the open source programming language also uses these protocols extensively. Instead of using global functions, programmers can use Swift 2.0 to add methods to common types. Thus, they can easily chain the functions naturally, while making the code more readable.
Better Compatibility with Apple SDKs: Swift 2.0 is also designed to work seamlessly with various Apple SDKs. To work better with Apple SDKs, the open source programming language will come with two distinct features, i.e., nullability annotations and generics. The programmers are not required to use optionals frequently as the annotate API cannot return null. Also, the generic systems used by SDKs will enable programmers to store detailed type information directly in the code.
At this juncture, one may need to understand in detail, the feasibility of iOS developers shifting to Swift from Objective C . Some uncertainties still remain e.g. Apple has not revealed all information about Swift 2.0. That is why; the real and full impact on Swift as an open source programming language can be assessed accurately only when Apple reveals more information.
Mukesh Pandian is a true blue Bangalorean. Born in a techie family, he loved everything technical and fell in love with iPhone and iOS. He builds iOS and Mac apps and writes about software development on Apple platforms. He is a diehard Cricket fan and spends his weekends playing cricket in a narrow lane. He plans to build a cricket stadium in his community someday. He recently wrote a blog about the 10 common mistakes an iOS developer makes. He is one of the key bloggers at Allaboutapps.