Swift may be considered a young platform in the development world. But, it has surely paved its way to becoming the most sought after language for businesses looking to develop an iOS app. It is easy to use and implement, so Swift has changed the way iOS applications are built and used in the last few years.
Before the introduction of Swift, mobile apps were developed on Objective-C, a time consuming and difficult programming language. Swift has brought some monumental changes to the Swift app development Company and the entire industry. For example, speed, security, user experience, and maintenance are some of its many advantages. In this article, we are going to dive deeper into the advantages and disadvantages of using the Swift programming language for iOS app development.
What is Swift Application Development?
Swift is a highly intuitive programming language launched by Apple Inc. and is used to build iOS native applications which run on the Apple and Linux operating systems. Though Linux is an independent platform, Apple operating system comprises a list of solutions like iOS for smartphones, macOS for Mac computers and iPadOS for iPads, watchOS for Apple watches and tvOS for Apple TV. Hence, there is a long list of applications that can be built using Swift.
Swift was introduced in 2014 as a replacement for Objective-C, which was used for iOS app development. Since its inception, Swift started gaining prominence and in 2015 it was established as an open-source platform. Most developers have a reason to believe that it is much easier to read and code than Objective-C.
As Swift is an open-source programming language, helper libraries, debugger, and package manager were launched under the Apache 2.0 license, and Swift.org was built to host that project. Due to this, any developer can obtain the source code on GitHub, develop it themselves, and even send extraction requests to aid the project.
Swift is a safe and secure platform for development. The iOS development language provides improved protection against errors and mistakes, which also improves its legibility. The most common way of writing code must be of a certain nature, that is safe. It is important to find development bugs and Swift does a great job of doing that.
Swift offers a rapid deployment due to its simple syntax. Actually, it is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C and up to 8.4 times faster than Python as per Apple’s own findings. The programming language takes advantage of an easy-to-use Syntax along with modern features that developers would love to use.
Importance of Using Swift Application Development in 2021:
Though it is a new platform, Swift is becoming the most commonly used programming language for iOS development in the world. Some of the popular brands that have already accepted Swift are Kickstarter, LinkedIn, Twitter and Whatsapp. Although there are some issues that need to be addressed, Swift is turning into a mature language that could eventually replace Objective-C as the go-to language for building iOS apps.
It is fast, secure, easy-to-use and hence Swift will assist businesses to satisfy the mobile app gap. Moreover, it has become a preferred choice for mobile app developers. Being an open-source platform, there is a major community behind it with contributions from developers around the globe. For organizations looking to switch to an open-source language with minimal efforts, Swift will be a major aspect for app development in the years to come.
Advantages of Using Swift Application Development:
Now, let us look at the advantages of using Swift as a programming language for iOS application development.
1. Easy Development Process
Swift provides an easy way of development. It does not push you to use complex syntax but has taken a page from other programming languages like Ruby and Python. This simplicity elevates the development process and makes it much faster than Objective-C.
The Swift programming language uses industry standards to write clean code. Whereas Objective-C has been known for its complex coding and hence Swift is rising in popularity. Reports suggest that Swift is definitely more concise than Objective-C and provides programmers with a way of replacing almost eighty percent of the code with the same results. From a development perspective, this is a major benefit. But, it also helps testers and QA teams making Swift a highly reputed platform.
2. Easy To Scale
Swift projects are typically easier to scale due to the low level of complexity. The important aspect is that Apple is more likely to support Swift than Objective-C in the coming years. Swift is the latest toy in the market and is deemed as the future. Objective-C has probably run its course and is less prevalent in the developer circle too.
Apart from that, Swift makes it easy to include more programmers in the project if required. Swift has the capability to add new developers to the team depending on the simplicity/complexity of the code. This is crucial for businesses as training employees takes a lot of time.
3. Enhanced Speed and Performance
Swift is a fast development language. Due to a shorter feedback circle, bugs can be easily identified and solved. Apart from this, robust coding and typing help avoid frequent code crashes. Another factor to include is that this speed benefit will only enhance over time as Swift continues to improve further.
As Swift is slated to replace C-based languages, it can be directly compared with these languages. Moreover, the performance of Swift is stable and not just fast, which requires necessary cleanup.
4. Decreased Memory Size
Swift provides dynamic libraries which is a huge plus point. Dynamic libraries are much better than static libraries for a number of reasons. Static libraries are locked into code when the program is being coded. This adds to the size of the program and increases its load time. Static libraries also do not automatically update and get stuck in the version they are compiled, unless there is external intervention.
Alternately, dynamic libraries that exist outside of the code are only updated when needed. Since Swift libraries are included in all macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS this helps in decreasing the application size significantly.
5. Swift Complements Objective-C
There are various reasons to use more than one development language in a project. At times, a lot of effort goes into building a framework. It can also take up to a few years. Redoing the whole framework to have a codebase in one language may not be optimum use of resources.
Though Swift and Objective-C are distinct and can be used either on their own or can be merged together. If you are interested, you can do it in two ways:
- It is possible to include new features in Swift to a current Objective-C project
- It is possible to use Objective-C in your Swift project.
Both these methods are compatible and can be used alternatively in the same project.
6. Automatic Memory Control (ARC)
Swift provides a smooth way of controlling app memory. This characteristic helps to avoid memory leaks through automatic reference counting. With the help of ARC, Swift identifies what instances are no longer required by the application. ARC will instantly remove it for the developer and help them enhance app performance without affecting the CPU.
7. Cross-Platform Support
Swift can be used with multiple Apple products and not just iOS – including macOS, tvOS and watchOS. Moreover, server-side Swift incorporates major backend technologies. By utilising it at the frontend and backend, applications can be developed faster. This is basically due to the reusability of code and impacts developer time and resource availability.
8. Strong Community
Swift has seen phenomenal growth due to the support of Apple and IBM. The is an active and dynamic user group and is the second most popular language on GitHub. It is possible that Swift still has places to go and will be the most influential programming language in the next couple of decades to come.
9. Improved Safety
Swift has an excellent typing system, coding and error fixing to identify bugs and avoid coding errors. With a reduced feedback loop, Swift enables developers to easily find bugs in their code and fix them instantly. Due to this, it creates a better chance to write high-quality code. Our developers believe that ensuring safety is time-consuming but the clarity will help you save time in the future.
Disadvantages of Using Swift Application Development:
We have already discussed the advantages of Swift in detail. But, there is always another side to a story. Though there are more advantages of using Swift, there are some aspects where it is lacking.
1. New Language
This can be considered a positive and negative aspect but for Swift, it is the latter. Swift has only been used since 2014 but Objective-C has been around for more than forty years now. Thankfully, Apple has identified this and the current update addresses this gap. The latest update introduces Application Binary Interface (ABI) stability across all Apple platforms. Moreover, it also adds backward compatibility of Swift along with proper documentation. However, Swift is basically limited to native libraries, tools and will be unstable after a new release.
2. Fewer Resources
This is because the language is still new and hence has a limited talent pool. It means that a small percentage of developers use Swift for iOS app development. Apart from a limited number of resources, only a few developers have actual experience with the language. It can make things difficult to hire new skilled developers.
3. Interaction with Third-Party Tools
Due to regular updates, it is difficult to find appropriate tools with Swift. Moreover, it is difficult to use external tools as Swift does not integrate well with IDEs. App developers frequently report problems related to syntax highlighting, autocompletion, refactoring and compilers. The official IDE (XCode) lags in terms of support but still manages to offer smooth navigation and an intuitive interface.
Swift is a new but fast progressing development platform for Apple operating systems which provides a great alternative to Objective-C. Most app developers prefer Swift over Objective-C because it is much easier to write, read, debug, maintain and provide modern development tools. In the meantime, many businesses are also beginning to hire mobile developers who work on Swift as it provides a robust iOS software solution in a cost-effective manner and at a faster rate.
Rajiv Patil is the founder & Managing Director of Nimblechapps, an innovative web development company. He takes a keen interest in topics related to mobile app development, web development, mobile game development etc and often like to express his thoughts through informative blogs.