The age-old rivalry between the two major programming languages of iOS continues as we step into a new decade. Objective-C was introduced in the early 1980s while Swift was added by Apple in 2014 as an alternative to the former which was more efficient. Apple states that there are 1.6 million Objective-C users as opposed to the 2.1 million Swift users.
In addition to that, SwiftUI is an extension to Swift which is a new software introduced by Apple in 2019. Unlike Apple’s UIKit and AppKit, SwiftUI wasn’t something alien to iOS developers. It provides everything from developing user interfaces like lists, buttons, stacks, pickers, and much more. So let’s dissect these two components comparatively to have a better understanding of which one fits the bill for your business.
Objective-C was developed in the early 1980s as an object-oriented programming language. Due to this, it allows its developers to solve complex issues and tasks with much convenience. However, for novice developers, the syntax can be difficult to understand due to the intricacies attached to the code.
Thanks to its compatibility with its counterparts Swift and C, Objective-C is still relevant these days despite being an older programming language. Although Swift might have more modern features than Objective-C, the latter still harbors a harmonious and established community.
There is one major issue that makes Objective-C not so ideal for a developer to choose. This is called manual memory management. This feature keeps apps functioning smoothly, the maintenance of which requires quite some time and effort. As a result, Swift can tackle this issue effortlessly which is why it has a higher user base than Objective-C.
Features of Objective-C
It is a given that Objective-C is still relevant these days despite not being in the same league as Swift. However, what features make that possible? Below are a few that will help you see the bigger picture when it comes to Objective-C:
1. Data Hiding
Objective-C utilizes this element as its security feature protecting data from unwanted users gaining access to it. This feature makes sure that there are no accidental changes to the code and that the data access is restricted to specific users.
As a developer of Objective-C, it is fairly obvious you would want to create classes while keeping an existing one in the program. This feature allows you to do that seamlessly. Apart from building classes, it allows you to reuse code, and extend the original program with the help of classes and interfaces accessible to them, while preserving the same features helps in designing a modification.
Users can access multiple objects through the same interface due to polymorphism. There are two kinds of polymorphism features: static and dynamic.
This feature allows developers to restrict other users from directly accessing the state values of every object variable. This feature also allows developers to hide data easily, flexibly set variables as either read or write-only, and adapt to newer requirements.
5. Fast Program
It is every developer’s nightmare to engage in coding and face the onslaught of delays from the programming software or language. With the fast program feature, you can make your programming much easier and smoother than usual due to its design.
Advantages of Objective-C
As there are multiple features of Objective-C, there are several ways to profit from those features as well. Some of these benefits are listed below:
1. Simple and Efficient
It is fairly simple and easy to learn Objective-C due to the structure and nature of the code. As a result, it becomes quite convenient for the developer to build a new application or even rebuild it. Due to this, Objective-C is frequently taught to budding developers as a learner’s language for programming.
2. iOS Compatibility
As efficient as Swift which was developed in recent years, Objective-C can be integrated with any version of iOS and is compatible with all of them. This compatibility comes from the prolonged existence of Objective-C over these years which has aided in developing multiple Apple iOS applications.
3. Function-rich libraries
The designers of this project have implemented a sizable collection of libraries that make the programming language much simpler due to the multiple built-in features. Programmers can also integrate their personalized user-design features into the language.
4. Abundant Tools
As Objective-C has been around for about 30 years now, it contains a plethora of tools. Some of these tools include Cocoa and Xcode frameworks offered by NeXT, Apple, and third-party contributors. These tools aid in the smooth functioning of Apple’s operating system which allows the developers to be more at ease while using it.
5. Ability to Extend
This programming language was developed so any program can be extended quite easily and conveniently. Hence, programmers can conveniently accumulate more and more functions in the software with a few variations.
Swift is the official programming language for iOS app development and was launched recently in 2014/15. With much resiliency to errors, Swift is easy to read and write. It can be used on multiple platforms and is also an open-source language. It can be integrated with Objective-C and used to develop applications on iOS, tvOS, macOS, watchOS, as well as Linux.
Features of Swift
Swift incorporates a few distinguishing features that are advanced developments of code C that make it easier to understand and write. Some of the features contain a robust error-solving system, a quick and precise version of a range of collections, generics that can be used conveniently, tuples, power flow control, a functional programming pattern, and multiple return values.
1. Easy To Learn
Due to its structure and nature, this makes it one of the easiest languages to master even for people without any prior coding experience. This language also includes a playground that allows beginners to easily understand and learn to use Swift.
2. Quick Processing Speed
The compiler for Swift is optimized already which is why it can send faster code across the board and refrains you from all the bookkeeping.
3. Automatic memory management system
Swift handles memory management through a feature called Automatic Reference Counting (ARC). This takes the stress off the developer killing time and effort in calculating the memory for a project to take.
4. Concise Code Syntax
Less coding is required to execute more information through Swift. It limits the coding numbers to a minimum when it comes to repetitive statements and string manipulation.
5. Safe and Secure
The safety while using this program limits the chances of making an error. Swift also induces runtime crashes that condition the developer to fix any bugs and issues in the code immediately.
Benefits of Swift
1. Quick and Instant
Due to its direct syntax, Swift can function at twice the rate of Objective-C. Newer and better features offered by Swift deliver convenience and ease to the developer which in Objective-C can be hard to find.
2. Automatic Reference Counting feature
This feature allows the developer to restrict an app’s memory usage. In return, this allows programmers to manage time much more efficiently.
3. Easy to Understand
4. Open-Source Community
Open source community in this sense is defined as a group of people who stay together and build projects and exchange ideas in similar areas of interest. This open-source community is publicly accessible to everyone and allows you to learn better ideas about the language through different developers.
5. Provides Playgrounds
The playgrounds option offered by Swift is an app you can install on your iPad, Mac, or iPhone to understand how to utilize the Swift algorithm and codes. This app can be utilized as a practice workstation to develop your Swift skills as a novice.
6. Safe and Error-free
While not 100% error-free, Swift avoids and omits paragraphs of unsafe code making your app more and more error-free. The compiler in Swift offers room for safer code writing and reduces the runtime errors in your code.
SwiftUI was developed by Apple in 2019. This framework provides a platform for developers to build user interfaces for apps based on tvOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and macOS. This tool, when integrated with the Swift programming language, delivers fast and efficient user interfaces for apps. An instance of this combination is the Swift chat app that allows different users across Swift to interact with each other.
This UI tool is programmed for cross-platform compatibility of apps designing visually pleasing UI interfaces for them. There is a declarative syntax in the works under this framework that commands the interface to look a certain way instead of following a bunch of procedural steps which separates it from UIKit. Hence, it is much easier and quicker to develop UI; however, customization options become more restricted.
Benefits of SwiftUI
1. Better Readability
Due to the code being precise and easy to understand, SwiftUI provides much more readable and manageable code. The need for large chunks of code is eliminated as SwiftUI allows the ability to develop simpler code accomplishing the same task.
2. Quicker Live Preview
Due to enhanced support for live preview, the design and development process takes off with more efficiency. SwiftUI allows you to preview the interface you have developed on different devices through all frames and orientations while working so you can view them and interpret them accordingly as you develop the code.
3. Develop Complex Features with Ease
Due to SwiftUI’s enhanced compatibility with frameworks such as RealityKit and Combine, it becomes much easier to develop complex features with reduced efforts along the development process. The intricate layering of UIKit is eliminated as SwiftUI allows the developer to build features such as asynchronous processes, and reactive programming, as well as augment reality.
4. Accessibility and Localization
SwiftUI provides improved support for accessibility and localization of apps with much convenience that were programmed for various languages and areas. For apps that have linguistic and cultural intricacy involved, SwiftUI simplifies their development by providing native support for dynamic type, localization, and accessibility labeling.
Picking the right tool for your app
When it comes to the sheer scale of developing apps, Swift has the edge over Objective-C since a majority of iOS apps used worldwide are built through Swift. Some of the examples include LinkedIn, Khan Academy, Wikipedia, Coursera, VSCO, etc. However, there are cases where Objective-C has provided better results than Swift:
- For a larger codebase developed in Objective-C, the addition of newer features and their maintenance is recommended to be done in itself. Even though Swift is interoperable (both languages can be used in a single project), multiple issues arise while changing the frameworks. One of the issues as such is the setback occurring in the developer’s productivity.
- For a developer savvy in C and C++ frameworks, Objective-C must be the go-to choice as Swift requires a separate wrapper that is to be developed to use it. As a result, it is much more convenient to go with Objective-C.
However, an app to be designed aside from the factors mentioned above should go through Swift for its development. Some of the other factors to consider are:
The TIOBE Index (an index for the most popular programming languages in the world) for November 2023 reveals that Swift ranks at No.17 while Objective-C goes further down to No.32. However, the PYPL (Popularity of Programming Index) suggests that Swift enters the leaderboard at 9 while Objective-C ranks just one below it at 10.
Community Support and Resources
The community for Objective-C is quite large and has developed a variety of tools and resources over the years. This facilitates developers to help each other out and find solutions for problems that they face together as a community.
However, the Swift community is not far behind either as it is gaining much limelight from the developers and Apple officials too. Since it is preferred by multiple developers around the world, Swift has a growing community and due to much better and efficient resources is highly beneficial to the developers of the platform.
Apple’s support has allowed Swift to become rapidly famous among the developers’ community.
As Swift has been gaining traction and evolving at such a pace, this community is only going to expand which will provide further support to the developers
As a result, when it comes to developing a new iOS app, it is important to determine the necessary programming language for the app to truly succeed. With the kind of language you pick, other choices down the line are decided as well such as frameworks and architectures. It is much quicker, more secure, and enjoyable to develop apps in Swift. However, it is important to consider the factors and conditions that determine the nature of your app and whether Swift is the right fit for it or Objective-C.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. Is Swift better than Objective-C?
It depends on the conditions in which you develop your app. However, on a grand scale, it can be concluded that Swift in recent years has proven to be a better programming language than Objective-C.
2. Which language is easier to learn: Swift or Objective-C?
For beginners, Swift is much easier and more convenient to learn and write. It is also more typesafe than Objective-C.
3. How safe is it to use both these languages?
Comparatively, Swift is much more secure and safer to use since it is less likely to incorporate runtime crashes in its code.
4. Which is the official programming language for Apple?
Swift is considered to be the official programming language for Apple since it is easy to learn and implement. It is also preferred due to its quick and safe framework.