With the announcement of Swift, Apple has once again significantly changed the landscape of mobile application development. By introducing a custom-built language for use in conjunction with its hardware and software, the tech giant is certainly doing nothing to allay complaints of its “walled garden” approach to product integration; however, the new language does hold promises of making it easier to “grow” software within the garden.
As with any major development, it will be at least a year before we ultimately see how successful Swift becomes. In the meantime, here’s a couple of key ideas to keep in mind as the language becomes more widely used:
- Objective-C and C will no longer be the primary language for iOS development – if Apple has shown us anything in the past, it’s that always their way or the highway. The company has likely invested millions in this language, and they’ll be damned if they aren’t going to eventually force every iOS developer to eventually begin writing applications using Swift and Swift only.
- Swift will allow for faster development times – the “playground” feature of the Swift language will allow developers to test certain code sections without having to do a full compile of the application. This will ultimately make for cheaper and faster development, since most developers won’t have to spend countless hours waiting for a full build to be compiled in order to test just one feature of the app.
- Crash protection – Swift contains certain built-in safeguards that will prevent an app from crashing when it encounters an unexpected data type. One of the overarching benefits of Swift emphasized by Apple is that the language is more forgiving of minor programming errors.
This is but the briefest of brief takes on the overall implications of Apple’s new programming languages. The hidden quirks, tips, and tricks of the language will undoubtedly be discovered in the coming months, and I’m sure we’ll all be seeing panicked Swift queries on Stack Overflow soon enough.
If you have any questions about iOS 8, OS X Yosemite, Swift, or any other development related question, let us know, and we’d be glad to help.