We live in a world where our mobile devices are everything. We use them every day, and many of us would be lost without them. But perhaps the most popular and prestigious of them is the Apple iPhone. Running what most developers consider one of the best-operating systems (iOS), iPhones are everywhere. Therefore, it’s no wonder people want to develop applications for the system. However, before you even begin development on an iOS app, there are a few things you need to determine. For example, the kind of programming language you’re going to use! That’s probably the most important question. So, let’s focus on that today. After all, the programming language is the backbone of your app!

While developing iOS applications sounds easy on paper, it’s a little more complex than command over coding or knowing the technology, functions and features. You need to understand the programming language too! That means the pros, the cons, and the differences in features.

Native iOS apps will generally use one of the two programming languages. And iPhone app developers will need to decide which they will require to meet their iOS app demands. The first of these two, Objective-C, is older, and the second, Swift, is a modern programming language.

When developing an iOS app, note that both languages have advantages and disadvantages. So, here’s what you’ll need to consider:

  • Speed and performance
  • Null pointers and code safety
  • Two-file vs one file maintenance and compilation
  • Syntax
  • Code length, time efficiency, and complexity
  • Memory management of Objective-C vs Swift
  • Dynamic vs static libraries
  • The future of the programming languages

Objective-C Defined by iPhone App Developers

Objective-C is a simple programming language for iPhone app developers with an easy learning curve. It was developed in the 1980s to amplify object-oriented programming. So essentially, it’s old-school.

But after much success and popularity, NeXT Computer, Inc acquired the programming language; it has since been used to develop frameworks. Eventually, Apple purchased this programming language — that’s where we find ourselves today! As a result, Objective-C is now a standard when developing an iOS app.

So, iOS and iPhone app developers widely regard it as the best programming language. It enables them to easily develop, produce, and create sophisticated object-oriented programming tasks. However, Objective-C continues to evolve far beyond the standard ANSI C language through the years! It now contains an entirely new set of extensions! And these extensions push Objective-C’s functionality and provide depth that was once missing with the ANSI C language of old.

iPhone App Developers Insight – Main Aspects of Objective-C

There are several stand-out features and aspects of Objective-C. Firstly, it’s much easier to pick up and learn than other similar programming languages. After all, it’s been around for quite a while. Over 30 years, to be exact. And in that time, many iPhone app developers have explored it in its entirety. However, Objective-C isn’t recommended for projects of high complexity.

There’s no hiding that the object-oriented programming language took the world by storm when it was first released. But it’s showing its age when you look at it today. The language can be tough for iPhone app developers as it does not offer the most modern features and functions developing an iOS app requires. And it’s this functionality and feature set that makes it a problem when fleshing out your app.

Here are some of the main features of Objective-C:

  • Classes are objects
  • Dynamic typing
  • Optional static typing
  • Categories
  • Message sending
  • Expressive message syntax
  • Introspection
  • Dynamic run-time

Swift Defined by iPhone App Developers

Next, we have the one and only Swift. It’s a modern programming language similar to JavaScript, Python, and C#. That’s why many modern-day developers find it easy to work with compared to the previous programming language, Objective C.

Swift is much younger than its big brother, Objective-C. So, as a newer language, it still has a long way to go. Development of the former began back in 2010, but Swift has only been accessible since 2014! This means it went active only four years after it began. But since then, it has gone through many changes, with the current version being Swift 5.5.

The newer versions of Swift have seen massive improvements. For example, Async/await. It is a feature that introduced asynchronous functions in Swift. Meanwhile, Structured Concurrency introduced new approaches for developers to execute it.

iPhone App Developers Insight – Main Aspects of Swift

While Objective-C requires a lot of in-depth code to analyze, Swift is different. As a result, it’s simpler to apply when developing a modern application. Also, it can meet the increasing demand for features and functionality while speeding up the process.

Swift doesn’t place iPhone app developers in tough situations where they need to deal with lengthy and challenging coding problems. For example, Objective-C will require placeholders or tokens. But Swift is easy! You don’t need to follow the rigid structure of the previous language. That’s why it’s a much better fit for anyone developing an iOS application today.

Here are some of the main features of Swift:

  • Closures unified with function pointers
  • Tuples and multiple return values
  • Generics
  • Fast and concise iteration over a range or collection
  • Structs that support methods, extensions, and protocols
  • Functional programming patterns, e.g., map and filter
  • Powerful error handling built-in
  • Advanced control flow with do, guard, defer, and repeat keywords

Understanding the Better Language for iPhone App Developers Developing an iOS App

Above, we spoke about the two main programming languages used to develop an iOS app. But to help you understand which is a better fit, our team will discuss their differences in more detail. There are many pros and cons to Swift and Objective-C, and it’s best to analyze the data before proceeding with your app development. So here is what we’re taking a look at:

1. Speed and Performance of Swift and Objective-C

Apple says Swift is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C. But, it isn’t in every case. So, despite Swift 5.1 coming with significant improvements to RC optimization, there is work to be done to hit a consistent 2.6x performance increase.

On the other hand, Objective-C Is Runtime Code Compilation Based, and its design is not to be a fast-performing language. Instead, Objective-C uses run-time code compilation, resulting in slow performance.

2. Null Pointers and Code Safety

Swift’s development is to improve code safety for iPhone app developers. It is both type-safe and memory-safe. Type Safety prevents type errors in coding. At the same time, Memory-safety helps developers avoid vulnerabilities with uninitialized or dangling pointers.

These errors are difficult for iPhone app developers. After all, finding bugs within lines of code can be time-consuming and tiring when developing an iOS app. Therefore, eliminating these errors makes Swift faster and safer for iOS app development.

3. Two-File Vs. One-File – Maintenance and Compilation

App maintenance is different for both Objective-C and Swift. It depends on the number of files developers need to manage. Objective-C maintenance is more time-consuming than it is for Swift developers. Objective-C depends on its parent language C. Thus, limiting functionality when developers need to make changes to the code.

Swift relies on A Single Program Code File Base. Therefore, application maintenance is much easier. Xmind and Swift’s LLVM compiler also allow a certain degree of automation within processes.

4. Code Syntax

Swift is very modern, and it showcases it in its development. It was originally designed by Apple to be a simple and easily understandable language. However, apple’s idea was to encourage newer developers to learn the language. As a result, it promoted the development of more iPhone apps populating Apple’s Appstore.

Objective-С, on the other hand, was developed back in the 1980s, and it is a more complex language to learn. Since then, there have been shifts in industry standards towards a more concise programming language such as Swift. So, learning Swift is like picking up JavaScript or Python. That’s why many developers find it much easier.

5. Code Length, Time-Efficiency, and Complexity

Maintaining and updating any string of code takes time. But finding bugs is more complicated when the code is harder to work with. That’s why many iPhone app developers are choosing between Objective-C and Swift.

Objective-C is code-heavy and verbose, while Swift is easier in code length and complexity. Therefore, Swift requires less code to execute the same tasks. And that’s exactly what helps it reduce the number of crashes. Moreover, it also reduces the chances of errors in statements or token placements.

To sum up, Swift is simpler and more efficient to manage for iPhone app developers.

6. Objective-C Vs. Swift – Memory Management

When coding with Objective-C, developers get support with the Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) within the object-oriented code. But this limits its ability to access code written in C or other APIs.

However, large memory leaks are not possible with Swift because it directly improves on Objective-C’s limitations. Swift’s ARC has both object-related paths and procedural paths. This ensures it stays more focused and compact.

ARC is for both languages, and this benefits programmers without the need for much manual labour. However, Objective-C’s ARC has limited functionality. For example, it only supports the Cocoa API, Apple’s macOS native application programming interface. On the other hand, Swift supports ARC across various APIs. Thus, developers can focus on other tasks that create better iPhone apps.

To summarize, Swift has better support for ARC. On the other hand, Objective-C is more limited in terms of the APIs it supports.

7. Dynamic Vs. Static Program Libraries

There are differences in how both languages handle their libraries. These can be static or dynamic. While dynamic libraries are linked directly to your app, static libraries are linked with the final step of a compilation process. Thus, the latter comes after the placement in memory.

Dynamic libraries are linked to programs during run-time. Meanwhile, shared code can be used by several programs.

Objective-C is dependent on the use of static libraries. It does not support dynamic libraries, which is a huge disadvantage because dynamic libraries are significantly smaller. However, Swift does work with dynamic libraries. These libraries help your app’s performance and reduce file size.

In essence, the use of static libraries makes Objective-C, a worse performer. On the other hand, swift blazes ahead with dynamic.

8. The Future of the Two Programming Languages

Objective-C has a monopolistic hold over the world of iOS app development. But that’s changing now! Since the arrival of Swift, Objective-C’s popularity has been dropping with iPhone app developers. With Apple backing the language, it’s no surprise that we see it grow.

Apple’s team of iPhone app developers supports iOS development with Swift. They roll out new features and release newer versions of the language. But Objective-C isn’t receiving the same love or attention. And while it hasn’t disappeared yet, there’s still a chance it will eventually go unsupported. After all, younger developers learn the newer Swift and leave the older Objective-C in the dust.

The industry is moving towards adopting Swift. It’s endorsed by Apple and is easier to use than Objective-C.

Concluding Swift Vs. Objective-C

With the programming landscape changing, it’s important to ask the right questions. For example, “When should you choose Objective-C or Swift? What language is your team familiar with? Is Swift faster?”

Swift is the industry standard for iPhone app developers and a premium choice as a programming language for developing an iOS app. That’s why many of the best iPhone app development companies are already using it or transitioning to using it in the future.

For your business to survive, you will need to consider your team migrating to Swift. Learning the language and transitioning is possibly the best future-proofing strategy you can adopt. Give your developers time to pick up Swift or hire a mobile app development team already experienced in Swift.

There are many ways to solve the development problems of iPhone app developers. But we hope our team has helped you understand the benefits and negatives of the two programming languages. After all, iOS is a great platform to develop for. We hope your journey leads you to new development solutions.

Author

Jim S. Kilburn is a tech enthusiast with a way with words. He enjoys reading and writing about everything related to technology. Jim joined AppSocio as a technical writer a few years ago, and his posts are one of the most read by our audience. He enjoys knitting and karaoke (even though he’s terrible at both).

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