In past, iPhone apps were only developed in Objective-C but from last few years Swift language is launched by Apple which is now used by most of the iOS developers. So general question arises in everyone’s mind, that which one is better.
Objective-C was created by Brad Cox and Tom Love in the early 1980s at their company name Stepstone. Objective-C was licensed by NeXT Computer, Inc. in 1988 to develop the NeXTStep frameworks and was eventually acquired by Apple. After this, it become the standard language for the development of iOS application.
Objective-C is basically developed from the combination of two languages: C and Smalltalk. It derives its object syntax from Smalltalk, while syntax for non-object-oriented operations is the same as in C.
Swift is a new programming language for iOS applications. Swift development was started in 2010 by Chris Lattner, with the collaboration of many other programmers at Apple Inc. It was first released for public on June 2, 2014. Swift become open source in 2015.
Swift has been influenced from Objective - C, Rust, Ruby, Python and some other languages. Most of the developers and companies are shifting to Swift from Objective-C. It is now gaining huge popularity among developers.
Objective - C vs Swift
- Safety and Security
In present world, where there is so much competition a safe and secure app is a needed. Apps developed with both Objective - C and Swift are safe and secure. In Objective - C, if a value was returned from a method, it was the programmer’s responsibility to document the behaviour of the pointer variable returned (using comments and method-naming conventions). In Swift, Swift indirectly alerts programmers with compiler error suggesting that a bad code is written. This means the bug will be fixed sooner or avoided entirely in Swift code.
Objective-C had two separate files that developers were supposed to manage to boost efficiency and building time on any application. Swift, however, is free from such interdependencies because it eliminates two-file requirement with a single code file (.swift) which combines Objective-C header (.h) and implementation file (.m). So from maintenance point, Swift need less maintenance.
- Dynamic iOS Libraries
Dynamic libraries have never been supported on iOS until the launch of Swift and iOS 8, even though dynamic libraries have been supported on Mac for a very long time. Dynamic libraries are executable chunks of code that can be linked to an app. This feature allows current Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language as it evolves over time. Dynamic iOS Swift libraries are flexible to allow apps to update to newer, evolved version of Swift language.
- Open-Source and name collisions
Swift was made open source in 2015. As an open source project, Swift proposes additional advantages to its users and one of them is reducing name collisions that were common in Objective-C. One issue that has plagued Objective-C code is its lack of formal support for namespaces, which was C++’s solution to code filename collisions. When this name collision happens in Objective-C, it is a linker error, and the app can’t run. Workarounds exist, but they have potential pitfalls. The common convention is to use a two- or three-letter prefixes to differentiate Objective-C code that is written, say, by Facebook versus your own code.
Swift provides implicit namespaces that allow the same code file to exist across multiple projects without causing a build failure and requiring names like NSString (Next Step — Steve Jobs’ company after being fired from Apple) or CGPoint (Core Graphics). Ultimately, this feature in Swift keeps programmers more productive and means they don’t have to do the bookkeeping that exists in Objective-C.
In Modern times, high speed is required and Swift is completely fulfilling this requirement. Swift has proven to be the language swimmingly faster and consistent in its performance than Objective-C or any other language used for iOS app development.
- Memory Management
One of the Objective-C problems is ARC (Automatic Reference Counting), that is supported within the Cocoa API and object-oriented code. However, the code is not available for procedural C code and such APIs as Core Graphics. That leads to the huge leaks of memory. Swift has solved this problem by making ARK complete with the procedural and object-oriented code paths. Now coders can focus on the app logic and its features instead of managing memory within an app.
Both Swift and iOS have their own importance in app development. To develop a project in iOS, choosing one out of them is a very crucial. Swift is faster, safer and more enjoyable from developer’s perspective. Swift is great, but it is not a silver bullet. There are so many cases where Objective - C may be the right choice. It is old but it has its own importance. However, the ultimate choice between Swift and Objective-C depends on the app size, team strengths, technical awareness and project deadline.