Apple’s Swift Programming Language Makes Surprise Debut

June 17, 2014 - 2 minutes read

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Apple made a surprise announcement this past Monday at the company’s annual Worldwide Development Conference by unveiling Swift, a new programming language which is expected to supplant Objective-C, the current standard. The company also confirmed that Swift and Objective-C will share LLVM complier and runtime, allowing them to operate simultaneously within the same piece of software.

According to Apple, Swift will unify the procedural and object-oriented positions of the programming language. However, there are several key differences between Swift and Objective-C, including syntactic divergences and the inclusion of numerous variable types, including optional types and tuples. Swift will also allow programmers to enact remainder operations on floating-point numbers, and it also supports Objective-C’s current Cocoa and Cocoa Touch capabilities.

Additional key features of Swift include:

  • Closures with function pointers for unification
  • Multiple return values
  • Tuples
  • Quick, accurate iteration capabilities over ranges and collections
  • Structs for supporting protocols, methods and extensions
  • Map and filter programming patterns

Apple also said that Swift was designed specifically to improve safety and security, and that it will be fully integrated into the company’s Xcode IDE update. It will also include an interactive feature called Playground, which will allow developers to view the effects of code edits in real time. Swift will also be supported by Xcode’s signature debugging console.

This announcement is big news for iPhone app developers. Swift will be faster, with complex object sorts running almost four times faster than Python, while Objective-C is just 2.8 times faster than Python. The new language is also designed for superior simplicity, as Objective-C was notoriously difficult for new developers and programmers to learn.

What’s more is that iPad app developers in Chicago and around the world will also benefit from improved accessibility. Early reviews of the language’s documentation indicate that it will make developing apps for Apple platforms easier and more intuitive.

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