The choice of programming language plays a critical role in deciding whether your app is a hit or a miss. Hence, while building an iOS app, choosing between the old-school objective-c and the next-gen Swift programming language is essential. If you can’t figure it out, you must approach an iOS app development company for the same.
This blog will discuss Objective-C and Swift in detail, their features, pros and cons, and when to choose which language. When you finish reading, you will know which language you must decide to build an iOS app and when. Let’s begin:
Brad Cox and Tom Love originally developed Objective-C as a general-purpose language for building iOS and MacOS applications in the early 1980s. It is an extension of the C language. It was the standard programming language for Apple’s iOS and macOS operating systems until the inception of Swift.
Since Objective-C is the strict superset of the C programming language, you can easily reuse existing code written in C language in your Objective-C applications, thus saving time and effort.
Features of Objective-C
- Since Objective-C is derived from the C programming language and adds small-talk style messaging, it has a verbose syntax that you may find complicated as a beginner.
- Objective-C supports features like objects, classes, inheritance, and polymorphism.
- Objective-C uses dynamic messaging to call objects. Hence, you don’t determine an object receiving a message until runtime.
- You can easily include C language code within an Objective-C class. As a result, you can easily port existing C code to an Object-C program without having to write it from scratch, saving you time and effort.
Pros of Objective-C
- Objective-C offers extensive documentation, as millions of lines of code have been written on it over the years. Hence, you can get an answer to every question and solve every problem you might face with Objective-C.
- The flexible nature of Objective-C allows you to make changes in the code whenever required at any stage of application development.
- Since Objective-C is a superset of the C programming language, it can seamlessly work with both programs written in C and C++.
- Objective-C is a decades-old programming language, and developers have tested and polished it over time. Hence, you can completely rely on it for developing high-performance iOS and macOS applications.
- Objective-C supports older versions of iOS. Hence, you don’t have to create separate versions of the iOS for different user groups.
Cons of Objective-C
- Since Objective-C is old, you won’t find support for its many libraries and tools. f
- Objective-C involves a learning curve because of its verbose style. Hence, developing iOS apps in it can take longer.
- Objective-C isn’t fast and efficient as it was not designed with performance in mind. Also, the programming language runs 2.6 times slower than Swift on massive data sets.
Swift is the modern counterpart of Objective-C programming that goes beyond traditional C and Smalltalk programming languages and embraces the features of modern programming languages. It is designed to make writing and maintaining the code easier for iOS app developers.
Features of Swift
- Swift uses simple and concise coding, meaning you must write fewer lines to perform the same coding operations as Objective-C.
- Maintaining the Swift code is easier because of easy scanning, strong type checking, and a built-in system for error handling.
- Swift offers quick bug recognition and fixing, which means you can easily write high-quality code free of errors.
- Swift’s concise syntax and security features make it easy for developers to build high-quality iOS apps.
- The syntax of Swift is simple and easy to understand, which makes the programming language an ideal choice for building iOS apps.
- The automatic memory management feature of Swift eliminates the worry of managing memory manually in iOS app development.
Pros of Swift
- Swift is fast as it was designed with performance in mind. It’s almost as much faster as C++.
- Swift requires much less code as it has a concise syntax, so you can significantly reduce your time and effort during iOS app development.
- Swift uses a built-in compiler for programming languages like Python, Ruby, C#, Scala, and Go. Hence, compiling the code is much easier.
- As compared to Objective-C, Swift is more secure against loopholes. It’s because the Swift programming language eliminates buffer overflows (a security loophole granting attackers access to sensitive customer details).
Disadvantages of Swift
- Swift is relatively new. Hence, it may not be compatible with older versions of iOS.
- While MacOS, iOS, Linux, and Windows support Swift, it still doesn’t work well for cross-platform apps. You don’t have the same results as React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter.
- The Swift programming language can’t handle you directly using C++ libraries.
Objective-C vs Swift: Which Programming Language You Must Use for Building Your iOS App?
The answer to this question depends on many factors, such as performance, maintenance, security, code complexity, and familiarity. Let’s compare both languages based on these factors:
While Swift is 2.6x faster as compared to Objective-C, according to Apple, both programming languages only slightly differ in speed.
Despite this, Swift has a simple syntax, and its compile-time type-checking reduces the work put in by a compiler. Also, the programming language uses value types instead of reference types, leading to better performance. Hence, Swift is the winner in terms of performance.
Maintenance is challenging with Objective-C because of its verbose syntax and lengthy code. Also, you need to handle two separate files.
However, maintenance is easier in Swift as it is more concise than Objective-C, as you have less to read and maintain. Also, the code is written clearly and readable, making it easy to understand and debug.
Overall, Swift is a better choice for maintenance as it is concise, modern, and expressive.
Swift is a memory-safe and type-safe language, making it more secure than the Objective-C programming language. Also, it has a clear code that you can easily understand and manage. This way, you can easily identify and rectify issues. Objective-C doesn’t offer the same ease as the language and is often difficult to read and comprehend.
4. Coding Complexity
Coding is complex in Objective-C as it involves writing lengthy code. However, Swift makes coding easy with a limited number of lines of code.
iOS developers are more familiar with Objective-C, as it has been around for decades. They can easily find documentation, help, and support for libraries. However, Swift is relatively new, so you would not find the same level of support in it.
Use Objective-C if:
- You’re developing high-performance iOS apps and games that require extra control and flexibility.
- You interact with legacy code or frameworks like Cocoa Touch or Cocoa.
- You’re more comfortable working with Objective-C than Swift.
Use Swift if:
- You’re building new iOS, macOS, and watchOS apps.
- You want to develop machine learning applications using TensorFlow.
- You want to develop games with SpriteKit or SceneKit.
Hopefully, the blog gave you enough idea of which programming language you must choose between Objective-C and Swift. Now, it’s time to make a choice and build the iOS app of your dreams. Best of luck!