Unveiled at this year’s Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Swift is the new programming language introduced to replace Objective-C. Four years in the making, the language is set to transform programming for iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite whilst also being impeccably compatible with Objective-C and Cocoa. Although the language is still in development, with new features expected as time goes by, it seems to be meeting its brief – making programming simpler, more accessible and more secure.
Due to its recent release, programmers are still exploring the possibilities attached to Swift. Designed with functionality in mind, the language introduces several features which enable it to be used effectively, including the ‘Playground’. This interactive environment allows programmers to experiment with codes as they type, saving time and providing valuable feedback, including highlighting errors and explaining their cause. This may be of particular interest to those unused to programming languages which offer type inference, a feature which can increase the speed of coding and can help prevent bugs caused by type errors. Several other features set Swift apart from its predecessors and most of these are set to make the programmer’s life easier; tuples, multiple return values, generics, structs and programming patterns are all useable and serve to enhance user experience.
Developers can currently design new apps and add new features to existing ones using Swift if they download Xcode 6 beta. Creating and upgrading apps is made especially easy by the Swift’s ability to work with and alongside Objective-C, but it is important to remember that apps will not be able to be submitted to the App Store until iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite become available to the public in the autumn. Although some believe that the new language is also set to make adapting apps for rival platforms more challenging, the language’s speed and ease of use mean it will probably be welcomed by most. One thing’s for sure – the latest innovations in the Apple pipeline are sure to impress fans and rivals alike and are setting a high standard in usability.