Swift programming language is announced as the future of the Apple universe

At Apple’s WWDC today, the company debuted some pretty ‘meh’ changes to iOS7; iOS8, which will be available to download in the Autumn of this year, might have more appropriately been named iOS7.1.

Amongst the multi-threaded workflow and invasive notifications—so I can be distracted by Twitter even more often—was one shining gem: Apple have a new programming language.

It’s significant, not because it’s powering anything yet, but because it will more than likely power everything developed by and for Apple for the next decade and beyond. It’s significant because all of those hours spent staring at Objective-C until you finally gave in and switched to PhoneGap are no longer relevant.

The new language, named Swift (for obvious reasons), is designed to deliver the power of a full programming language with the simplicity of a scripting language.

Swift will inspire a whole new generation of application developers and it may be enough to ensure Apple fights off the rising challenge of most developers’ platform of choice, Android.

Naturally Swift is object orientated, but Apple believe its syntax is simple enough to ensure that even novice coders will enjoy picking it up. The key to Swift is that it enforces very rigid constraints on the developer: namespaces are a feature, as is Objective-C’s dynamic object model.

The exciting thing is that anything up to and including an operating system can be built with a syntax that JavaScript (and moreso—dare I mention its name?—Actionscript 3) developers will find instantly recognizable.

If you want to get a jump-start on Swift development, Apple have released a free eBook, which you can download now.

  • designcouch

    I personally think that the keynote was far from ‘meh’ – that seems to be the in-fashion response to them the last few years though, so to each their own. Swift in specific excites me because it’s going to lower the knowledge barrier for devs like myself who primarily develop for the web to start coding native apps for iOS. Just my two cents.

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      Really? ‘Meh’ is in fashion for Apple?

      Granted they haven’t come out with anything quite as exciting as the original iPhone in some time, but they’re still the market leader in North America.

    • Demongo

      Why would you move from developing for the web to start coding native apps for iOS. Why would you move to a propriety in-house Apple only language. There are reams of excellent, well supported, well tooled cross platform systems out there which would allow you to target iOS, Android, WinPho, BB and others in the future.

      Why limit yourself and get tied in?

      • Gary Hicks

        What would be your recommendation then, as opposed to Swift?

      • designcouch

        What in my comment implied that I was going to move exclusively in that direction? I’m a designer; the languages I can use to make practical use of my designs aren’t limited. Something like Swift simply makes native app development in iOS much more accessible.

        Also going to posit this: I think that Swift will be open sourced once adoption rates go up, just like Webkit. This would make sense on multiple different levels.

        All that being said, I’m definitely not abandoning web development; simply broadening the ways that I can build cool stuff.

  • none

    I’m putting my money on web technologies. They could’ve just used javascript….

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      The problem with using JavaScript is that it’s hard to develop a language that you don’t control. You only have to compare the development of JavaScript with the development of Actionscript to see that when a company’s profits are involved a language can improve rapidly.

      If Apple had taken JavaScript and added the more OOP elements of Swift they’d have (rightly) been accused of hijacking the language.

      • Byron Houwens

        Yeah I agree with this. Plus I don’t think large companies with money invested in their mobile offerings are ever going to turn to “open source” techs like Javascript or PHP (especially Apple).

        But it is really nice to see how close to these languages Swift is. It adds some really nice OOP and C-style features that’ll be familiar to web devs and easier to pick up for newbies. That, and it has a syntax almost as elegant as Ruby’s

  • Joost Brommert

    You think over 4000 new features is not enough to call it iOS8?

    • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

      Obviously they can call it iOS4000 if they feel like it. But for me, a whole version number change necessitates core changes and revisions that I don’t think they’ve added. As I said above, to me it feels more like an improved iOS7, than an iOS8.

      • Tim

        Mavericks shouldn’t have been 10.9 either, but so what. What version is Chrome at now?

      • Doc Pixel

        Please explain why the front-facing (UX) used by millions shouldn’t “feel” slightly improved intentionally… while behind the scenes all kinds of disruptive changes and technologies are battling it out on the processor.

      • http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/ Benjie — WebdesignerDepot

        Of course it should. But let’s not pretend that fixing problems that shouldn’t exist constitute a whole new product.

        If Apple applied the same logic to the hardware then the iPhone 5s would be the iPhone 8.

      • Tim

        “let’s not pretend that fixing problems that shouldn’t exist constitute a whole new product”
        Sounds like Adobe’s model for the last 10 years.

  • p1bk

    So… its objectiveVBScript?

  • MyName

    There is a first Swift resouce center and a forum, join: moourl.com/tm3w2

  • iGerbil

    Just found a nice Swift training, it gives you a feeling what it’s all about….