Swift vs Objective C: Assessing Popular iOS Programming Languages


December 30, 2022


January 5th, 2023

iOS app development enjoys great demand worldwide. Creating mobile apps with iOS is much wanted and hence choosing the right iOS programming language is crucial. And when we talk about programming languages for iOS, two popular names that come forward are Swift and Objective C.

There has been a constant comparison between Swift vs Objective C. Both have their own fan base enjoying their key potentials, with certain similarities and certain differences. As you attempt to choose between Swift or Objective C, you must consider the pros, cons, features, and comparison details between the two.

Before we plunge into further details of both stalwarts of the iOS application development arena, let us take a glimpse at each of them individually.

Swift Programming Language – An Overview

Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language for iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. It is a general-purpose, high-level programming language that supports multiple devices and operating systems. Swift code is collaborative, and it has a brief syntax that is expressive with modernized features. The software created by Swift is fast and secure.

It was introduced by Apple in 2014 and is now considered the next-generation language for iOS app development. Swift app development is known for its modern and easy syntax. As an open-source language, it is compatible with Objective C also. Swift offers automatic memory management, and variable initialization prior to obstacles and prevents integers from overflowing their assigned memory.

Objective C – An Overview

Objective C is the primary programming language you use when writing software for OS X and iOS. It’s a superset of the C programming language and provides object-oriented capabilities and dynamic runtime. What is Objective C – it is an object-oriented and general-purpose language, it made its entry in 1984 and since then, it has been offering multiple features to developers.

It was acquired by Apple in 1997 and was the main language to develop iOS apps until 2014 when Swift entered. It is a procedural-oriented, functional, small-talk style messaging language and possesses maximum features of C and C++. It is a superset of the C language and dynamically loads the code. It is reflective and class-based with static and dynamic typed programming features.

Swift vs Objective C: Key Features

Features of Swift Programming Language
  • Automatic memory management system with support for Automatic Reference Counting (ARC)
  • Concise code syntax empowering developers to manage with lesser code
  • Faster code generation with an optimized compiler
  • Powerful error handling with a better understanding of code
  • Closures unified with function pointers
  • Structs that support methods, extensions, and protocols
  • Quick and concise iteration
Features of Objective C
  • Good memory management
  • Encapsulation limiting users from direct access
  • Inheritance for creating classes, reusing code
  • Support for binary frameworks
  • Data protection from unwanted access
  • Access to different objects through the same interface
  • Support for object-oriented concepts

Swift vs Objective C: Pros and Cons

Pros of Swift Language
  • Fast, seamless coding with simple and concise syntax
  • Easy to grasp and learn, apt for novices too
  • Open-source, secure, and reduces classes of unsecured code
  • Interactive playgrounds application for faster learning
  • Enhances readability with its consistent code
  • Increased memory management
Cons of Swift Language
  • Relatively new with frequent updates leading to incompatibility with earlier versions
  • Lack of backward compatibility
  • Less compatible IDEs and third-party tools
Pros of Objective C
  • Fast, quick, and efficient coding
  • Easy extension of the program through new functions
  • A vast variety of tools for smooth functioning
  • Seamless compatibility with almost all versions of iOS
  • Effortless and extendable functions to current software
  • Stable, tested for years, compatibility with C and C++
Cons of Objective C
  • Takes time to program
  • Complex and tiresome coding
  • No support for operator overloading

Objective C vs Swift: The Organizations Using Them


Companies Using Swift
  • Lyft
  • Uber
  • Glovo
  • Delivery
  • Hero
  • Slack
  • Robinhood
  • Tech Stack
  • CRED
  • Facebook
  • IBM
  • Spin
  • AT&T
  • Wellframe

Good Read: Top 20 Popular Apps Built Using Swift

Companies Using Objective C
  • Uber
  • Pinterest
  • Snapchat
  • Slack
  • Instagram
  • Glovo
  • Tokopedia
  • Instacart
  • Delivery Hero
  • Square
  • Telegram
  • Fiverr


Swift vs Objective C: Which to Choose for iOS App Development?

Parameters Swift Objective C
Introduction A general-purpose, high-level programming language, developed by Chris Lattner, started in 2014 An object-oriented, general-purpose language, developed by Brad Cox and Tom Love, in 1984
Influenced by Objective C, Rust, Python, Ruby Smalltalk, C
Type Static type uses value types, which helps in avoiding issues Dynamic type, variables can hold values of any type,
License Apache-licensed General Public License
Designed For Creating applications for Apple TV, iOS, Mac, and Apple Watch Creating smalltalk messaging features
Classes Supports only classes Supports both structs and classes
Polymorphism Polymorphism does not exist directly but lets you write code that can be applied Polymorphisms exist directly in compile time and can be used to extend the functionality
Development Environment Xcode, Swift Playground, Cocoa Touch, etc. Mainly Xcode
Theory Declares type-level methods for calling implemented functionalities Makes use of messages for calling implemented functionalities
Boolean Operators Uses true and false values Uses YES, NO values
Templates & Libraries Offers a diverse range of library supports Does not have a variety of templates and libraries
Community Support Growing community support from Apple and other organizations Lesser community support from Apple and other organizations
Documentation Growing and constantly updated documentation Detailed documentation that is sufficient
Writing Variables Allows users to write variables without mentioning data types, support for some fixed data types Allows users to write variables while mentioning the data types, allows all types of variables
Coding Speed Swift has a faster coding speed due to easy syntax and less strict rules Objective C has a tougher coding standard due to difficult syntax
Compatibility with Platforms Backward compatibility is not supported and hence needs updates while changing versions Compatible with all versions of iOS and does not need change with every new version
Maturity Levels Swift is young, bright, and on its way to attaining increasing maturity Objective C is experienced and hence has completely matured
Code Safety Fast bug recognition and fixing NOP because of null pointers leading to bugs
File Maintenance Single code file maintenance Two code file maintenance
Syntax English-like coding style leading to the simple development strategy Utilization of symbols and parentheses
Code Length Fewer lines of code and a brief coding pattern Extensive and verbose coding pattern
Memory Management Usage of ARC supporting all APIs Support for ARC only with Cocoa API
Library Support Integration support for dynamic libraries Integration support for static libraries
Support for Operators Arithmetic, Logical, Bitwise, Relational, Assignment, Range, Miscellaneous Logical, Arithmetic, Bitwise, Relational, Assignment
Support for Components Supports Functions, Dictionaries, Closures, Structures, Enumerations, Typecasting, Optional chaining, Generics, etc. Supports Extensions, Dynamic Binding, Protocol, Posing, Memory Management, Auto generation of accessors, etc.
Method Calling Calling a method is fixed at compile time Calling a method is fixed at runtime with the addition of classes
Error Handling Errors can be managed with the help of protocols Errors can be handled with nil by sending messages to nil objects
Operator Overloading There is support for global operator overloading with a lot of capacity and simplicity No support but can be implemented through various methods
Long Term Support Fastly progressing language Continuous support by Apple

Good Read: React Native vs Swift: Performance, Development, And Speed Comparison

Summing It Up: Objective C vs Swift

The constant comparison between Swift and Objective C doesn’t seem to be wading off, in fact, it is getting interesting by the day. In the world of mobile app development, one of them is a traditional choice with years of experience and the other is a young one with modern features. Both have their pros and cons. As you compare Objective C vs Swift, you observe that both are supported by Apple and enjoy a huge fan following.

When you set out to select the apt iOS programming language for your project and evaluate Swift Versus Objective C, here are a few parameters that must be kept in mind – skills available in the team, project timelines, project size, budgeted costs, future of the project, etc. Swift is relatively new and, hence offers modern solutions. Objective-C is traditionally old and offers a lot of experienced solutions.

Based on the above evaluation and experience, here is when to select what while analyzing Objective-C vs Swift.

Choose Swift if:

  • You need a modernized language
  • Readability and performance are vital to your project
  • There is no previous codebase
  • You need competent resources quickly
  • There is a need for easily maintainable code

Choose Objective-C if:

  • You are an expert in C, C++, Objective-C
  • Your project needs to support older versions of iOS
  • There is a need to inherit the codebase written in Objective-C
  • You have a large app written in Objective-C

When we assess Swift Vs Objective-C, Swift is the language of the future but then Objective-C is old and hence gold.

To each their own!

Choose either – Objective-C vs Swift and it is a beneficial deal.


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