Have you used an iPhone or iPad today? What about an Apple Watch or the Apple TV? If so, then you’ve encountered Swift.

Swift is a general purpose, open-source programming language developed by Apple for use across all of its operating systems. It was initially released in 2014 as a safe, fast and expressive language, designed to replace C-based languages in the development of iOS apps. Since then, it has been integrated into all of Apple’s operating systems (iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS).

Despite being a newer programming language, its short syntax, easy readability and maintainability and safety features have quickly made it a favorite among programmers. If you have yet to learn Swift, here’s everything you need to know about the language and why you might find it useful throughout your coding career! 

What is Swift?

Swift was built by Apple to build on the techniques learned in Objective-C, modernized and optimized to work within their OS environments. Apple built on decades of programming language research to create the powerful programming language, complete with highly requested features and easy-to-understand Syntax. Even though it was developed in-house, Apple knew they would need to rely on the greater coding community to grow the language. Therefore, Swift was designed as an open source platform and has acquired a large number of third-party libraries and tools.

Since its introduction in 2014, Apple has released five main versions of Swift with Linux and Windows support being added in 2016 and 2020 respectively. Over the years, demand for programmers with Swift experience has grown. By 2021, it ranked as the 20th most popular programming language on Stack Overflow (above Objective C, which it is meant to replace) and as the 8th “most loved” language. Swift is especially popular in the U.S., where iOS holds the majority market share among mobile devices at 56.7 percent to rival Android’s 43 percent. 


How does Swift differ from Objective-C?

Since its’ inception eight years ago, Swift has rapidly overtaken Objective-C to become the most popular language on Apple’s platform. However, Apple has thus far not announced any plans to sunset Objective-C support, so both languages remain in use. 

Swift has been referred to as “Objective-C, without the C.” Here are the main ways it differs from its predecessor:

  • Header files – You won’t find these in Swift. The new language allows developers to write a single.swift file that contains header information, properties and all class definitions into a single file. 
  • Testing – Swift offers “Playgrounds,” an environment where developers can write code and have it evaluated immediately. 
  • Type Inference – In Swift, the compiler can automatically infer the type based on the objects assigned to a variable.
  • Compatibility – Objective-C-based apps can run on any available version of iOS, while Swift requires iOS 7 or higher. 


Why is Swift Useful?

It’s quite obvious why working within the Apple ecosystem requires a mastery of Swift. But even if you don’t necessarily see yourself as an app developer, you could find knowing the language useful, as it and Apple gain further adoption throughout the world. Here are a few great reasons to keep Swift in your developer toolbox.

  1. Built for Speed – Apple boasts the language is up to 2.6X faster than Objective-C and 8.4X faster than Python. Easier Syntax and friendly developer environments can help you finish projects quicker. 
  2. And Built for Safety – Swift has a number of safeguards in place that can prevent errors and improve readability.
  3. A Growing Ecosystem – In March 2019, Apple launched Swift 5.0, which introduced a stable version of the application binary interface (ABI). This helps developers use swift across all OSs, including (macOS,tvOS, WatchOS and iPadOS). The language is also now backwards compatible and supported on Windows and Linux. 
  4. Rapid Development Process – This clean and expressive language is concise and easy to read and write. Some of the many intuitive features include inferred type, unicode-correct string, UTF-8 based encoding and automatically managed memory.
  5. Great First Language – Apple designed Swift to open the doors to coding for those of all skill levels and ages. Apple has created a free curriculum for teachers and released “Swift Playgrounds,” a free iPad app designed to make Swift coding interactive and fun. 
  6. Dynamic Libraries – Libraries are integrated into every Swift release. You can also download additional libraries that provide higher-level functionality like unit testing and scheduling and execution of work. 
  7. A Large and Growing Community – In its relatively short lifespan, Swift has found its fans within the coding community. For any problem you may encounter, you’re likely to find a tutorial or walkthrough with answers among a number of official and unofficial forums, chat rooms and subreddits. 
  8. Open Source and Free! – Regardless of your level of experience, you can get started with Swift and coding completely risk-free. 


How to Learn Swift

Swift programming language is designed so that coders of any level can master the skill while having fun in the process! In fact, the tagline for Apple’s official Swift Playgrounds app for iPad and Mac is “Learn serious code. In a seriously fun way.” For beginners, we recommend starting with this app as a means of learning the basic syntax and getting started with the language. 

Ultimately, there’s no one best method to master coding and Swift. While you can definitely teach yourself the skill, you might want to seek out teaching resources that match your preferred learning style. You can start by playing around with open source Swift projects on GitHub or through a more structured method like the Hacking with Swift course or online Swift Programming video tutorials

Already ready to take a bigger step in your coding education? Consider signing up for a coding bootcamp. These programs take a more comprehensive look at coding, including Swift, with a curriculum focusing on skills you need on the job, plus a variety of career services and networking opportunities. Bootcamps run several weeks to several months, with costs up to $15,000. While  this is definitely a major commitment, it could be a great way to efficiently skill up your coding knowledge or make a career pivot into the tech industry. 

Below you will find a list of bootcamps that offer Swift in their course curriculums. Take a moment to browse our offerings and find the program that is right for you! 


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