A Comparison of iOS Programming Languages: Swift vs. Objective-C

Objective-C has been the primary programming language for developing iOS applications. However, in 2014, Apple developed Swift as a modern substitute for the Objective-C coding of iOS apps.
IT Blog and Development
3 minute(s) read
Published on: Feb 05, 2024
Updated on: Feb 05, 2024

Regarding iOS development, both languages have their strengths and weaknesses. Let’s dive in and have a look at the significant differences between Swift and Objective-C, analyzing their characteristics.

iOS development

History and Origins

The Objective-C language was developed in the early 1980s as an object-oriented extension of C programming. It was the dominant language for Mac and iOS development for decades.

Swift is a very modern language released by Apple in 2014 to replace Objective-C for iOS and Mac app development with an easier but more secure alternative.

Objective-C traces back to the earliest, but Swift is a contemporary language designed for today's apps.

Syntax and Readability

Objective-C is a very complicated C-like language with numerous keywords and other special punctuation symbols. Swift has a concise, legible style that uses the common keywords from the natural language. Swift's syntax is often simpler and less wordy than the long-winded Objective C.

The syntax rules provided by Swift help to remove the typical coding errors. Swift's syntax generally makes the code less error-prone and more sustainable.


Runtime performance between Objective-C and Swift is usually very similar. However, the Swift code can be much quicker in some cases due to the optimizations, such as not requiring header imports. Swift apps tend to have much shorter startup times.

Swift works much more efficiently during long computations involving arrays and also dictionaries. Thus, for performance-sensitive operations, Swift can be ever so slightly faster than Objective C

Safety and Security

Swift is designed for safety and security with features like:

- Type safety

- Automatic memory management

- Error handling

- Bound checking array accesses

This eliminates many common crash scenarios and security flaws like buffer overflows. Apps written in Swift have fewer crashes and vulnerabilities than those in Objective-C.

Objective-C provides little protection against security holes. So, Swift is much more secure for writing iOS apps that deal with sensitive data.


A key advantage of Swift is its interoperability with Objective-C code . This allows developers to add Swift code to existing Objective-C projects incrementally. Swift and Objective-C files can call into each other within the same project.

This interoperability makes it easy to use Swift even if you have a large Objective-C codebase. It allows a smooth transition from legacy Objective-C to Swift.

Coding Experience

Many iOS developers find coding in Swift to be more enjoyable and productive. Its clean syntax and safety features reduce bugs and crashes. Swift requires less code to accomplish the same tasks compared to verbose Objective-C. It provides an overall faster and smoother coding experience.

But it does take time for Objective-C developers to get up to speed with Swift's modern language constructs and style. So, there can be a learning curve when switching development workflows to Swift.


Summing It Up

Swift has clear advantages for new iOS projects due to its readability, safety, and Swift-first ecosystem direction. But Objective-C offers legacy stability and interoperability benefits that will keep it relevant. The choice between Objective-C vs Swift depends on your app needs and environment. But overall, Swift is the language of the future for iOS development.

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