With millions of iPhones and iPads in use and numerous iOS apps for them, more and more people are getting interested in developing apps for these devices. The best language for coding for iOS apps is Swift, which was introduced in 2014 by Apple as its own language. Swift is a general-purpose, open-source, compiled language and is designed to work with frameworks such as Cocoa and Cocoa Touch for macOS and iOS respectively. Now Swift is included in the Xcode package, which is the official IDE (Integrated Development Environment) of Apple. A Swift iOS app can be developed with the minimum writing of the code as it has a library of ready-made objects that can be dragged and dropped to the virtual interface of the app being built. For instance, if you want to try your first Swift iOS app displaying a ‘Hello World!’ text on your iPhone screen, you can do it in 5 or 6 steps, where only one step will involve writing – typing the string “Hello World!” into a text box.
Swift features and capabilities
- Cross-platform capability helps it support iOS (iPhone, iPad), watchOS (Apple Watch), tvOS (Apple TV media player), Linux, etc.
- With Swift Playgrounds (on iPad app), one can learn and experiment with Swift in a fun way.
- UTF-8 encoding with the latest version.
- It is an open-source language.
- Cleaner looking code with no semicolons and concise yet unambiguous syntax.
- Swift is an interactive as well as intuitive language.
- App development with Swift is safe and fast.
- Simplicity despite sophistication makes it easy even for a first-time developer of Swift iOS app.
Coding in Swift language
Today, Swift app development is much easier. You get Swift when you download the Xcode development framework. However, Xcode only works on macOS and not Windows. An ‘Objects library’ is available on Xcode, which contains numerous ready-to-use objects such as text field, button, etc., which can be dragged and dropped on to the virtual display of the device we are building the app for. This makes writing the code for each and every line unnecessary. However, writing the code becomes necessary for many functions. For this, the developer is required to have a fairly good knowledge of programming in Swift including Variables, Functions, Optionals, Conditionals, among other coding elements. Some of the most fundamental codes are:
‘let’ for Constant
‘var’ for Variable
‘int’ for Integer
‘if’ and ‘switch’ for Conditionals
‘func’ for Function
‘class’ for Class
There is much more to learn. Numerous resources teach coding in Swift to anyone. Two such resources available online are:
- Official Swift website by Apple
- Appcoda website.
The Xcode workspace screen is divided into Navigator, Editor and Utility panes in order to make coding in Swift user-friendly. This is done by SwiftUI. And, Interface Builder helps us view the progress of our Swift iOS app on the virtual screen of a device of our choice. Swift is helpful for programs for other Apple devices, too.
Post coding actions
After programming in Swift, the app can be tested with up to 10,000 users by sharing a public link using ‘TestFlight’, an Apple tool. Also, cloud testing of the app is possible with devices present on cloud. After testing, it can be released to the App Store if the developer joins a paid Apple Developer Program. It gives one the benefits of advanced testing features, app analytics, and the like. Coding in Swift is easy; no rocket science anymore!