Swift in 2016

Owen Roberts

March 16th, 2016

It’s only been 2 years since Swift was first released to the public and it’s amazing how quickly it has been adopted by iOS developers all over. Seen as a great jumping point for many people and a perfect alternative to Objective-C with some of the best modern language features built in, like tuples and generics; being Open Source is the icing on the cake for tinker-happy devs looking to make the language their own.

Swift is in an interesting position though; despite it being one of the fastest languages being picked up right now, do you know how many apps made by Apple actually use it in iOS 9.2? Only 1. Calculator. It’s not a huge surprise when you think about it – the language is new and constantly evolving, and we can safely assume that Calculator’s use of Swift is to test the water as the features and workings of the language settle down.

Maybe in the next 2-3 years Apple will have finally moved to a pure Swift world, but other developers? They’re really jumping into the language. IBM, for example, uses Swift for all its iOS apps. What does this mean for you? It means that, as a developer, you have the ability to help shape a young language that rarely happens on today’s web.

So here are a few reasons you should take the plunge and get deeper into Swift in 2016, and if you haven’t started yet, then there’s no better time!

Swift 3 is coming

What better time to get even deeper into the language when it’s about to add a host of great new features? Swift 3.0 is currently scheduled to launch around the tail end of 2016 and Apple aren’t keeping what they want to include close to their chest. The biggest additions are looking to be stabilizing the ABI, refining the language even more with added resilience to changes, and further increasing portability. All these changes have been on the wishlists of Swift devs for ages and now that we’re finally going to get them there’s sure to be more professional projects made purely in Swift. 3.0 looks to be the edition of Swift that you can use for your customers without worry, so if you haven’t gotten into the language yet, this is the version you should be prepping for!

It’s no longer an iOS only language

Probably the biggest change to happen to Swift since it became Open Source is that the language is now available on Ubuntu officially, while dedicated fans are also currently creating an Android port of all things. What does this mean for you as a developer? Well, the potential for a greater number of platforms your apps can be deployed on has grown; and one of Swift’s main complaints, that it’s an iOS only language, is rendered moot.

It’s getting easier to learn and use

In the last 2 years we’ve seen a variety of different tools and package managers for those looking to get more out of Swift. If you’re already using Swift it’s most likely you’re using Xcode to write apps. However, if you’re looking to try something new or just don’t like Xcode then there’s now a host of options for you. Testing frameworks like Quick are starting to appear on the market and alternatives such as AppCode look to build on the feedback the community gives to Xcode and fill in the gaps with what it’s missing. Suggestions as you type and decent project monitoring are becoming more commonplace with these new environments, and there are more environments around if you look, so why not jump on them and see which one suits your style of development?

The Swift job market is expanding

Last year the Swift job market expanded by an incredible 600%, and that was in its first year alone. With Apple giving Swift its full support and the community having grown so quickly, companies are beginning to take notice. Many companies who produce iOS apps are looking for the benefits that Swift offers over Objective-C and having that language as part of your skillset is something that is beginning to set iOS developers apart from one another…

With everything happening with Spring this year it looks to be one of the best times to jump on board or dig deeper into the language. If you’re looking to get started building your Swift skills then be sure to check out our iOS tech page, it has all our most popular iOS books for you to explore along with the list of upcoming titles for you to preorder, Swift included.

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