With so many programming languages available, developers can struggle to decide the best one to choose for the task at hand.

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Here we examine Objective-C and Swift, two well-known iOS programming languages, to help in making your decision.

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Read next: The UK's top 12 in-demand programming languages 

What is Objective-C programming language?

Objective-C is a general purpose, cross-platform programming language that was developed by Brad Cox and Tom Love in 1984.

The development of the language was influenced by Smalltalk and C programming languages. It was the main language used by NeXT for its NeXTSTEP operating system, before being taken over by Apple for its OS X and iOS operating systems.

Objective-C is basically an upgrade of the C programming language, with object-oriented capabilities and a dynamic runtime.

Pros of Objective-C programming language

Objective-C is a popular choice for many reasons, the main reason being its incorporation of the C programming language which means users get the benefits of C and C++.

It is a simple language to learn, and provides both developers with the choice of when to build something using its object-oriented feature or with its procedural programming techniques.

Objective-C offers plenty of third-party libraries and frameworks. With high flexibility and power, it is a language that supports open style dynamic binding.

It also offers pre-processor usage, which means writing complex macros follows an easy process. Objective-C is known for its high speed static code analysis, for instance, the XCode framework which uses this language reacts quickly to syntactic errors.

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Cons of Objective-C programming language

As Objective-C is not an open source language, it is more open to filename collisions and that is due to its lack of namespaces. Instead, users have to manually add prefixes to their class names.

Although Apple claims Objective-C is an easy language to learn, it may not be as easy to read as it is built on C. 

This integration is also something that tends to be a disadvantage for developers, as Objective-C cannot evolve without C, which only offers a two-file system, causing more work for programmers.

What is Swift programming language?

Far newer than Objective-C, Swift is a multi-paradigm compiled programming language developed by Apple in 2014.

Swift was developed for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS and Linux operating systems. It is designed to work with Apple’s Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, as well as some of Objective-C’s written code.

Pros of Swift programming language

As a newer language than Objective-C, Swift uses the Objective-C runtime library which allows C, C++, Objective-C and Swift code to run together on all platforms except Linux.

It is often compared to Objective-C as a modern programming language which offers a more simple syntax. This makes the APIs in Swift easier to read and maintain.

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The modern programming format includes automatic memory management, which removes the need for developers to type semi-colons.

According to Apple, Swift is designed for safety with the variables always initialised before use and regular arrays and integers check for overflow.

It was built with an LLVM compiler, which makes it a fast and powerful language for developers.

Cons of Swift programming language

Due to Swift being a modern and more recent programming language, it only has a limited number of native libraries to offer.

This also has an effect on the project development process as Swift can only be used in apps for iOS7 or later versions, and cannot be used for legacy projects on older versions.


When it comes to making a choice between both Objective-C and Swift programming languages, it really depends on your level of experience with programming languages and the time you have to learn a new one.

If you are considering learning a new language fairly quickly, it may be a good choice to go for Swift, based on the easy readability and modern-style features it offers.

However, if you require more libraries and frameworks for your projects then Objective-C would be the best choice. This is why it is more widely used by advanced developers and programmers.