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Programming Languages ​​for Creating iOS Applications

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    What programming language can be used for creating an application for iPhone, iPad or iWatch by Apple.

    1. Development of native and cross-platform applications for Apple devices.
    2. Programming Languages for Creating iOS Applications.
    3. Environment for IOS Application Development 
    • Have you already thought about developing an application for iOS? 
    • Are you planning to create your own company’s iOS app?
    • You’ve launched an online store for your regional retail network and want to create an e-commerce iOS application for your online store, haven’t you?

    After you decide to start developing an application for iOS, you will need to get answers to the following questions:

    • What language can be used?
    • Is it necessary to create a separate application for iWatch?
    • Is it possible to do with one cross-platform application for iOS?
    • Which platform is better to use for application development?
    Professional IT developers - experienced in iOS app development
    Professional IT developers – experienced in iOS app development

    This article will provide you with the answers to these questions and will help you to identify important steps and tools for creating a functional and high-quality iOS application.

    The iOS operating system was released by Apple in 2007. It is not limited to the iPhone and iPad only, but we will discuss important issues about developing applications for these devices.

    DEVELOPMENT OF NATIVE APPLICATIONS

    The developing process of a native application is actually a process of writing a program in one of the main languages for the iOS platform: Objective-C or Swift. It is predetermined by  Apple and requires all its conditions to be followed. Apple provides developers with the latest versions of the SDK (software development kit), platform documentation, and the Xcode development environment.

    Advantages of native development

    • an application is optimized for the iOS platform, and it means it will work quickly and efficiently;
    • the applications respond to button presses quickly, there are no delays in animation and while scrolling content;
    • intuitive and easy access to the hardware of the devices;
    • camera, microphone, accelerometer, geolocation, address book, player, etc. – the application functionality can be based on these and other device features;
    • native platform interface. Native applications usually operate with “platform” interface elements: menus, navigation, forms, and all other design elements are taken from the operating system and are therefore familiar and understandable to the user;
    • with every iOS update, the syntax of Objective-C remains almost unchanged, and therefore, application support is almost painless – only a small part of code will have to be changed or rewritten.

    Disadvantages of native iOS apps

    • application support in Swift. Regular updates of iOS platform versions force code updates, but Apple promises to make this process easier with the fifth version of Swift;
    • most current applications are written in Objective-C. With every passing year, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find a programmer who wants to write on it, and many companies refuse to rewrite projects in Swift, as it is a very hard and expensive process.

    It’s really important for customers of developer companies to decide what kind of development to pay for – native or cross-platform. Cross-platform development can be advised when the budget is limited, you need to know the demand for a mobile application or if the client has its own web programmer. In other cases, it’s more preferable to choose native development.

    FDH can help in both cases. Leave us a request if you want to create your own mobile application for iOS.

    We are ready to help you in developing a native application/web application!

    WHAT LANGUAGE APPLICATIONS FOR IOS ARE WRITTEN IN

    Apple developers have provided two options for developing applications for iOS:

    • Objective-C. A programming language with a long history, gradually fading into the background;
    • Swift.The young and quickly getting popularity among Apple app developers language.

    Both languages belong to object-oriented programming (OOP) and successfully execute its main functions: inheritance, polymorphism, encapsulation, and abstraction. In simple words, OOP is a coding style that allows a developer to group similar tasks into classes. The code follows the DRY principle (don’t repeat yourself) and becomes easy to maintain.

    Application development in Objective-C

    A programming language created in the early 1980s by crossing C with the popular at that time Smalltalk (communication with objects via messages). Objective-C was initially perceived as a simple add-on for the C language, modifying some of its syntactic constructions, but after Next Step got down to licensing, and Apple afterward continued it as a successor Objective-C became one of the most popular languages ​​for application development. Therefore, many data types in Objective-C have inherited prefix NS (Next Step). This is the main language used by Apple, knowledge of which allows you to write for any Apple platform, including macOS.

    The advantages of developing in Objective-C:

    • a high degree of code support: changes in Objective-C are minimal with every update;
    • a large amount of documentation, technical literature, and a huge community. Apple provides and regularly updates official books and resources;
    • a quick transition from one of the languages of the C family. Objective-C is an extension of the C language. This means that any C code is also the correct code for Objective-C, you just need to get used to the syntax; 
    • Objective-C compatibility within Swift projects allows you to use two languages at the same time.

    The disadvantages of developing in Objective-C:

    • if you have never encountered programming and decided to start with Objective-C, then it may be difficult to understand the principles of OOP and piled syntax. Difficulties will disappear in the course of training;
    • low readability of the code: the syntax may seem complicated at the beginning of the study; a dynamic data type system, which is also a plus, leaves some chances for errors that may appear or miss even during compilation. In particular, typos can delay the process;
    • low performance compared to the Swift; Interaction with Swift files can be done using the “bridge” (a conditional adapter that translates Swift code into Objective-C format), which slows down the build process greatly.

    Development of mobile iOS applications in Swift

    It’s a young, powerful, and open-source general-purpose programming language. It was officially introduced by Apple on June 2, 2014. It combines the best of C and Objective-C but lacks the limitations of the latter, imposed for the sake of compatibility with C. Swift uses strict typing of objects, which reduces the number of errors even at the stage of writing code. Swift also added modern features, such as generics, closures, multiple return values, and others, making application development a more flexible and fun process. The basis of the new programming language was the existing compiler, debugger, and frameworks.

    Swift will seem familiar to Objective-C developers. It combines the readability of named parameters and the power of the dynamic Objective-C object model.

    Pros of developing applications in Swift

    • Speed. Now the language is at the same level as C ++, and Cupertino promise that this is not the limit;
    • Simplified navigation through project files.
    • Unlike Objective-C, which creates two files for declaration and implementation, Swift does just one. In addition, method names and comments between files are automatically synchronized;
    • Easy to read, as this language is not built on C.
    • For example, you do not need to put a semicolon at the end of a line and write brackets to surround the expression inside if / else. No square brackets, Swift resembles regular English, is much cleaner and has a simplified syntax;
    • Brevity. The amount of code with Swift is becoming less. For example, to add two lines, you can use the operator “+”;
    • Greater number of features compared to Objective-C.
    • For example, generics (universal templates). Universal code allows you to create flexible, general-purpose functions and types that can work with any other types. You can write a code that does not repeat itself and expresses its content in an abstract form;
    • Full interaction with code written in Objective-C will allow you to use two languages simultaneously;
    • Increased security. Swift, unlike Objective-C, is strongly typed, that is, when declaring named parameters, you must explicitly specify the data type, otherwise the compiler causes an error when executing the code. This will facilitate the process of fixing bugs since it is possible to solve the problem immediately;
    • support for dynamic libraries. One of the significant changes in Swift is the transition from static to dynamic libraries, which are essentially executable pieces of code. They join the application and “communicate” with new versions of the language, which allows the program to work stably

    Cons of developing applications in Swift

    • Swift is constantly developing and changing. For example, a method call may change after an update. Fortunately, Apple has built this process in such a way that code written on earlier versions will not be broken. You get a warning that the application code is written on the old version, and the editor will offer a transition to a newer one and will help to complete this process line by line;
    • Interaction with Objective-C files is performed with the help of a “bridge”, which greatly slows down the build process.

    Most of today’s iOS apps are written in Swift to maximize application performance and efficiency.

    Development of iOS applications in C++.

    C ++ is a very popular programming language used in applications of Apple, Microsoft, and others. It is compiled, statically typed programming language of general use. It supports programming paradigms such as procedural programming, object-oriented programming, generalized programming.

    C ++ is supported by iOS, but there is one “but”: the whole application cannot be written on it. C ++ is suitable for solving logical problems or entire application modules, as well as for writing complex algorithms, but the user interface must be written in Objective-C or Swift.

    One of the options of such interaction is to use the Objective-C ++ dialect, a combination of Objective-C and C ++. For example, the best library for the current task was written in C ++, sometimes a solution to the problem could be more succinctly done in C ++ or you need to call Objective-C functions from a C ++ project. A common example is porting a game or engine to Apple platforms.

    Finally, you can use C ++ to improve the performance of an existing iOS application. The flexibility of Objective-C messages imposes some difficulties compared to implementing most of the C ++ virtual functions. Objective-C objects do not have  fast equivalent in C ++ virtual functions. This can be an important factor in optimizing application performance.

    WHAT PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE TO CHOOSE TO CREATE IOS APPLICATIONS?

    Objective-C is gradually losing its position in favor of a more powerful Swift, which is supported by Apple and is recommended for creating new applications for Apple devices. In 2018, Objective-C took a lower position relatively to Swift in the popularity rating of programming languages from Tiobe. Therefore, we can recommend using Swift to develop new iOS applications

    But you won’t escape using Objective-C at all, as during the application development we may encounter it, and we will have to read and understand the code written in Objective-C.

    At the same time, knowledge of C ++ is a useful skill for increasing application performance, as well as improving old but popular applications written in Objective-C.

    Where can we get materials for learning programming languages for iOS devices?

    Swift Language Materials

    • Apple Education provides its textbooks for free.

    Here is a list of books to start with:

    • Swift Programming Language;
    • Intro to App Development with Swift;
    • App Development with Swift;
    • Apple — Swift Programming Language Guide.
    • Swift. Development basics for iOS and macOS Swift 3;
    • Application development in the Xcode environment for iPhone and iPad using the iOS SDK

    Objective-C Language Materials

    Unfortunately, there are very few books from Apple, but there are excellent paid editions from third-party publishers:

    • Programming in Objective-C 2.0 
    • Programming on iOS and macOS

    It is worth mentioning that in addition to the recommended publications, there are a large number of both paid and free educational materials on Swift and Objective-C on Youtube and special educational portals such as Udemy and SwiftBook.

     C++ Language Materials

    C++ programming language.

    • The basics of C++. Programming for beginners.

    Sources of relevant information on programming languages.

    In order to keep up with the trends, it will be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the following list of companies and popular specialists:

    raywenderlich.com

    An inexhaustible source of free guides. Suitable for both beginners and professionals who need to understand the work of the new framework as quickly as possible ;

    NSHipster

    The blog that belongs to the designer and developer of the cloud service Heroku. Frameworks, framework objects, Objective-C, Swift, Xcode, open-source projects are important – here you can find  useful articles about everything;

    Mikeash

    It’s a blog of the iOS developer Mike Ash from Plausible Labs. What you may encounter here requires knowledge a little deeper than basic;

    Little Bites of Cocoa

    This is a blog with all sorts of useful guides. Beginners and experienced developers will love it for the brevity of the posts and the breadth of the issues covered;

    iOS Dev Weekly

    A pack of news from the world of iOS development. Leading Specialist is Dave Werver;

    Github

    Belongs to the famous company Rambler & Co. It contains a lot of interesting things about Open source. This is their internal space and blog as well.;

    IOS application development environment

    The most popular development environments are IDE (Integrated Development Environment),  Xcode from Apple and AppCode from JetBrains

    Xcode IDE

    Fast editor, equipped with a full set of development tools for iOS, macOS, etc. It’s distributed on the Apple App Store free of charge.

    Pros of Xcode IDE:

    – Interface Builder or IB

    This is a GUI development toolkit application integrated with Xcode. The work process resembles the creation of a design “on canvas”. The whole layout can be done in IB, and then link the visual elements to the implementation file, which describes the entire logic of interaction with them. Interface Builder’s plus is the visual layout, customization of styles, background, fonts, etc., and minus will, for example, work with animation, it can be done with a code only.

    – Simulator

    It provides a complete set of iOS devices on which you can run and test your application;

    – Debugger

    Able to disassemble the visual part in an elementary way to search for errors in the layout, it will also help to find bugs and deal with the problem of memory leak. In addition to everything, the debugger can perform all these operations and UI tests in a “wireless” mode;

    – The built-in version control system in GitHub 

    In addition to the standard branching functions, in the split-screen mode it allows you to view changes in various “branches”;

    – Location Simulation Function

    It’s great while working on a map. It has as a built-in set of cities, the list of which can be supplemented;

    – Swift Playground, the so-called “sandbox“, which allows you to check a new algorithm or graphics routine (for example, a few lines of code) quickly without creating an entire application;тit can help with laying out the application immediately on the iOS device;т& supports for the “dark theme” of macOS.

    Cons of Xcode IDE:

    • unstable. 

    It may spontaneously close with an error in the process of work. The project will not suffer in any way, and the latest code changes will not be lost. Just restart the Xcode IDE and keep working from where you left off;

    • Auto-completion often does not work (the function of text adding to the entered part).

    AppCode IDE 

    Like Xcode, it contains a complete set of necessary tools for efficient and convenient work with Objective-C, Swift, C ++ and is 100% compatible with Xcode.

    Pros of AppCode IDE:

    – the stable environment of development. It doesn’t have sudden shutdowns; 

    – autocompletion works faster, more stable and without failures, contrary Xcode;

    – integration with bug /issue trackers like JIRA, YouTrack, Lighthouse, Pivotal Tracker, GitHub, Redmine, etc.;

    – a more detailed description of errors and warnings;

    Cons of AppCode IDE:

    – and you still need to build the application Xcode;

    – there is no interface Builder. IB file opening of  AppCode is done in Xcode;

    – no visual debugger, as well as no wireless debugging;

    – there is no  Swift Playground;

    – application launch is done on the Xcode-simulator;

    IDE AppCode is a paid product, 30 days for free familiarization. 

    Conclusion

    The most popular iOS application development language for mobile platforms is Swift in 2019. A large number of popular applications for the Apple mobile platform are created by developers using the Swift programming language. The reason for its popularity is the speed and laconic syntax, as well as the fact that it is becoming the standard for the development of iOS applications and is receiving more support from Apple developers. The Swift programming language is also developing and receiving more new features that allow iOS applications to use the high performance and greater functionality of Apple mobile devices in everyday life for work, entertainment and shopping.

    If you are ready to start working on an iOS-application, then leave a request below.

    We will contact you for a free consultation.

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