C Programming

What is the Difference Between Swift and Objective C

For software engineers, selecting a programming language is a critical decision. With the increasing demand for mobile applications, the two languages that are popular for mobile app development are Swift and Objective C. Swift is a programming language developed by Apple, whereas Objective C was the primary programming language for Apple’s operating systems. This blog will explore the difference between Swift and Objective C.

What is Objective C?

Objective C is an object-oriented language that was developed in the early 1980s, and its syntax structure is derived from Smalltalk. It is C’s extension language and has been a part of Apple’s operating systems and applications since the advent of Cocoa.

Let’s take a look at a basic Objective C code.

#import <Foundation/Foundation.h>

int main (int argc, const char * argv[])
    NSAutoreleasePool * pool = [[NSAutoreleasePool alloc] init];
    [pool drain];
    return 0;

It imports the Foundation framework, an essential Objective-C framework. The program’s entry point is the main() function. An instance of NSAutoreleasePool is created inside the @autoreleasepool. The code block’s objects’ memory allocation and deallocation are controlled by this pool.

The string LinuxHint is printed in the console output using the NSLog method. Finally, the autorelease pool is instructed to release any objects it contains by sending the [pool drain] message. After that, the function returns 0 to denote a successful execution.


What is Swift?

Swift is a modernized language that was contributed to the programming world in 2014 by Apple to overcome the limitations of Objective C. Swift was built from the ground up with modern programming concepts, including lightweight syntax and type interface, which makes it more accessible and easier to use. It eliminates the verbosity and complexities associated with Objective C.

Let’s take a look at the basic Swift code.

import Foundation


The above code imports the Swift foundational framework known as the Foundation module, which offers essential features for working with strings, collections, dates, file management, and other things. The string LinuxHint! is then printed in the console output using the print function.


Difference Between Swift and Object C

The following is the main difference between Swift and Objective C.

1: Syntax

The syntax of Swift and Objective C differs significantly from one another. Swift uses a more modern syntax that is easier to read and write. It uses concise and expressive syntax that is easier to understand, compared to Objective C which uses a more verbose syntax that can be intimidating to some programmers. Swift syntax is also similar to many other modern programming languages like Python, Ruby, and Java.

2: Readability

The readability of the code is also a significant difference between Swift and Objective C. Swift is a more readable language than Objective C. It can take up to fewer lines of code to write a function in Swift, which makes the code easier to read and understand. Additionally, with Swift’s syntax, it’s easier to “self-document” the code by using clear and concise variable names, making the code more readable to both the developer and anyone else who might need to review the code in the future.

3: Speed

The speed of code execution is an important consideration when choosing a programming language. Swift is faster than Objective C due to various factors, such as its syntax, which allows it to avoid unnecessary overhead. With its strong typing and emphasis on safety, Swift can optimize memory allocation and improve the performance of the application.

4: Interoperability

The interoperability of code is another key difference between Swift and Objective C. While Objective C is compatible with C, Swift is a completely new language. Despite this, Swift has been designed to work efficiently with Objective C libraries and frameworks. Developers can easily mix both languages in the same project and thus leverage existing Objective C code while still taking advantage of the benefits Swift brings.

5: Optionals

Swift has introduced a significant change by introducing optionals in programming. The use of non-optional variables in Objective C implies that developers need to perform null checks to ensure that a variable is not null. Swift handles optionals in a better and more organized way. Moreover, Swift has also taken advantage of the language’s type safety to eliminate common programming errors that developers could come across when working with Objective C.

6: Error-handling

Swift provides better error handling than Objective-C. Swift has an advanced error-handling mechanism that allows developers to manage errors more efficiently. The built-in error handling mechanism in Swift can be used to recover gracefully without causing the app to crash. In contrast, Objective C does not provide an equivalent mechanism for error handling.

7: Type Inference System

Swift has a better type of inference system than Objective C. This feature makes it easier for developers to write code without having to declare the variable types explicitly. The Swift compiler can infer the type of the variable by examining the code. This results in more concise code and can give developers more time to concentrate on harder and higher-level tasks.

8: Programming Paradigm

Swift has better support for functional programming than Objective C. Swift supports many concepts of functional programming like high-order functions, map, filter, and reduce, which makes the code more expressive, reusable, and easier to maintain. Objective C, on the other hand, has some support for functional programming but not to the extent that Swift does.

9: Standard Libraries

Swift has a more extensive standard library than Objective C. The Swift language comes with a vast standard library that provides many built-in functionalities. Developers do not need to write excessive code or use third-party libraries to get simple tasks done. Objective C, on the other hand, has a smaller standard library and developers may need to use third-party libraries to get tasks done.

10: Performance

Swift has better performance optimization features than Objective C. Swift allows developers to optimize their code through the use of various features like automatic in-lining, generic collections, and protocol extensions. This enhances the application’s performance. Objective C does not provide these optimization features.


Objective C

More modern syntax More verbose syntax
More readable Less readable
Faster execution Slower execution
Designed to work with Objective-C Compatible with C, but not Swift
Optionals No Optionals
Advanced error-handling mechanism No equivalent mechanism for error handling
Better type inference system A less sophisticated type system
Better support for functional programming Some support for functional programming
More extensive standard library Smaller standard library


Both Swift and Objective C have their pros and cons. The decision between Swift and Objective C is based on the project’s needs, the developer’s experience, and the intended platform. However, Swift provides more advanced features than Objective C, such as better syntax, more efficient error handling, and better performance optimization. Therefore, Swift is likely to become the future of mobile app development on Apple’s platforms.

About the author

Hiba Shafqat

I am a Computer Science student and a committed technical writer by choice. It is a great pleasure to share my knowledge with the world in which I have academic expertise.