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Should you start with Swift or Objective-C to learn iOS development?

May 1, 2015
Candy Code - 1

There’s a lot of discussion online on what’s best for aspiring iOS developers. Swift, the new programming language by Apple, or the good ol’ Objective-C that’s been around for more than 30 years.

Make one Google search and you’ll become even more confused with what path you should choose.

The wrong answer to this question is learn both. You’re going to have a hard time simultaneously learning two programming languages with different syntax. You’re going to feel overwhelmed and chances are, you’re going to throw in the towel very soon. We don’t want that, do we?

The truth is, the correct answer is pretty simple if you know your goals.

First, answer this:

Do you wish to finally make and publish your first iOS app OR do you want to make a career (= get a job) as an iOS developer?

If you want to finally make your first iOS app

Then, by all means, go with Swift.

Why?

  • It’s much more beautiful than Objective-C = you will have more pleasure learning it
  • It’s a lot less verbose than Objective-C = you will have to write less code to get the same results
  • A lot of really good tutorials and guides (including Apple’s own) are already written and there are hardly any “outdated” tutorials using old SDKs that are no longer in use
  • Playgrounds make the learning experience even more pleasant and fun

If you want to get a job as an iOS developer

Then, of course, go with Objective-C.

Why?

  • Majority of startups (with existing apps) still have their codebase in Objective-C and if you’ll want to join the team, you’ll have to understand and navigate through a lot of Obj-C code
  • Most of new startups are reluctant to use Swift because it’s so new (more bugs)
  • Even if they are thinking about building their app in Swift, they’ll still look for a developer that has a basic understanding of Objective-C

What if you want both?

Well, obviously, you can’t get a job as an iOS developer with zero experience. In that case, you’re still going to make your first app (in Swift), then once you get the hang of it, start digging into Objective-C and drawing parallels between both languages.

Conclusion

Swift is the more beautiful language and it lets you write pretty code and bring you joy. On the other hand, the “old” Objective-C with its weird syntax, is still a lot more used and sought after in the industry. Whatever you choose, you’ll encounter Objective-C. Whether it’s Apple’s core libraries or some external ones you’ll be  including in your project. But if you define your goals, just pick one language and start really learning by coding, you’ll quickly see if you made the right decision.

And remember – at the end, it’s all about making the first step. So make your decision now and start building apps!

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Jure Zove

A lot of things but mostly a programmer who really likes fast cars. Check me out on Twitter, if you fancy.

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  • Carlos_o7

    Nice article

  • Jon Forrest

    “with it’s weird syntax” ->
    “with its weird syntax”

  • Srinivas

    I prefer blogs to be in this format and length, perfect! No bs, straight to the point in 1min. Good one.

    • Thanks! Hope it made your decision easier. 🙂

    • Lucas C

      Exactly, great article!

  • Marko

    After this period of time, do you still think going with Objective-C is better choice for becoming and iOS developer or this is starting to change now? I cant decide where to start.

    • Depends on your goals, but I think you should go with Swift now. It’s developing nicely, it’s open source … It’s better looking than Obj-C and more and more libraries are being written in Swift.

      Swift is the future!

      • Marko

        Thank you. Actually I already started with swift, but got hold back after reading few articles etc 🙂

        • Eeeh, don’t worry. Apple is heavily promoting it but some dinosaurs are still clinging to Obj-C …

  • Pingback: It’s 2016, you’re new to iOS and wondering: Should I start with Swift or Objective-C? – Candy Code()

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