Swift is a new language from Apple, first announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in June 2014. The language started life as the brainchild of Chris Lattner, director of Apple’s Developer Tools department, and is the next step in the evolution of its software development ecosystem.
Swift brings with it many modern language features, including type safety, generics, type inference, closures, tuples, protocols, automatic memory management, and support for Unicode (for character and string values as well as for identifiers). You can use a mixture of Swift and Objective-C in a single project, and either language can call APIs implemented in the other.
At its introduction, Apple stated that the language specification was not final, and that the syntax and feature set would change, and that continues to be the case. After two significant updates, the source code for the Swift compiler and associated tools was released as an open source project on GitHub, and Apple established an open community for further evolving the language. This community has had substantial input into the direction of Swift, and will continue to shape the language in the future.
Despite the challenges imposed by a changing language, Swift shows great promise and rapid uptake. It follows on from the company’s other major developer tools initiatives, including LLVM, Clang, LLDB, ARC, and a series of extensions to Objective-C, and it’s clear that Apple sees it as ...