Native iOS apps are written in which language?

Alongside Android, iOS is one of the biggest mobile platforms. Thanks to great user experience (UX), performance optimizations, and high-quality development tools, it’s loved by both users and developers alike.

Among those tools are 2 programming languages – Objective-C and Swift. You can use both to develop apps for all Apple platforms, including iOS. However, where they differ is in feature sets, syntaxes, ecosystems, and available APIs.

General Overview

Here are the highlights of the iOS programming languages.


Objective-C is a highly-matured language used by Apple since its acquisition of NeXT in the 90s. It emerged as an object-oriented superset of C, with inspiration from Smalltalk.

After the acquisition, Apple integrated the language into Mac OS X and included it in the Xcode, making it the standard, go-to language for macOS and iOS development.


On the other hand, the history of Swift is much shorter. It was developed and originally announced by Apple at WWDC 2014. Dubbed as “Objective-C, without the C”, the language brought many performance and development experience improvements.

Currently being the primary language for Apple platforms, Swift receives most of the new improvements first, if not exclusively. Still, it’s not as mature as Obj-C, and with many apps and tools still using Obj-C under the hood, both languages currently co-exist and benefit from each other.

Compare Differences

Here are the key differences between Objective-C and Swift.

Development environment

Both languages get first-class support in Xcode. Still, with Swift being the primary focus, it also gets supported by newer tools, like Swift Playgrounds. These can help you learn Swift programming and, with upcoming WWDC 2021 updates, develop simple iOS apps from start to finish.

Development experience

Development experience can be subjective, so if you’re used to Obj-C, you’ll probably feel more comfortable with it. With that said, Swift brings a lot of improvements to the table.

It’s more human-friendly thanks to simpler syntax, but also more succinct, with some examples showing up to 60% reduction in lines of code when migrating from Obj-C.

Migrating an older app to Swift is easier thanks to its interoperability with Obj-C. Swift is also safer due to static typing, better memory management, and lack of pointers. On top of that, it even supports namespaces and several functional patterns.

UI tooling

While both languages are relatively similar in terms of UI framework support, like AppKit, Swift has a big advantage thanks to SwiftUI.

SwiftUI is a Swift-exclusive UI framework, available right in Xcode. It makes UI development easier than ever thanks to targeting all Apple platforms and instant visual feedback.

Community and Ecosystem

When it comes to the ecosystem, the languages follow a similar pattern as with all their other traits.

Obj-C is more mature and so has stable, almost stale documentation, stable or declining tooling, and community. It’s still in use, especially in larger apps alongside Swift, but there’s no growth tendency at all.

On the other hand, Swift is also pretty mature but has constantly updated docs, gets new features and upgrades, and has a growing community and ecosystem. As more developers migrate from Obj-C, Swift is destined to vastly outgrow Obj-C, if it hasn’t already.


It’s clear that whether you’re developing for iOS or any other Apple platform, Swift is the way to go.

However, because it’s compatible with Obj-C, your old code doesn’t have to be scraped right away. Instead, you can slowly migrate the way you’d like or just use both as long as Obj-C is supported.


In which language are iOS apps written?

The iOS programming languages are Objective-C and Swift.

What are the differences between Objective-C and Swift?

– Development environment
– Development experience
– UI Tooling
– Community and Ecosystem

Which is the best programming language for modern iOS apps?

It’s clear that whether you’re developing for iOS or any other Apple platform, Swift is the way to go.

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