Apple making sparse use of Swift in its own apps, engineer claims

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2016
In spite of Apple expressing a desire to switch its apps to Swift, just a handful of them are actually using the programming language so far, according to a software engineer.




The Calculator app is the only part of iOS 9.2 that includes any Swift code, Ryan Olson noted in a blog post. It is at least said to be nearly "pure" Swift, with only two of 22 classes written in Apple's previous favorite language, Objective-C.

Even Apple apps that are optional downloads from the App Store are generally reliant on Objective-C, Olson added. The official WWDC app makes use of some Swift, as does the Apple Store app's Watch interface, but even the former only contains Swift in six out of 281 classes.

The problem likely stems from several issues, such as the Swift Application Binary Interface not being finished. This should happen by Swift 3, but until then app compatibility may be too prone to breaking. There's also no 32-bit Swift runtime for OS X.

In December Apple's senior VP of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi, said that El Capitan's Dock and window management code was done with Swift, and that the iCloud team is "champing at the bit" to try the language. Deeper integration may have to wait until newer iOS and OS X releases later this year.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 49
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Don't eat much of their own dog food I guess?
    jackansi
  • Reply 2 of 49
    Apple will catch up. Swift is a great language to develop with.
    I say iOS 11 will be the first major release with more Apple apps using the language.
    jbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 49
    After 20 years away from hands-on development, I'm now learning Swift thanks to the excellent free training in iTune U (thanks, Stanford U!) and the free language books from Apple. I find it powerful and nicely concise due to its automatic inference of types and automatic memory management.

    Apple's recent open-sourcing of Swift could lead to broader adoption at Universities, even if they don't have Mac hardware. (... once Swift compilers & IDEs are available on other platforms)
    neutrino23jbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 49
    https://daringfireball.net/thetalkshow/139/federighi-gruber-transcript

    John Gruber: How do you manage as the chief mofo in charge of this? How do you manage the enthusiasm that you clearly have for Swift and, what to me seems like a sincere belief that Swift is the way forward — with the necessary conservativeness that you need so that there still has to be a lot of Objective-C written? How aggressive can you be about putting teams on, “Sure, go ahead and do that in Swift”?

    Craig Federighi: People here are idealistic yet really pragmatic, and I think you see that as an Apple characteristic in many, many elements of what we do. And so, teams know, what the nature of what we’re trying to get done in their area in any given year, the nature of their code base, whether Swift is the right answer for them, or where it’s the right answer. Even teams where, for one reason or the other, they can’t jump right on Objective-C — or rather Objective-C conversion to Swift now. They then use Swift heavily for writing all their unit tests, which is great because then at least as they’re introducing new APIs, they’re experiencing their own APIs in Swift and then … sort of eating their own dog food in that regard. We do have some constraints internally which we’re addressing, but because we … I mean, it’s something in our closet a little bit, but we still support running 32-bit apps on the Mac. And the 32-bit runtime doesn’t actually support Swift right now. And so, what that means is that if we implement a framework that’s available to 32-bit code, we actually can’t write it in Swift. If that code, if that framework is used across iOS and OS X — as many of our frameworks are — that introduces a little stumbling block as well. So teams recognize what’s practical and what’s not practical and find ways to use Swift wherever they can. There’s no shortage of enthusiasm.
    edited January 2016 coinaphrasetdknoxnolamacguyRayz2016tallest skilmacky the mackyjbdragonmr oSpamSandwichrussw
  • Reply 5 of 49
    I am not doubting this is the case, but how does an engineer with Instagram know this?
  • Reply 6 of 49
    prolineproline Posts: 194member
    sog35 said:
    Another example of Tim Cook's Apple.

    Too little too late.  Swift is a great idea but again Cook is late in implemented it. How many free passes will this incompetent CEO get? Another example of a half-assed project. 
    Exactly what's the rush in implementing it? There's certainly nothing half-assed about it. Apple has devoted huge resources to it and promoted it heavily at two WWDCs.
    rogifan_oldtdknoxnolamacguyjbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 49
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,515member
    sog35 said:
    msantti said:
    Hate Tim Cook much?
    I dont hate the MAN. 
    I hate the CEO.

    I like Tim Cook as a person. He seems to be a great guy. I just don't think he is the guy to lead the most powerful business in the world. I think a better fit would be for Tim to head up the Red Cross or Doctors without Boards. We need a CEO who is not afraid of taking risks and getting his hands dirty. 
    So I take back what I said in your defense the other day, that you were over your brain inflammation. You are as deep in the quicksand as ever.

    Read the post above from UnitedWorx and ask yourself why you can't grasp reality like he does, and Craig and Gruber and by implication Tim Cook do, and why you're such an emotional basket case that no one of reason can take you seriously.
    dacharnolamacguyMacProRayz2016afrodrimacky the mackyjbdragonfastasleeplolliverpalomine
  • Reply 8 of 49
    sog35 said:
    msantti said:
    Hate Tim Cook much?
    I dont hate the MAN. 
    I hate the CEO.

    I like Tim Cook as a person. He seems to be a great guy. I just don't think he is the guy to lead the most powerful business in the world. I think a better fit would be for Tim to head up the Red Cross or Doctors without Boards. We need a CEO who is not afraid of taking risks and getting his hands dirty.
    If you're leading the most powerful business in the world... you don't wanna take too many big risks.  That could be trouble.

    But I must ask... who would be a "better" CEO?  You know Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook as his successor, right?
    macky the mackyjbdragonlolliver
  • Reply 9 of 49
    It takes several years to switch over to a new programming language, especially while it's still being written.
    rogifan_oldneutrino23jbdragonlolliverpalomine
  • Reply 10 of 49


    After 20 years away from hands-on development, I'm now learning Swift thanks to the excellent free training in iTune U (thanks, Stanford U!) and the free language books from Apple. I find it powerful and nicely concise due to its automatic inference of types and automatic memory management.

    Apple's recent open-sourcing of Swift could lead to broader adoption at Universities, even if they don't have Mac hardware. (... once Swift compilers & IDEs are available on other platforms)
    Paul Hegarty is the best instructor, bar none, that I've seen in thousands of hours of attending and teaching classes in programming skills -- spanning 59 years.

    One problem, however is that Swift is a young language that is evolving rapidly ...

    Apple, IBM, educators, publishers and the open source community must assure that their content keeps pace with the Swift language evolution!

    Still, Swft is less than 2 years old and, I suspect, has better acceptance than any other language at that young age.  For Example CoBOL took 10 years:

    COBOL 60

    On May 28 and 29 of 1959 (exactly one year after the Zürich ALGOL 58 meeting), a meeting was held at the Pentagon to discuss the creation of a common programming language for business.

    .

    .

    .

    COBOL-74

    By 1970, COBOL had become the most widely used programming language in the world.


    caption

    Grace Hopper, the inventor of FLOW-MATIC, a predecessor to COBOL

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COBOL#History_and_specification
    edited January 2016 Rayz2016jbdragonSpamSandwich
  • Reply 11 of 49
    sog35 said:
    I dont hate the MAN. 
    I hate the CEO.

    I like Tim Cook as a person. He seems to be a great guy. I just don't think he is the guy to lead the most powerful business in the world. I think a better fit would be for Tim to head up the Red Cross or Doctors without Boards. We need a CEO who is not afraid of taking risks and getting his hands dirty.
    If you're leading the most powerful business in the world... you don't wanna take too many big risks.  That could be trouble.

    But I must ask... who would be a "better" CEO?  You know Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook as his successor, right?
    It sounds like he wants Trump to be CEO, which...yeah. 


  • Reply 12 of 49
    sog35 said:
    If you're leading the most powerful business in the world... you don't wanna take too many big risks.  That could be trouble.

    But I must ask... who would be a "better" CEO?  You know Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook as his successor, right?
    I have no idea who they should hire. But I do know that Tim isn't a good fit. 

    The CEO of Apple needs to be respected and FEARED by Wall Street. He needs to be willing to take risks. He needs to be a massive equity owner, not just an employee. There is a reason why Apple has the worst PE ratio of any big tech company. The bottom line is Wall Street thinks Cook is a clown and give him zero respect. Apple's sub 10 PE is an absolute joke. Even shrinking companies like CocaCola, McDonalds, and Walmart have much higher PE ratio's.
    isn't Tim an Equity owner?
    Isnt Tim showing "Jobs" like behaviour and not giving a toss about wall street and just running the biggest  and most profitable company in the world?
    Isn't Apple making more money than they know what to do with it?
    Isn't Apple launching products every year that sale like hot cakes?
    Isn't Apple leading a cut throat sector and is considered to be the leader and closely followed by all the others?
    Isnt Apple raking it by cornering the "premium sector" and having 90%+ of the profits in both mobile and "proper" PC's?

    ok you've convinced me he's a bloody useless CEO. Maybe they should go private /s

    michael scripMacProafrodrimacky the mackyicoco3lollivertenlydrewys808
  • Reply 13 of 49
    hjmnlhjmnl Posts: 31member
    I read many criticism on Tim Cook. In my humble opinion he is a great leader who dares to think ahead. Under his leadership Apple not only makes big profits but is caring about the environment and people as well. Name any other tech company that has the guts to do the same. 
    Same rights for everyone independent on who you are. Sounds very progressive to me and by setting this new standard, I hope many companies will follow. Wall Street has never understand Apple so why bother. They show time after time again investors were wrong. And if Apple doesn't beat record after record, I'm still proud on their forward thinking and hope someday the critics might too. I'm no native English speaker so I do apologize for the typos.
    singularitymacky the mackyrusswpalomine
  • Reply 14 of 49
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    The important thing in a system development is that it works near 100%
    For the UI portion, that's not as critical, you can have a few bugs.

    Porting introduces new bug so they would only use swift in brand new development, modules, API's, etc.

    Someone creating a new App on IOS would in a sense be doing "new development", for them it is a no brainer.

    Also, people that have coded something in language X will not suddenly switch it all in language Y for kicks; that would be idiotic.




  • Reply 15 of 49
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    sog35 said:
    I dont hate the MAN. 
    I hate the CEO.

    I like Tim Cook as a person. He seems to be a great guy. I just don't think he is the guy to lead the most powerful business in the world. I think a better fit would be for Tim to head up the Red Cross or Doctors without Boards. We need a CEO who is not afraid of taking risks and getting his hands dirty.
    If you're leading the most powerful business in the world... you don't wanna take too many big risks.  That could be trouble.

    But I must ask... who would be a "better" CEO?  You know Steve Jobs chose Tim Cook as his successor, right?

    Not only that, in effect, he was in charge for the last few years (while Jobs was mostly focused on development).
    palomine
  • Reply 16 of 49
    croprcropr Posts: 961member
    As a developer I do understand the obstacles Apple is facing when moving from Objective-C to Swift.  However, these obstacles are not aligned with the marketing message that Swift is the great new invention and that everybody should be using it. 
    All the app developers I know are facing the same struggle to use Swift all the way, which means in practice that for iOS development we are still sticking to the ugly and inefficient  ObjectiveC until Swift has stabilized
    Deeeds
  • Reply 17 of 49
    sog35 said:
    Another example of Tim Cook's Apple.

    Too little too late.  Swift is a great idea but again Cook is late in implemented it. How many free passes will this incompetent CEO get? Another example of a half-assed project. 

    First, that's "...is late in implementing it." "-ing" not "-ed". Watch your tenses, or people might start thinking your opinions are those of an uneducated fool.

    Second, the majority of Wall Street's issues are with Apple, not Cook. Wall Street's afraid that Apple's a one-trick pony and that iPhone sales are going to crater any decade now. Their next biggest issue lies with how Apple goes its own way and totally fails to acknowledge their sage pronouncements and suggestions on what Apple needs to do to become a "successful" company. 

    Despite being the most successful company in the world.

    Third, everyone else is afraid of the same things, which makes for a "skittish" market in Apple stock. Just one supply chain rumor is enough to send it sliding. "The end is nigh! Then end is nigh!"

    Given those facts, it seems to me that you have an obsession with Cook, the person, as opposed to Apple, the company.

    I wonder why...
  • Reply 18 of 49
    crowleycrowley Posts: 6,017member
    sog35 said:

    Another example of Tim Cook's Apple.

    Too little too late.  Swift is a great idea but again Cook is late in implemented it. How many free passes will this incompetent CEO get? Another example of a half-assed project. 
    Any intelligent reasoning as to why Swift is either "too late" or "half-assed"?

    Don't worry, I'm not really expecting a reply.
  • Reply 19 of 49
    Even though sog35 comments are inflammatory I do think there is some truth to it. Tim's skill is logistics, and he is amazing at logistics, but usually what makes you good at logistics makes you not that good as a CEO. To be great logistically you have to have a healthy fear of risk. And your entire job is to mitigate that risk. But as CEO especially of a culture like apple it requires crossing the rubicon, burning the bridges kinda risk. And you do see that he has been tepid about all sorts of things. Like why he hasn't killed off certain products. Like why do they sell 6 different versions of the ipad (I'm not talking about customization like hard drive space but different versions). It's super confusing to the customer he could just simplify it small, medium, large. There are other examples were he should just risk it but seems to fear it to much.
    Deeeds
  • Reply 20 of 49
    sog35 said:
    isn't Tim an Equity owner?
    Isnt Tim showing "Jobs" like behaviour and not giving a toss about wall street and just running the biggest  and most profitable company in the world?
    Isn't Apple making more money than they know what to do with it?
    Isn't Apple launching products every year that sale like hot cakes?
    Isn't Apple leading a cut throat sector and is considered to be the leader and closely followed by all the others?
    Isnt Apple raking it by cornering the "premium sector" and having 90%+ of the profits in both mobile and "proper" PC's?

    ok you've convinced me he's a bloody useless CEO. Maybe they should go private /s

    And yet Apple shares are valued less than Coca Cola, McDonalds, Walmart, 3M, Caterpillar, Cisco, and a bunch of other companies that show little growth or no growth at all.

    That low valuation is a reflection of how Wall Street views Tim Cook.
    In what market is AAPL valued less than MCD, KO, WMT, CAT, MMM, CSCO? Per share comparisons are pointless, because every company issues a different number of shares, and those are split all the time to keep the price "manageable". If you knew anything about valuations, you would compare market cap (market capitalization, which is the number of shares multiplied by the stock price). AAPL has a market cap (as of the close today) of about $539 billion. MCD = $106 billion, KO = $180 billion, WMT = $198 billion, CAT = $35 billion, MMM = $85 billion, CSCO = $120 billion. Apple is worth anywhere from more than double to more than 10x all of those companies. Apple is still one of the biggest (if not the biggest) US company by market cap. They also posted the highest profit of any public company in the US in 2015, and generate over 90% of all smartphone profits (despite having a global share of less than 20%). If this is screwing up, then I'd like to see when Tim gets it right. Based on market cap that is 25% bigger than the next biggest company (currently Microsoft), Wall Street would appear to have no issue with Tim Cook.
    afrodriqilliapalomine
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