Difference between Swift and Objective-C

In this tutorial, you are going to understand the difference between Swift and Objective-C languages. Both languages are used for Apple development but they are different from each other, let’s understand.

How does Swift differ from Objective-C?

Swift is overtaking Objective-C to become the most popular language for the Apple platform. Even Apple is updating Objective-C as well.

Header Files

The Objective-C language is based on C, but includes OOP concepts within it. In order to use the public functions and properties of any framework, we had to import header files.

Swift does away with the need to import essential header files to write a single line of code. Now it is clean and easy to understand the code.

Type Inference

Objects in Swift and Objective-C are strongly typed. In other words, the compiler must know what type of object it is storing in memory and then store it accordingly.

In Objective-C, you have to tell the compiler about the object type while declaring a variable. But in the case of the Swift language, the compiler will automatically infer the object type if we do not define the type and assign an initial value. Based on the value type, the compiler will set the type automatically at runtime.


Due to the Swift language's compatibility with iOS 7+, apps developed with Swift can run on devices released after 2014.

With Objective-C, your app can run on any iOS version.


Swift has rich documentation that is constantly updated, where Objective-C documentation is not updated regularly.

Easy to Use

Swift is an easy-to-use language compared to Objective-C. Swift is shorter and easier to grasp, while Objective-C is based on C-style and OOPs syntax. The Swift language is more user-friendly to read, while Objective-C is more complicated. Swift's code can be easily understood by other developers, but Objective-C requires more knowledge. Objective-C is a bit complex in syntax and reading, which slows down the development process.

Execution Time

In the case of Swift, its compilation time is less than the Objective-C language. As a result, Swift does not recompile unchanged files repeatedly, but the whole code is compiled every time in Objective-C. That's why Swift-based projects compile and run quickly.

Code Lengths

In Swift, codes are small and less complex while Objective-C codes are longer and more complex.

Security & Safety

Swift was designed to improve code safety for iOS products. It was created as a type-safe and memory-safe language. Type safety means that the language itself prevents type errors. The importance of type memory safety is that it helps avoid vulnerabilities associated with dangling or uninitialized pointers. These types of errors are the most common in development and are difficult to find and debug. These advantages of the Swift language make it more attractive.

Other differences between them?

  • According to Apple, Swift is 2.6 times faster than Objective-C.

  • Many Apple developers write code in Swift instead of Objective-C.

  • Swift has multiple types of templates than Objective-C.

  • Swift is a static and strongly typed language while Objective-C is a dynamic language.

  • Objective-C language is more compatible with C/C++ languages than Swift.

  • Swift uses only a single file to maintain the declaration and implementation parts while Objective-C uses two separate files one for the declaration and another one for the implementation part.

Which one you should choose?

There are many factors to consider if you want to determine the best between these two languages. Comparatively, Swift is a more recent language while Objective-C has been there since the late 80s. The ability of the language to stay on par with the market demand will be crowned the best.

Both these languages can create a native iOS application that is almost indistinguishable from each other. Hence, workability is the determining factor. It is reported that Swift uses 60% lesser code than Objective-C. As Objective-C has been around for a much longer time, familiarity with the language and freely available resources can be a crucial factor too.

Summarize the difference between Swift and Objective-C
Comparison Swift Objective-C
Header Files You don't need to import essential header files to use them. In order to use the public function or library, you need to import header files.
Type Inference the compiler will automatically infer the object type if we do not define the type and assign an initial value. you have to tell the compiler about the object type while declaring it.
Compatibility Compatible with version iOS 7.0+ App can be run on any iOS version
Documentation Documentation is constantly updated. Documentation is not constantly updated.
Easy to Use Easy to learn and use as it has shorter syntax. A bit complex to learn and use.
Execution Time Fast to compile as Swift does not recompile unchanged files repeatedly. Compile is slow as the whole code is compiled every time in Objective-C.
Code Lengths Codes are small in length. Codes are a bit longer.
Language Type Static and strongly typed language Dynamic language


Overall, Swift is faster, more human-friendly, safer, and more documented, which is why it is the first choice for Apple development. We can add Objective-C code to a Swift-based project which means Swift has Objective-C interoperability.

Updated on: 22-Nov-2022

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