Xcode vs Swift

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Last updated on
11st Mar, 2021
11st Nov, 2019
Xcode vs Swift

Xcode and Swift are two different products developed by Apple for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. While Xcode is an integrated development environment (IDE) for macOS containing a suite of software development tools to develop software for macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS, Swift is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language developed iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, Linux, and z/OS. So it is clear that they can not be compared with each other. On the contrary, Swift is compatible with Xcode as Swift v 5.1, the default version of Swift is included in Xcode v 11. 

In this article, we will go through what Xcode and Swift are in general and cover their features strengths and weaknesses followed by how Swift is compatible with Xcode. 


It was first released in 2003 as version 1 with the latest stable one being version 10.2.1 released on 17 April 2019. It can be downloaded from the Mac App Store and is free to use for macOS Mojave users. Registered developers may download the preview releases and previous versions of the suite using via the Apple Developer website.  

Overview of the major features

Overview of the major features

  • Support: Programming languages such as C, C++, Objective-C, Objective-C++, Java, AppleScript, Python, Ruby, ResEdit (Rez), and Swift are supported by Xcode with source code along with support for a variety of programming models including Cocoa, Carbo, and Java. Not only that, there is additional support via third parties for GNU Pascal, Free Pascal, Ada, C#, Perl, and D 
  • Capability: Xcode can build fat binary files that include the code for various architectures in the Mach-O executable format. Known as universal binary files, these allow the application to run on both PowerPC and Intel-based (x86) platforms including both 32-bit and 64-bit codes 
  • Compiling and debugging: Xcode uses the iOS SDK to compile and debug applications for iOS that run on ARM architecture processors 
  • GUI tool: Xcode comprises of the GUI tool, Instruments that runs dynamic tracing framework on the top of DTrace, a dynamic tracing framework designed by Sun Microsystems and released as a part of OpenSolaris. 

Advantages and disadvantages of Xcode: 

Advantages and disadvantages of Xcode

Xcode is designed by Apple and will only work with Apple operating systems: macOS, iOS, iPadOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Since its release in 2003, Xcode has made significant improvements and the latest version, Xcode 10.2.1 has all the features that are needed to perform continuous integration. 

Let us have a look at the pros of using Xcode: 

  • Equipped with a well designed and easy to use UI creator 
  • Excellent for code completion 
  • Using Xcode, a developer can learn profiling and heap analysis in a natural way 
  • Xcode’s simulator lets you easily test your app while you build it in an environment that simulates your iPhone 
  • The app store has a wide range of audience who are willing to pay for apps. 

Now, the cons: 

  • Clunky and outdated Objective C makes it more frustrating if you are habituated to use a modern language 
  • No support for tabbed work environments makes it difficult to work with multiple windows 
  • Hardly any information can be found online to solve problems due to a previous Apple NDA on Xcode development 
  • It is a complicated process to export your app onto a device 
  • Will only work with Apple operating systems 
  • The App Store approval process can be annoyingly lengthy.


Swift symbol

Swift was launched at Apple's 2014 Worldwide Developers Conference as a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, Linux, and z/OS Being a new entry these operating systems, Swift accelerates on the best parts of C and Objective C without being held back by its compatibility. It utilises safe patterns for programming, adding more features to it, thus making programming easier and more flexible. By developing their existing debugger, compiler and framework infrastructure, it took quite some time to create the base for Swift. Furthermore, Automatic Reference Counting was used to simplify the memory management part. The framework stack which was once built upon a solid framework of Cocoa and Foundation has undergone significant changes and is now completely regulated and refurbished. 

Developers who have worked with Objective-C do find Swift quite similar. Objective-C’s dynamic object model and its comprehensively named parameters provide a lot of control to Swift.  

Developers can use Swift to have access to the existing Cocoa framework in addition to the mix and match interoperability with an objective C code. Swift uses this common rule to offer multiple new features in combination with object-oriented and procedural portions of the language. 

The idea is to create the best possible language for a wide range of uses, varying from desktop and mobile apps, systems programming, and scaling up to cloud services. The designing of Swift was done to make sure that developers find it easy to maintain and write correct programs. 

Coding done in Xcode is safe, fast and expressive. 

Swift offers a host of features that give developers the control needed to make the code easy to read and write. Furthermore, Apple made Swift to be easily understandable to help developers avoid making mistakes while coding and make the code look organised, along with the modules that give namespaces and eliminate headers. Since Swift uses some features present in other languages, one of them being named parameters written with clean syntax that makes the APIs much easier to maintain and read. Here are some of the additional features of Swift: 

Additional features of swift

  • Multiple return values and Tuples 
  • Generics 
  • Short and quick iterations over a collection or range 
  • Structs that support extensions, methods and protocols 
  • Functional programming patterns 
  • Advanced control flow 
  • Powerful error handling. 

These features are systematically designed to make them work together resulting in creating a powerful but fun-to-use language. 

Advantages and disadvantages of Swift: 

Advantages and disadvantages of Swift

Pros of using the Swift Programming language: 

  • Easy to read and maintain: The Swift program codes are based on natural English as it has borrowed syntaxes from other programming languages. This makes the language more expressive 
  • Scalable: Users can add more features to Swift, making it a scalable programming language. In the future, Swift is what Apple is relying on and not Objective C 
  • Concise: Swift does not include long lines of code and that favours the developers who want a concise syntax, thus increasing the development and testing rate of the program 
  • Safety and improved performance: It is almost 40% better than the Objective-C when speed and performance are taken into consideration as it is easy to tackle the bugs which lead to safer programming 
  • Cross-device support: This language is capable of handling a wide range of Apple platforms such as iOS, iOS X, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS. 
  • Automatic Memory Management: This feature present in Swift prevents memory leaks and helps in optimizing the application’s performance that is done by using Automatic Reference Counting. 

Cons of Swift: 

  • Compatibility issues: The updated versions Swift is found to a bit unstable with the newer versions of Apple leading to a few issues. Switching to a newer version of Swift is the fix but that is costly 
  • Speed Issues: This is relevant to the earlier versions of the Swift programming language 
  • Less in number: The number of Swift developers is limited as Swift is a new programming language 
  • Delay in uploading apps: Developers will be facing delays over their apps written in Swift to be uploaded to the App Store only after iOS 8 and Xcode 6 are released. The estimated time for release is reported to be September-October, 2014. 


So as we discussed both Xcode and Swift, it is clear that they cannot be compared to each other. In fact, they both complement each other to deliver impressive results without any headaches. Apple relies on both quite a lot and it is certain to have Swift and Xcode the perfect combination of a robust application and a user-friendly programming language.



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