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Complete guide to Swift 3.0 and its new features

Lucy Hattersley | June 21, 2016
Apple has announced Swift 3.0. Here's everything you need to know about the Swift 3 app coding language and its new features

It certainly seems that taking Swift to other platforms is going to be part of WWDC: Linux for sure and Windows possibly. Microsoft, for its part, has brought Ubuntu Linux inside Windows 10, so we're seeing some convergence for developers on all platforms.

Again, we should note that features Swift on Linux or Windows is not the same as having Xcode and the Apple SDK (software development kits) available. You won't be able to developer OS X (or "macOS" as it's rumoured to be renamed at WWDC 2016) and iOS apps.

Swift 3.0's new features: Welcoming Google to the fray

Meanwhile, we've heard rumours that Google is preparing to drop its Java-based programming language for Android in favour of Swift (in part to sidestep increasing legal problems Google is having with Oracle, the owners of Java).

This would be a bold step, and while it seems odd for fierce rivals like Google and Apple to share a base language, it'd be a move welcomed by developers. Swift is the "most loved" programming language, according to StackOverflow's 2015 survey. It makes sense in a lot of ways for Apple and Google to focus on promoting one underlying coding language and then work to develop their strengths inside that.

Whether Google joins the Swift party is up to them, but we'll probably find out one way or the other at WWDC 2016.

Swift 3.0 at WWDC 2016: New features

Looking at the release notes for Swift 3.0, we can also see some things that the Swift team is looking at. Here are some highlights:

  • Stabilize the binary interface (ABI). The Swift team is looking to create a more stable ABI allowing Swift to interact with different types of computers (at the binary level). Again, this points to Swift being ported to different computers.
  • Complete generics. Swift uses generics (algorithms that are instatiated when needed) throughout its libraries, and Swift 3.0 will fully complete the implementation.
  • Type system cleanup and documentation. Swift 3.0 will "Revisit and document the various subtyping and conversion rules in the type system, as well as their implementation in the compiler's type checker."
  • Focus and refine the language. There's little detail here as to how,  but the Evoltuion Document notes that: "Swift's rapid development has meant that it has accumulated some language features and library APIs that don't fit well with the language as a whole. Swift 3 will remove or improve those features to provide better overall consistency for Swift."
  • API Guidelines. Swift 3.0 provides new design guidelines for developers building APIs.

An out-of-scope section details what Swift 3.0 won't be doing in the future; in particular, it won't be expanding out to C++ Interoperability, so C++ programmers won't be able to integrate their code in the same way as Objective-C designers.


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