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Seven Swift 2 enhancements every iOS developer will love

Paul Solt | Feb. 2, 2016
Apple makes good on Swift’s emphasis on performance, approachability, and ease in latest update.

Protocol extensions allow any protocol (for example, interface in Java) to be enhanced with both new behavior and state. This is huge for Swift and it’s going to change the face of the Swift Standard Library, open source code, and how you approach developing your code base.

The introduction of protocol extensions also brings new APIs, and with this, most free-standing global functions have been removed. As a result, the standard dot syntax variableName.methodName() is now readily available for you to use, thereby enhancing API discoverability and coder productivity.

With protocol extensions in Swift 2, if a feature or method doesn’t exist, you can write your own. For example, you can extend the Array structure that Apple provides with new functions or methods. In Objective-C, the NSMutableArray has a method to remove multiple elements as a single line of code, named removeObjectsInArray:. In Swift (2.1) there is no method to remove multiple elements from the Swift Array structure using a single method call. Using a protocol extension, you can add this method to the Array structure.

// Extend the Array class when Elements are comparable
extensionArraywhere Element: Equatable { 
   // Remove a single Element if it is found in the Array
   mutating func removeObject(object: Element) {
       if let index = self.indexOf(object) {
   // Remove multiple Elements using the previous method and a loop
   mutating func removeObjectsInArray(array: [Element]) {
       for object in array {
var students = ["John", "Sue", "Michael", "Chris", "David", "Benjamin"]
var studentsToRemove = ["Michael", "David", "Benjamin"]
print("Students: ", students)
// Remove an array of student names
print("Students: ", students)
print("Students: ", students)
Download Swift Playground files

This kind of protocol extension will allow you to reuse a few lines of code in your app without having to copy/paste the same logic into every code file you need to maintain.


Apple has worked to make Swift more approachable, and one such change is Swift 2’s movement away from traditional bit mask options. Swift 2’s new OptionSetType uses set logic instead of bitwise operations (which is not the best-understood topic for beginners, nor should it be required).

Traditional Objective-C and C APIs have used bitwise operations to logically combine multiple options in order to pass as a single value -- an optimization at the bit level that requires an understanding of how bit masks and bitwise operations work. With OptionSetType it’s no longer necessary to fully understand bit masks to create and sell apps on the App Store.

This is a win for developers because it frees them of a legacy programming model that requires more hard-to-read boilerplate code.


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