Programming in Swift: Benefits of This Popular Coding Language

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

There many advantages to programming in Swift, beyond the creation of iPhone apps.

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Swift is a clean and concise language that is also growing fast and gaining popularity. Initially developed only for native iOS development, programmers also use Swift to write safe, concise, and easy-to-use code for operating systems like Windows and Linux.

Apple created Swift, an open-source programming language, as a replacement for all languages based on C, including Objective C, C++, and C. The language was created in 2014 and released to the public as an open-source project in 2015 on

In its short time as a programming language, Swift has climbed to the 20th most commonly used programming language worldwide and the 14th most popular language among programmers [1, 2]. 

Can you program in Swift on Windows?

Before diving deeper into Swift, let's examine compatible programming environments. Swift is available on Windows and Linux in addition to macOS. As a result, you don't need a Mac to learn Swift. However, you will need a Mac to create iOS applications because you'll need to use Xcode.


Features of Swift

Programming in Swift is safe, fast, and relatively easy to use compared to older, more established languages like Objective-C. Other reasons to learn to program in Swift are the intuitive nature of the language and the tight-knit community built around the language. Learning programming in Swift is more accessible than with other languages, and you’ll find more tools for learning the language. Consider the following features of the Swift programming language:

  • Automatic Reference Counting (ARC). Determines which instances are no longer in use and automatically removes them. 

  • Closures unified with function pointers. Function pointers contain the address of a specific function and point to code vs. data. Using a function pointer, you signify a particular behavior by calling the function instead of writing code. Closures contain these function pointers. Swift’s nested functions mean that closures are unified with function pointers and can take values from the functions enclosed within the closure. 

  • Tuples and multiple return values. In Swift, you can return multiple values from a function instead of only one. Other C languages allow you to return multiple values using pointers, structures, or arrays. But Swift allows you to return multiple values from functions using tuples, returned as a single entity from a function. Tuples are unchangeable or fixed sets of elements arranged in an ordered sequence. 

  • Generics. Generics help find errors in code by enabling types to be used as parameters. Generics in Swift allows users to write reusable functions and types that can work with any type in relation to the requirements you define. 

  • Fast and concise iteration over a range or collection. Swift provides a simple way to loop over all elements in an array. An array is a collection of similar elements grouped together for easier referencing and indexing. Since Swift already knows what kind of data your array holds, it can quickly and efficiently run blocks of code by assigning every element in an array a constant you name.

  • Structs that support methods, extensions, and protocols. You’ll find that when creating, naming, and using structs within Swift, you have the ability to add additional functionality using extensions, including the option to extend types even if you lack access to the original code source.

  • Functional programming patterns. This function takes in an array and repeatedly computes a value, creating a pattern that will be returned to the code that called for that action.

  • Powerful built-in error handling. Error handling determines what happens when an error occurs, for example, when someone inputs a wrong password to a login. There are four ways to handle errors in Swift: throwing, catching, propagating, and manipulating recoverable errors at runtime.

  • Advanced control flow with do, guard, defer, and repeat keywords. Swift uses control flow statements to control how a program runs. There are a few types of control flow statements, including control transfer statements, loop statements, and branch statements. You can access more advanced control flow features with Swift’s do statement to introduce scope, guard to manage errors, defer statement to run clean-up actions, and repeat to allow for a block of code to run more than once, depending upon conditions. 

Advantages of programming in Swift

Swift is designed to be a safe, easy-to-use alternative to the more well-established Objective-C. As a result, there are many advantages to programming in Swift:


Specifically designed to be safer than C-based languages, Swift eliminates entire classes of unsafe code as a preventative measure and allows for “cleaner” code with fewer runtime crashes.

With Swift, variables are initialized before use, arrays and integers are checked for overflow, and memory is automatically managed. Developers can also easily see any code errors, reducing the time spent on debugging and removing the risk of low-quality code.


Apple claims that search algorithms complete up to 2.6 times faster than Objective-C and up to 8.4 times faster than Python 2.7 [3]. Swift uses LLVM as its compiler framework, which translates the assembly language to the machine code and optimizes it.

This means you use less code than you would with Objective-C, making development faster. Using Swift on both the back and front end of an app, for example, allows for extensive code sharing and reuse, speeding up the development process and reducing development efforts. 


Use open-source Swift across major platforms like Windows and Linux. This makes the language particularly ideal for mobile developers. While Swift runs across other platforms, keep in mind you’ll need cross-platform programs like Sublime Text or Atom. 


Swift is a programming language built to be incredibly user-friendly. From concise syntax to inferred type, code is made simpler. 


Swift is a widely available, free programming language. As an open-source language, you’ll find third-party tools, help when you need it, and a knowledgeable community of like-minded users to help you learn Swift. 

Objective-C interoperability

Create an entirely new application with Swift, or begin using Swift code to implement new features and functionality in your app. Swift code co-exists alongside existing Objective-C files in the same project, with full access to your Objective-C API, making it easy to adopt.

Disadvantages of Swift programming

While there are many advantages of programming in Swift, there are some disadvantages to remember.

Smaller community

Despite its popularity, only 4.6 percent of developers worldwide use Swift [4]. There are many reasons to believe this community will only grow in size and knowledge base, but in the meantime, it’s something to consider when learning to program in Swift. 

Misperception as “Apple only language”

Swift can also appear to be pigeonholed as only an iOS/Apple/Mac language because of the smaller community and features designed for use with Apple products.

This misperception could be because Swift is a compiled rather than technical language, so more programmers are hesitant to cross over to Swift completely. As a result, it's not yet a widely adopted language in the developer community. 

Newer language

Swift may not be as developed or supported as older languages, leaving some new to the language needing additional resources. There’s a bit of a learning curve for many veteran programmers who might be used to more established programming languages like Objective-C.

This disadvantage also makes it more challenging to work with older versions since Swift only supports iOS 7 and macOS 10.9 or higher. 

Not a reflective language

Since Swift is a statically typed language, it can take an object and self-describe it but can’t manipulate it from within. Swift has a mirroring functionality to compensate for this downfall, but many programmers argue it’s not the same. 

What salary can a Swift programmer expect?

According to Glassdoor, the average base salary for Swift software engineers working in the US is about $115,842 a year. Annual base income ranges from $106,000 to $147,000 a year [5].    

Factors affecting your annual salary as a Swift programmer or developer include years of experience, location, and skill level. 


Get started learning Swift today with Coursera

You’ll find many free and easy-to-use resources to help you learn programming in Swift within a few months, like the Swift Mentorship Program or Swift Playground app.

Another route is enrolling in a course designed for someone who wants to learn Swift specifically for iOS application development such as the Introduction to iOS App Development with Swift 5 offered by LearnQuest. 

Article sources


ZDNet. "This old programming language is suddenly getting more popular again," Accessed December 15, 2023.

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