At the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2014, Apple announced a new programming language called Swift. The reaction from most of the internet was either “cool!” or “why do we need another programming language?”
I have to say that my reaction was “why?” and why compare it with Python? The comparison piqued my interest as Apple’s core market for Swift is existing Objective-C programmers and new app developers. Some of these programmers will have used Python and may be able to relate to its ease of use, but apart from this there is little to warrant the Python comparison.
If you look at this from another angle, Python is used on the popular Raspberry PI, which is aimed at Schools to help teach programming. Apple already has a substantial presence in the education sector; many schools in the US make use of iPads and Apple is already dominant in the school text book area.
So is Swift Apples play for the hearts and minds of the next generation of programmers?
How does Swift fit into this theory? If we look at the demonstration of Swift at WWDC it shows an interactive programming environment with real-time feedback and the ability to show how a program runs over time. The graphics used also seemed to be aimed at the younger generation; Tim Cook even mentioned that the youngest member of the audience was 13 years old. Apple usually have a reason for everything in their presentations.
In my view Swift is a genius move to engage the younger programming generation. If they use Swift at school they will want to use it at work, a strategy that has worked well for the likes of Microsoft. Swift provides a fun environment in which to program and I am sure Apple will throw in a few iMacs to ensure Schools adopt Swift for teaching programming.