Top 10 Popular iOS Languages for App Development: A 2024 Guide

In the rapidly evolving world of mobile application development, choosing the right programming language is crucial for creating robust applications.

Created by: Adeshola Bello /

Vetted by:

Otse Amorighoye

Top 10 Popular iOS Languages for App Development: A 2024 Guide

In the rapidly evolving world of mobile application development, choosing the right programming language is crucial for creating robust, efficient, and user-friendly apps. As of 2024, the iOS platform continues to dominate a significant portion of the mobile app market, driving developers to adopt languages that can leverage its full potential. This guide explores the top 10 popular iOS languages for app development in 2024, providing insights into their features, use cases, and benefits.

1. Swift

Overview: Swift is Apple's powerful and intuitive programming language designed specifically for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS app development. Since its introduction in 2014, Swift has rapidly gained popularity due to its modern features, safety, and performance.

Features:

  • Easy to Learn: Swift's syntax is concise and expressive, making it accessible to beginners and experienced developers alike.

  • Safety: Swift eliminates entire classes of unsafe code. Variables are always initialized before use, arrays and integers are checked for overflow, and memory is managed automatically.

  • Performance: Swift is optimized for performance and uses the high-performance LLVM compiler technology.

Use Cases:

  • Ideal for developing all kinds of iOS applications, from simple games to complex enterprise-level apps.

Benefits:

  • Strong support from Apple.

  • Regular updates and a growing community.

  • Excellent integration with Apple's development environment, Xcode.

2. Objective-C

Overview: Objective-C was the primary language for iOS development before Swift's introduction. It is an object-oriented programming language that adds Smalltalk-style messaging to the C programming language.

Features:

  • Dynamic Runtime: Objective-C has a dynamic runtime, which provides significant flexibility in how objects and methods interact.

  • Compatibility: It is highly compatible with C and C++.

Use Cases:

  • Legacy iOS applications and systems.

  • Applications requiring extensive use of C/C++ libraries.

Benefits:

  • Mature and stable with extensive libraries and frameworks.

  • Long-standing support and a wealth of documentation and resources.

3. C#

Overview: C# is a versatile language developed by Microsoft, commonly used with the Xamarin framework for cross-platform mobile app development. Xamarin allows developers to write native iOS apps using C#.

Features:

  • Cross-Platform: Write once, run anywhere – code can be shared across iOS, Android, and Windows platforms.

  • Modern Language Features: C# offers modern language features such as asynchronous programming, LINQ, and a rich standard library.

Use Cases:

  • Cross-platform applications needing to share codebases across iOS and Android.

  • Enterprise applications that leverage Microsoft technologies.

Benefits:

  • Efficient development cycle with code sharing.

  • Strong tooling support from Visual Studio.

  • Access to .NET libraries.

4. JavaScript

Overview: JavaScript, often used with frameworks like React Native, enables developers to build cross-platform mobile applications using web technologies.

Features:

  • Component-Based Architecture: React Native allows for building encapsulated components that manage their own state.

  • Hot Reloading: Instant feedback during development by running new code while retaining the app's state.

Use Cases:

  • Cross-platform mobile applications.

  • Applications that require rapid development and iteration.

Benefits:

  • Large developer community and extensive libraries.

  • Code reuse between web and mobile applications.

  • Speedy development process.

5. Python

Overview: Python, known for its simplicity and readability, can be used for iOS development through frameworks like Kivy and BeeWare.

Features:

  • Easy to Learn: Python's syntax is clear and straightforward, making it a great choice for beginners.

  • Versatile: Extensive libraries and frameworks for a variety of applications, including web, mobile, and data science.

Use Cases:

  • Prototyping and developing simple iOS applications.

  • Applications that require integration with machine learning models or backend services.

Benefits:

  • High productivity due to rapid prototyping capabilities.

  • Extensive support libraries and frameworks.

  • Strong community support.

6. Kotlin

Overview: Kotlin, officially supported by Google for Android development, can also be used for iOS development via the Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM) project. It allows sharing code between iOS and Android.

Features:

  • Interoperability: Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java, and Kotlin/Native allows compiling Kotlin to native binaries.

  • Concise Syntax: Less boilerplate code compared to Java.

Use Cases:

  • Cross-platform applications with shared business logic between iOS and Android.

  • Applications that benefit from Kotlin’s modern features.

Benefits:

  • Shared codebase reduces development time and effort.

  • Strong support from JetBrains and Google.

  • Robust and type-safe language features.

7. Dart

Overview: Dart, developed by Google, is primarily used with the Flutter framework for building natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase.

Features:

  • Fast Development: Hot reload speeds up the development process by allowing changes to be seen immediately.

  • Expressive UI: Flutter’s widget-based framework allows for highly customizable and expressive UIs.

Use Cases:

  • Cross-platform mobile applications with a single codebase.

  • Applications that require a high degree of custom UI design.

Benefits:

  • Single codebase for multiple platforms.

  • Strong performance due to native compilation.

  • Growing community and support from Google.

8. Ruby

Overview: Ruby, known for its simplicity and productivity, can be used for iOS development through the RubyMotion framework, which allows writing native apps in Ruby.

Features:

  • Concise and Readable: Ruby’s syntax is clean and easy to understand, promoting quick development.

  • Powerful Libraries: Access to a variety of libraries for different functionalities.

Use Cases:

  • Rapid prototyping and development of iOS applications.

  • Applications that benefit from Ruby’s dynamic nature.

Benefits:

  • High productivity due to Ruby’s expressiveness.

  • Strong focus on simplicity and ease of use.

  • Access to the Ruby ecosystem and libraries.

9. Lua

Overview: Lua is a lightweight, high-level scripting language often used in game development. It can be integrated into iOS applications using frameworks like Corona SDK.

Features:

  • Simplicity: Lua’s simple syntax and semantics make it easy to learn and use.

  • Embedded Language: Lua is designed to be embedded into applications, providing flexibility in game development.

Use Cases:

  • Mobile game development.

  • Applications requiring an embedded scripting language.

Benefits:

  • Fast and efficient due to its lightweight nature.

  • Flexibility in extending and modifying application behavior.

  • Widely used in the gaming industry.

10. Rust

Overview: Rust is a systems programming language focused on safety, performance, and concurrency. It can be used for iOS development through frameworks like Rust binding for Swift.

Features:

  • Memory Safety: Rust ensures memory safety without a garbage collector, preventing null pointer dereferencing and buffer overflows.

  • Concurrency: Rust’s ownership model makes it easier to write concurrent code without data races.

Use Cases:

  • Performance-critical applications.

  • Applications requiring safe concurrency.

Benefits:

  • High performance and memory safety.

  • Modern language features and a growing ecosystem.

  • Ideal for low-level programming and systems development.

Conclusion

Choosing the right programming language for iOS development in 2024 depends on various factors, including project requirements, team expertise, and long-term maintenance considerations. Swift remains the go-to language for most iOS applications due to its seamless integration with Apple's ecosystem and modern features. However, languages like Objective-C, C#, JavaScript, Python, Kotlin, Dart, Ruby, Lua, and Rust each have their own strengths and are suitable for specific use cases.

By understanding the capabilities and benefits of these languages, developers can make informed decisions that align with their project goals and ensure the successful development of high-quality iOS applications.