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10 Reasons To Learn Swift Programming Language

Swift programming language is very powerful and intuitive. It incorporates the best of C and Objective-C for iOS, OS X, tvOS, and watchOS. It proves to be effective as it can eliminate the constraints of C compatibility.

Swift has the potential to become the de-facto programming language for creating immersive, responsive, consumer-facing applications for years to come. Comments can include Markdown syntax to add rich text and embedded images that display in Xcode’s Quick Help. A new assistant shows your Swift API in a “header-like” view. And new syntax features combined with improvements to the Cocoa frameworks and Objective-C will make your code more expressive, and even safer.

Swift programming language has not only received widespread acceptance but has also become one of the software developers’ favorite tools. So, here we’ll discuss 10 reasons to learn swift programming language.

  1. Swift is easier to read.
  2. It is also easy to maintain because programmers need not put effort into bookkeeping..
  3. The Swift run-time crash will stop on the line of code where a nil optional variable has been used, preventing errors in codes. Thus, swift is a safe programming language.
  4. The huge memory leaks that a programmer can have in Objective-C are impossible in Swift. We can say — it unifies with efficient memory management.
  5. It has a concise code structure.
  6. Swift is an extremely fast programming language.
  7. With Swift, namespaces are based on the target that a code file belongs to. This means programmers can differentiate classes or values using the namespace identifier. 
  8. It supports dynamic libraries.
  9. With playgrounds, it encourages interactive codings.
  10. Swift provides the development community a direct way to influence a language to create intuitive apps.

Let’s look at the benefits of learning swift in detail.

1. Swift is Easier to Read

Objective-C suffers all warts you’d expect from a language built on C. To differentiate keywords and types from C types, Objective-C introduced new keywords using the @ symbol. Because Swift isn’t built on C, it can unify all the keywords and remove the numerous @ symbols in front of every Objective-C type or object-related keyword. Swift drops legacy conventions. Thus, you no longer need semicolons to end lines or parenthesis to surround conditional expressions inside if/else statements. Another large change is that method calls do not nest inside each other resulting in bracket hell — bye-bye, [[[ ]]]

You’ll be amazed to know that currently there are nearly 2.1 million swift developers, surpassing the number of Objective-C developers (1.6 million). Also, according to the Stack OverFlow survey 2019, swift is also one of the programming languages associated with highest salaries worldwide. Perhaps, this gives many developers a reason to learn swift! ;)

Method and function call in Swift use the industry-standard comma-separated list of parameters within parentheses. The result is a cleaner, more expressive language with a simplified syntax and grammar. Swift code more closely resembles natural English, in addition to other modern popular programming languages. This readability makes it easier for existing programmers from JavaScript, Java, Python, C#, and C++ to adopt Swift into their toolchain — unlike the ugly duckling that was Objective-C. Thus, to learn swift isn’t like getting into a completely new programming language at all.

2. It is Easier To Maintain

Swift drops the two-file requirement. Xcode and the LLVM compiler can figure out dependencies and perform incremental builds automatically in Swift 1.2. As a result, the repetitive task of separating the table of contents (header file) from the body (implementation file) is a thing of the past. Swift combines the Objective-C header (.h) and implementation files (.m) into a single code file (.swift).Xcode and the LLVM compiler can do work behind the scenes to reduce the workload on the programmer. With Swift, programmers do less bookkeeping and can spend more time creating app logic. Swift cuts out boilerplate work and improves the quality of code, comments, and features that are supported.

Benefits of Swift Programming Language

3. Swift Programming Language is Safe

Optional types make the possibility of a nil optional value very clear in Swift code, which means it can generate a compiler error as you write bad code. This creates a short feedback loop and allows programmers to code with intention. Problems can be fixed as code is written, which greatly reduces the amount of time and money that you will spend on fixing bugs related to pointer logic from Objective-C. Unlike in Objective-C, in Swift, the optional types and value types make it explicitly clear in the method definition if the value exists or if it has the potential to be optional (that is, the value may exist or it may be nil).

To provide predictable behavior Swift triggers a run-time crash if a nil optional variable is used. This crash provides consistent behavior, which eases the bug-fixing process because it forces the programmer to fix the issue right away. The Swift run-time crash will stop on the line of code whenever it finds a nil optional variable. This prevents the bugs in the swift code.

4. It is Unified with Memory Management

Swift unifies the language in a way that Objective-C never has. The support for Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) is complete across the procedural and object-oriented code paths. The huge memory leaks that a programmer can have in Objective-C are impossible in Swift. A programmer should not have to think about memory for every digital object he or she creates. Because ARC handles all memory management at compile-time, the brainpower that would have gone towards memory management can instead be focused on core app logic and new features. Because ARC in Swift works across both procedural and object-oriented code, it requires no more mental context switches for programmers, even as they write code that touches lower-level APIs — a problem with the current version of Objective-C.

Automatic and high-performance memory management is a problem that has been solved by Swift and it has proven it can increase productivity. The other side effect is that both Objective-C and Swift do not suffer from a Garbage Collector running cleaning up for unused memory, like Java, Go, or C#. This is an important factor for any programming language that will be used for responsive graphics and user input, especially on a tactile device like the iPhone, Apple Watch, or iPad (where lag is frustrating and makes users perceive an app is broken).

5. Concise Code Structure

Swift reduces writing the amount of code for repetitive statements and string manipulation. Swift adopts modern programming language features like adding two strings together with a “+” operator, which is missing in Objective-C. Support for combining characters and strings like this is fundamental for any programming language that displays text to a user on a screen. The type system in Swift reduces the complexity of code statements — as the compiler can figure out types. 

Swift supports string interpolation, which eliminates the need to memorize tokens and allows programmers to insert variables directly inline to a user-facing string, such as a label or button title. The type inferencing system and string interpolation mitigate a common source of crashes that are common in Objective-C. Swift relieves you from bookkeeping work, translating into less code to write (code that is now less error-prone) because of its inline support for manipulating text strings and data.

6. Swift is Really Fast

Swift code performance continues to point to Apple’s dedication to improving the speed at which Swift can run app logic. The enhancements also enabled Swift to outperform C++ for the Mandelbrot algorithm by a factor of a mere 1.03.

With an optimized compiler for performance and the language for development, it generates faster code across the board, both for release and debug builds. The Swift compiler is also faster, even while adding new Fix-it suggestions such as where you can use let instead of var.

7. There’s Fewer Name Collision With Open Source Projects

One issue that has plagued Objective-C code is its lack of formal support for namespaces, which was C++’s solution to code file-name collisions. Swift provides implicit namespaces that allow the same code file to exist across multiple projects without causing a build failure and requiring names like NSString (Next Step — Steve Jobs’ company after being fired from Apple) or CGPoint (Core Graphics). Ultimately, this feature in Swift keeps programmers more productive. They don’t have to involve in bookkeeping that exists in Objective-C. 

You can see Swift’s influence with simple names like Array, Dictionary, and String instead of NSArray, NSDictionary, and NSString, which were born out of the lack of namespaces in Objective-C. With Swift, namespaces are based on the target that a code file belongs to. This means programmers can differentiate classes or values using the namespace identifier. This change in Swift is huge. It greatly facilitates incorporating open source projects, frameworks, and libraries into your code. The namespaces enable different software companies to create the same code filenames without worrying about collisions when integrating open source projects. Now both Facebook and Apple can use an object code file called FlyingCar.swift without any errors or build failures.

8. Swift Supports Dynamic Libraries

The biggest change in Swift is the switch from static libraries, which are updated at major point releases (iOS 8, iOS 7, and so on), to dynamic libraries. Dynamic libraries are executable chunks of code that can be linked to an app. This feature allows current Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language as it evolves. 

The developer submits the app along with the libraries, both of which are digitally signed with the development certificate to ensure integrity (hello, NSA). This means Swift can evolve faster than iOS, which is a requirement for a modern programming language. Changes to the libraries are included with the latest update of an app on the App Store, and everything simply works. It reduces the initial size of an app by linking the external codes on use-basis.

Dynamic libraries in Swift make it possible for programming language changes and improvements to propagate faster than ever before. Users no longer need to wait for iOS point releases to benefit from any performance or reliability improvements Apple introduces into Swift.

9. Swift Playgrounds Encourages Interactive Coding

Swift’s newly introduced Playgrounds are a boon to experienced developers. Playgrounds enable programmers to test out a new algorithm or graphics routine, say 5 to 20 lines of code, without having to create an entire iPhone app. 

Apple has added inline code execution to Playgrounds. It helps programmers create a chunk of code or write an algorithm while getting feedback along the way. This feedback loop improves the speed of writing codes by replacing the traditional programming with data visualizations in Playgrounds. Programming is an iterative process. Any effort to reduce strain and complement the creative process can make programmers more productive. It can also free their time to solve bigger problems rather than focusing on boring details that traditional compilers impose on programmers.

10. Swift Is A Future You Can Influence

Objective-C isn’t going anywhere, but it won’t see as many major changes, thanks to the introduction of Swift. Some Swift features will likely migrate over to Objective-C, but Objective-C’s legacy in C means it can absorb only so much. Swift provides the development community a direct way to influence a language to create apps, embedded systems (if Apple ever licenses an embedded framework and chip for third parties), and devices like the Apple Watch.

Wrapping up with the best of Swift Programming Language

Writing Swift code is interactive and fun, the syntax is concise yet expressive, and apps run lightning-fast. Swift possesses safer patterns for programming and it adds modern features to make programming easier, more flexible, and more fun.

Apple is focused on providing the best consumer experience and is building only those features deemed worthy of attention. The team supporting the development and evolution of Swift is keen on improving the language to better support the development community that builds apps and systems using Swift. If you’re thinking of learning Swift, this is the right time to get started.

If you’ve queries around different programming languages, we’ve covered some. Take a look.

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What will ‘Behavioural Changes’ Mean for India’s Digital Health Future

We are in the middle of a global pandemic, facing a threat unlike one never seen before. COVID-19 has been a reason for global concern since it has negatively impacted economies, shut down workplaces, and forced cities into lockdowns.

But history also tells us  that times of uncertainty also foster innovation. The pandemic has forced consumers and businesses to rethink how they behave both physically and digitally. As per McKinsey, COVID-19 has speeded up the adoption of digital technologies.

India, which was on the cusp of a ‘digital health’ revolution, has now been forced to embrace innovation and emerging trends. The healthcare sector holds great promise since new-age technologies like telemedicine, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), genomics, etc. are transforming healthcare services.

There have been unprecedented changes in consumer behaviour as well. People are now increasingly relying on using the internet to find clinical information or engage with healthcare professionals digitally. Moreover, online consultations, telemedicine, and e-pharmacies have seen a rise in popularity.

Companies will thus need to capitalize on the changing patterns of consumption and health-seeking behaviour.

This article focuses on how changing patient behaviour will affect India’s digital health future.

A growing Indian healthcare market

According to a report by Future Health Index, India is a leader in the adoption of digital health technology. As per India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), the Indian healthcare market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 22% to reach a valuation of USD 372 billion by 2022. This growth can be attributed to the following –

  • Growing health awareness
  • Aging population
  • Lifestyle-related diseases
  • Rising income levels
  • Growth of internet availability

The rise of digital health start-ups is also playing a role in the growth of the healthcare sector. Indian health tech startup landscape has now matured.

Over the last few years, telemedicine has emerged as a fast-growing sector in India. Prominent start-ups like Practo, mfine, and Lybrate have established themselves in the telehealth market. McKinsey estimates that India could save up to USD10 billion by 2025 by using telemedicine instead of in-person doctor appointments.

COVID-induced behavioural changes

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about changes to patient behaviour. The fear of leaving homes to get treatment has led to the growth of virtual care and telemedicine. 

As per a report by Accenture, almost 70% of the patients canceled or postponed their treatments due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Technology, therefore, played a crucial role in helping patients continue their care. Healthcare providers were even able to improve the experience for patients by delivering them faster response time, personalized interactions, and the convenience of getting consultation from home.

The same report by Accenture highlights some key behavioural changes that are being observed in patients – 

  • Nearly half of the patients now get their treatment at their homes instead of visiting a clinic.
  • Almost 60% of patients want to continue using technology for communicating with healthcare providers.
  • About 41% of patients now use video conferencing to connect with their healthcare providers. Of these, for almost 70% of patients, it’s their first-time using video conferencing for healthcare.
  • Almost 44% of patients used new apps or devices during the pandemic to manage their health conditions.

All this highlights the need for healthcare providers to reimagine their patient engagement strategies in keeping with the changing patient behavior.

Future of digital health in India

New digital technologies and tools are making an impact across the healthcare sector. They hold great promise in improving the efficiency of healthcare services while delivering better patient care. Below are some of the technological developments that are expected to revolutionize the way we seek healthcare.

Telemedicine

About 68% of India’s population lives in rural areas where healthcare services are not usually up to the mark. This barrier can be overcome by telemedicine that offers an excellent way for patients to consult a doctor in a much shorter duration. Telemedicine can cut waiting times and allow patients to avoid traveling to a clinic or hospital. Some other benefits of telemedicine include –

  • Immediate access to specialist healthcare providers.
  • Cost-effectiveness.
  • Improved quality of care.
  • Convenience to the patients.
  • Improved patient engagement.

Internet of medical things (IoMT)

The rapid growth of IoMT devices is rapidly changing healthcare delivery by playing an important role in tracking and preventing chronic illnesses.

It not only helps eliminate the need for in-person medical visits but also helps reduce costs. Goldman Sachs estimates IoMT to save USD 300 billion annually for the healthcare industry. IoMT will benefit those patients the most who are unable to get access to quality healthcare due to remote location.

Big data in healthcare

There has been dramatic growth in the amount of medical and health data in the last few years. These massive datasets can be used to draw insights and opportunities for healthcare organizations. Analysis of healthcare data can help discover warning signs and create preventive plans.

The widespread adoption of IoT devices also makes it easier to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, etc. This can help in the early detection of diseases like hypertension, asthma, heart problems, etc.

Electronic medical records

Electronic medical records or EMRs help collect, digitalize patients’ information, and store it in a single place. EMRs store various types of medical data like medical history, prescriptions, drug allergies, etc. and allow doctors to make accurate disease prognosis in a much shorter time. Some other benefits of EMRs include – 

  • Effective medical decisions.
  • Easy data recovery.
  • Improved collaboration.
  • Portability.
  • Security of medical data.

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) has a big role to play in improving healthcare since growing digitization leads to the availability of a large amount of health data. AI has the potential to transform everyday health management in the following ways –

  • Improved accessibility of healthcare services (for example – the AI-based mobile app Ada is available across 140 countries and makes it possible for anyone to have access to medical guidance).
  • Improved efficiency.
  • Accurate disease diagnosis.
  • Improved insights to reveal early disease risks (for example – a popular app Verily can forecast noncontagious and hereditary genetic diseases).
  • Time and cost savings.

mHealth

Mobile health or mHealth refers to the monitoring and sharing of health data via mobile technology like health tracking apps or wearables. 

mHealth apps can prove to be beneficial in increasing patient engagement, providing health education, and offering remote consultations to patients. It can also use the data from wearable devices to improve the quality of care. Some other benefits of mHealth include – 

  • Faster access to physicians.
  • Improved medication adherence.
  • Remote patient monitoring.
  • Increased medication reconciliation accuracy.
  • Improved coordination between healthcare providers and patients.

Conclusion

It’s quite clear that COVID-19 has significantly impacted patient behaviour. There has been a growing preference for telehealth and mHealth apps. But all of this has also compelled healthcare organizations to put in more effort in adapting to these behavioural changes. Healthcare providers are opting to rely more on new technologies to continue delivering patient care. A more affordable standard of high-quality care is in the works for India’s digital health future.

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