It's not every day that one gets to witness dramatic change happening quietly at Apple, but that's exactly what took place on Friday, as the company's Swift team launched its very own official blog.
As you may recall, Swift is a new programming language that senior vice president Craig Federighi announced at this year's Worldwide Developers Conference, which took place in San Francisco at the beginning of June. Designed to – at least for now – run alongside the venerable Objective-C, which harkens all the way back to the days of NeXT and OS X 10.0, Swift is meant to modernize the way developers build their apps by adopting many paradigms that have been available in other languages for a long time.
The new blog is notable for two reasons; the first is that – well, it's largely unprecedented. While Apple's Developer Connection website has had a blog for many years, its contents are generally limited to fairly formal communications on everything from app review policies to the occasional scheduled downtime that affects the online tools used by programmers to publish their software to the various App Stores. Outside of WWDC and the occasional TechTalk tour, Apple's relationship with developers has always been so, well, sterile that something as informal as a blog seems almost like a slightly offbeat prank.
Not just a pretty face
And this brings me to the second reason why the Swift blog is significant: It signals just how vested Apple is in its new language, and how much its management wants it to succeed.
Even based on my brief exposure to the new technology, it's clear that Apple has invested a considerable amount of time and resources on it--particularly when you consider that it had to adapt thousands upon thousands of APIs for everything from graphics drawing to hardware communication so that they would work seamlessly with it.
It's clear, then, that Swift isn't just an experiment, or a 'hobby'. It's the tool with which Apple wants to see tomorrow's apps built, and the language that is going to get the most care and love going forward.
From hobby to success
Money and programming resources, however, are not going to be enough to give Swift the boost it needs to succeed. Unlike languages like Java, which is broadly used on everything from Android devices to large-scale financial systems, it is purpose-built to satisfy the very specific needs of Apple's own platform.
In order to thrive, Swift needs one thing above all: developer buy-in. That's something that the company can only achieve by getting programmers as invested in its growth and evolution as possible. Personally, I wouldn't be the least surprised if this blog were but the opening salvo in a barrage of new initiatives centered around getting developers acquainted with Apple's plans for a future in which every app is built in Swift.
Regardless of the motivations behind it, this blog is great news. Apple's attitude towards developers has improved by leaps and bounds since WWDC, and the fact that it continues to do so can only mean that the tools and resources available to programmers will continue to improve at a rapid pace--a benefit that will ultimately trickle down to us users in the form of better and more innovative apps.