Swift: Apple’s next-generation programming language 4 years in the making

Swift, Apple’s new programming language billed as taking the C out of Objective-C, was one of the biggest surprises at WWDC 2014. The Swift project started at Apple roughly 4 years ago as one of several explorations into what would replace the NeXT-era Object-C language. It was spearheaded by Chris Lattner, head of Apple’s developer tools department, who also spearheaded LLVM (lower level virtual machine) and Clang, Apple’s compiler technologies. Lattner shared some insight into Swift on his site, nondot:

I started work on the Swift Programming Language (wikipedia) in July of 2010. I implemented much of the basic language structure, with only a few people knowing of its existence. A few other (amazing) people started contributing in earnest late in 2011, and it became a major focus for the Apple Developer Tools group in July 2013.

The Swift language is the product of tireless effort from a team of language experts, documentation gurus, compiler optimization ninjas, and an incredibly important internal dogfooding group who provided feedback to help refine and battle-test ideas. Of course, it also greatly benefited from the experiences hard-won by many other languages in the field, drawing ideas from Objective-C, Rust, Haskell, Ruby, Python, C#, CLU, and far too many others to list.

That Swift won out over existing higher level and scripting language projects is provocative, but it’s also early days. There’s no word on how much, if any, of Swift will be open sourced, for example. Right now Lattner and team are focused exclusively on getting the final release ready for the fall. Swift has only just been introduced and thousands if not millions of people will soon be hitting it full speed and full force. They’ll find edge cases and do things no internal planning or QA (quality assurance) can prepare for or expect. Apple will learn and Swift will change and evolve.

So will the rest of Apple’s platforms. Objective-C was the result of Apple buying NeXT. Swift is the result of steady, continuous changes. It’s the result of smart management and responsible stewardship, that, in the fullness of time, will likely result in just as much of a leap forward as a NeXT-style purchase. It’s also something more.

In his brief write up Lattner discusses Playgrounds, the interactive environment in Xcode, and his hopes that making programming more fun Apple can appeal to the next generation of programmers.

That’s an incredibly important point and incredibly laudable focus. If there’s one thing I’ve heard repeatedly from developers since Swift’s unveiling it’s exactly that hope. My generation grew up with Basic and Logo and other languages that made it relatively easy to get programming into elementary schools and kids into programming even at a very young age. The Web inspector provides similarly immediate feedback for modern web developers.

Objective-C was unlikely to be in any grade school curriculum, unlikely to be any child’s first programming language. We’ll have to wait and see how Swift and Playgrounds fare, but if they really do make it easier to engage new programmers at a younger age the value to Apple, the industry, and the future will be incalculable.

Apple has made the Swift Programming Language Guide available in the iBook Store. Anyone not already a seasoned Objective C programmer thinking of giving it a shot?



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The Bizarre Failed Weapons That Led to the Stun Gun

The Bizarre Failed Weapons That Led to the Stun Gun

Stun guns themselves certainly aren’t perfect solutions to the problem crowd control. But compared to what came before it, the modern stun gun seems downright civil.

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iPhone tops JD Power satisfaction survey

The iPhone has once again received high marks on J.D. Power’s 2014 U.S. Wireless Smartphone Satisfaction Survey, getting the highest satisfaction rankings of any device at the four major U.S. carriers. Both Apple and chief rival Samsung were ranked “Among the Best” at Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile, and were well above the average ranking at three out of the four.

Price is becoming an increasingly important factor when purchasing a device. More than one-fifth of smartphone owners now say that price is main reason they chose their current device. However, customers reported lower levels of satisfaction with devices purchased for their lower price, and were less likely to purchase from that manufacturer again than if they had purchased the device for product-related reasons, like operating system.

What was your main factor in picking up an iPhone? Are you likely to stick with it the next time you buy a phone? Let us know below in the comments.

Source: J.D. Power



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How Location Scouts Find The Places That Look Like Somewhere Else

How Location Scouts Find The Places That Look Like Somewhere Else

For filmmakers, Los Angeles is basically infinite. It is a mega-city that contains every other city within it—indeed, seemingly every other Earthly landscape is hidden somewhere in plain sight—whether it’s a street that looks like Manhattan or a county park that literally looks like another world. In Los Angeles, something as simple as an empty parking lot can be transformed into a virtual window, a portal or gate through which film or TV crews can pull distant visions of another location. Around that corner could be Chicago, London, or even Seoul.

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Verizon pushes FCC to reconsider restrictions on upcoming spectrum auction

Verizon isn’t taking too kindly to proposed regulations on an upcoming spectrum auction, and is hoping the FCC will change its ways before the sale opens next year. The auction, which will have extremely valuable 600MHz spectrum up for grabs in mid-2015, is expected to have restrictions imposed on it to limit big players like Verizon and AT&T from taking it all for themselves.

The FCC is proposing that the auction have rules that will limit any one company from picking up more than a third of the spectrum available in any given market. The goal is to open up the doors for smaller players like T-Mobile, Sprint and regional carriers to pick up the much-needed low-band spectrum, which is usually unobtainable because of the high bids larger carriers can put in.

Verizon has spoke to members of the FCC this week to express its displeasure with the potential rules, saying that it’s putting unfair restrictions on larger carriers, even though the likes of Sprint and T-Mobile have the means to place large bids for spectrum:

“T-Mobile and Sprint are large corporations with established, well-financed corporate parents. They and their parent corporations are more than capable of paying substantial amounts to acquire spectrum in the incentive auction if they choose to do so.”

Verizon claims that Sprint and T-Mobile, owned by SoftBank and Deutsche Telekom, respectively, could easily pay what Verizon and AT&T have for these airwaves. Though the FCC’s goal is to distribute some of the low-band spectrum to smaller carriers, it also has to consider the fact that it needs to raise at least $7 billion in the auction to pay the broadcast companies that are giving up the spectrum. An auction without Verizon or AT&T may drastically limit the amount of money raised by the auction, even though it is putting up 30MHz of spectrum for grabs.

Source: Reuters



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Home Connect from BSH will connect all your appliances to your mobile device

At the annual IFA Global Press Conference today, home appliances manufacturer BSH pulled the wraps off its new connected home solution. Home Connect brings connectivity to the appliances in your home to smartphones and tablets, but perhaps more importantly it will be an open standard. This means that Home Connect will be compatible with multiple different brands, and it will be run as a separate company.



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New Wireless Power Set Up Charges 40 Smartphones from Across the Room

New Wireless Power Set Up Charges 40 Smartphones from Across the Room

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you never had to plug in your phone? Well, a team of Korean scientists say that they’re one step closer to making that fantasy a reality with new wireless power transfer technology that works from over 15 feet away. And it works pretty damn well, too.

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Scientists Figured Out a Way to Help Power Homes with Toilet Flushes

Scientists Figured Out a Way to Help Power Homes with Toilet Flushes

A team of researchers in South Korea have a pretty exciting new idea for hydroelectricity. They figured out a way to turn the mechanical energy from flowing water into a sustainable energy source. In other words, your toilet flushes could help power your home.

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The Beautiful Radio Station Broadcasting From Nepal’s “Hidden Kingdom”

The Beautiful Radio Station Broadcasting From Nepal's "Hidden Kingdom"

Mustang is one of the most remote parts of Nepal: Nestled on the border of Tibet, it was one of the last parts of the country to encounter Westerners. It’s been described as a "hidden kingdom" that’s been "virtually unchanged since the 15th century," but modern technology—like radio—is coming.

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Mt. Gox faces liquidation as recovery plans scrapped

A Japanese court-appointed administrator is now in control of Mt. Gox following an unsuccessful attempt to save the business. The Bitcoin exchange filed for bankruptcy in February after losing 850,000 Bitcoins, though it later found around a quarter…

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