Still Using Objective-C for iOS Development in 2024? Here’s What You Need to Know

Are you still coding in Objective-C for your iOS projects? If so, you’re not alone. Despite the rise of Swift, many developers continue to use Objective-C for iOS development because of its stability and extensive libraries. But as we move further into 2024, it’s essential to understand how this language fits into the modern landscape of iOS development.

With Apple introducing Swift in 2014, some might argue that Objective-C is becoming obsolete. But there’s more to the story than meets the eye. Objective-C isn’t just surviving; it’s thriving in certain areas. It continues to be a reliable choice for maintaining existing apps and integrating with C-based libraries. Being a leading iOS app development company, we understand the importance of using Objective-C for iPhone app development.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at where Objective-C stands today. We’ll discuss its relevance, strengths, weaknesses, and how it compares with Swift. Whether you’re an experienced developer or just starting out on your iOS journey, understanding these aspects can help you make informed decisions about which language best suits your needs.

What is Objective-C?

what is objective c 2

Objective-C is a high-level programming language that was developed back in the 1980s. It’s an extension of the C language with added object-oriented capabilities and a dynamic runtime. In simpler terms, it’s like taking the power of C and combining it with additional features to make software development more efficient.


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Why is It Used in iOS Development?

Now, why would anyone use Objective-C for iOS development when there are other options available? Good question! The answer lies in its history. You see, before Swift came along (another popular language for iOS development), Objective-C was the go-to language for creating apps on Apple devices.

Objective-C has been around since the inception of iOS, making it a veteran in this field. This means there’s a wealth of existing codebases and libraries written in Objective-C that developers can leverage. Think about it – if you had access to a library full of pre-written code that could save you time and effort, wouldn’t you want to use it too?

But let’s not forget about Swift – Apple’s newer programming language. Swift is more modern and user-friendly than Objective-C, but transitioning from an established codebase to a new one isn’t always smooth sailing. It can be costly and time-consuming.

So while many developers have transitioned to Swift for its modern syntax and safety features, others continue to maintain their existing Objective-C projects due to these reasons.

In fact, according to Stack Overflow’s 2021 Developer Survey Results, 6% of professional developers still use Objective-C regularly!

So now that we’ve covered what Objective-C is and why some folks still use it for iOS development despite having newer alternatives like Swift, let’s move on to setting up your environment for Objective-C development.

How to Set Up Your Environment for Objective-C Development

How to Set Up Your Environment

Getting started with Objective-C development? You’re in the right place! Setting up your environment is the first step. It’s like setting up a kitchen before you start cooking – you need all your tools and ingredients ready to go!

To kick things off, let’s talk about what you’ll need. The main thing in your coding is Xcode – Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE). This tool comes packed with everything you need for iOS app development, including a source editor, interface builder, and even an iPhone simulator.

What Tools are Needed for Objective-C Development?

So, what exactly do we mean when we say tools? Well, think of them as your coding utensils. Just like how a chef needs knives and spatulas, developers need certain software to get the job done.

  • Firstly, Xcode is non-negotiable. This IDE is designed specifically for developing software on Mac OS X and iOS. It includes the Xcode IDE, Swift and Objective-C compilers, Instruments analysis tool, simulators…the list goes on!
  • Secondly, Objective-C itself! This programming language was once the language of choice for Apple developers until Swift came along. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s outdated – many apps still use it today!
  • Lastly, iOS SDK (Software Development Kit). Think of this as your box of ingredients. It contains libraries full of pre-written code that can help speed up your app development process.

Now that we’ve got our tools sorted out let’s set up our environment. Start by downloading Xcode from the App Store – it’s free! Once installed open it up and create a new project under File > New > Project. Select iOS at the top of the dialog box then choose Single View Application. Fill in some details for your new app and make sure Objective-C is selected as the language.

Voila! You’ve set up your environment for Objective-C development. It’s like having a clean kitchen, stocked with all the ingredients you need to whip up a delicious meal…or in this case, an awesome iOS app!

But wait, there’s more! Now that we have our environment ready let’s get down to business – understanding the basics of Objective-C. This might seem daunting at first but don’t worry, we’ll break it down into bite-sized pieces.

Understanding the Basics of Objective-C

Understanding the Basics of Objective C

Objective-C is a high-level programming language that has been around since the 1980s. It’s like an old friend to iOS developers, having played a pivotal role in building some of the most popular apps on the App Store. But don’t let its age fool you! Objective-C still packs a punch with its robust features and capabilities.

The syntax of Objective-C might seem intimidating at first glance, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get the hang of it. For instance, instead of using curly braces {} for blocks of code, Objective-C uses square brackets []. This unique feature makes your code more readable and easier to debug.

Primitive types in Objective-C are similar to those in other languages such as C++. You’ve got your integers (int), floating-point numbers (float), characters (char), and booleans (BOOL). These basic data types form the foundation upon which more complex structures can be built.

Flow control statements in Objective-C include if, else, for, while, and switch. These statements allow you to control how your program executes based on certain conditions or loops.

How Does Object-oriented Programming Work in Objective-C?

Object-oriented programming (OOP) is at the heart of modern software development, and Objective-C is no exception. It was one of the first languages to adopt OOP principles!

In OOP, everything revolves around objects – instances of classes that encapsulate data and behavior. Classes define what an object ‘is’, while methods determine what an object ‘does’.

For example, consider a class named Car. This class could have properties like color (a string), speed (an integer), and brand (another string). It could also have methods such as startEngine(), accelerate(), or brake(). When we create an instance of the Car class (an object), we can manipulate these properties and invoke these methods.

Objective-C also supports inheritance, a key feature of OOP. This means that you can create a new class based on an existing one, inheriting all its properties and methods. For example, if you have a Vehicle class with general attributes like speed and color, you could create a Car subclass that inherits these attributes but adds more specific ones like number of doors or type of transmission.

But wait! There’s more to Objective-C’s OOP capabilities. It also supports polymorphism – the ability for objects to take many forms. This allows us to write flexible code where subclasses can override parent class behavior or where an object can be treated as an instance of its parent class.

In short, Objective-C provides powerful tools for implementing complex software designs using object-oriented principles. So whether you’re building your first iOS app or modernizing an existing one, understanding how OOP works in Objective-C is essential.

Now that we’ve got the basics covered, let’s move on to something even more exciting- building your very own iOS application using Objective-C!

Building Your First iOS Application Using Objective-C

Hey there! So, you’ve decided to build your first iOS app using Objective-C. That’s awesome! Let me give you a quick walkthrough on how to create a simple application with this language.

Objective-C has been around since the 80s and it’s still going strong. It was the main programming language used by Apple for macOS and iOS operating systems, and their respective APIs, Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, until Swift came along in 2014. But don’t let its age fool you – Objective-C is still very much relevant today!

To start building your app, you’ll need Xcode – Apple’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE). Once installed, open Xcode and select Create a new Xcode project from the welcome screen. Choose iOS at the top of the dialog box that appears then select Single View App. Fill in your product name and organization identifier then make sure that Language is set to Objective-C.

What Are Some Common Challenges When Building an App With Objective-C and How Can They Be Overcome?

Building an app with Objective-C isn’t without its challenges though. One of these is memory management. Unlike Swift which uses Automatic Reference Counting (ARC), managing memory in Objective-C requires manual intervention which can lead to errors if not done correctly.

There are ways to overcome this challenge. For instance, always remember to release any object that you have allocated or retained once you’re done using it.

Another challenge could be dealing with syntax as it’s quite different from other languages like Java or Python. The good news? Practice makes perfect! The more time spend coding in Objective-C, the more comfortable you’ll become with its syntax.

One last thing before we move on- did you know that according to Stack Overflow’s Developer Survey 2020 results, only 6% of developers are currently using Objective-C? This means that you’re part of a select group of coders who have chosen to stick with this powerful language.

So, now that you’ve got the basics down and know how to overcome some common challenges, it’s time to start coding! But remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day – take your time and don’t rush. And when you’re ready, we’ll move on to our next topic- working with objects in Objective-C. Stay tuned!

Working with Objects in Objective-C

Hey, you know how we’ve been talking about iOS app development? Well, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of working with objects in Objective-C. This is a key part of building apps for OS X or iOS.

So, what’s an object? In simple terms, it’s like a little bundle that holds data and methods to manipulate that data. It’s the heart and soul of any Objective-C program.

Now here comes the interesting part- Every object in Objective-C belongs to a class. Think of classes as blueprints for creating objects. They define what kind of data an object can hold and what operations it can perform.

For instance, imagine you’re creating a music app. You might have a ‘Song’ class that defines properties like title, artist, and duration. Each song in your app would be an object belonging to this class!

But wait! There’s more! Objective-C uses dynamic typing – which means you don’t need to specify the type of an object until runtime. This gives you flexibility when coding but also requires careful handling to avoid errors.

Let me give you some stats. According to Stack Overflow Developer Survey 2020, only 4% of developers use Objective-C regularly out of 65K respondents globally! Don’t let these numbers deter you from mastering this language if your project demands it!

Remember our chat about memory management? Well here’s where things get really fun! Objective-C uses Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) for memory management which automatically frees up memory space once an object is no longer needed – pretty cool huh?

And guess what else? You can send messages between objects! Yes, just like texting your friends! Sending messages is how most operations are performed in Objective-C.

So there you go – working with objects in Objective-C may seem complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a powerful tool in your iOS development toolkit.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of objects in Objective-C, next up is something equally exciting- Extending existing classes with categories in Objective-C! But more on that later.


Extending Existing Classes With Categories in Objective-C

Hey there, have you ever thought about extending existing classes with categories in Objective-C? It’s a pretty cool trick that can make your life easier. Let me tell you how it works.

Categories are like an extension cord for your classes. They allow you to add custom behavior to existing classes without having to create a whole new subclass. This is super handy when you want to add some specific functionality but don’t want the hassle of creating and maintaining a separate class.

For instance, let’s say we have a NSString class and we want to add a method that counts the number of vowels in a string. Instead of creating a new subclass, we can just create a category on NSString and add our method there.

        objective-c @interface NSString (VowelCounting)

        And then implement it like this

        objective-c @implementation NSString (VowelCounting)

        (int)vowelCount {
            int vowelCount = 0;
            for(int i=0; i<[self length]; i++) {
                char c = [self characterAtIndex:i];
                if(c == ‘a’ || c == ‘e’ || c == ‘i’ || c == ‘o’ || c == ‘u’) {
            return vowelCount;

Now any instance of NSString has access to this vowelCount method! Isn’t that neat?

But wait, there’s more! You can also use categories to split up your code into logical sections. If you’re working on a large project with lots of methods in one class, using categories can help keep things organized and manageable.

Just remember though – while categories are great for adding methods, they can’t be used to add new instance variables to a class. For that, you’ll need to use extensions or subclassing.

So there you have it! Categories in Objective-C are a powerful tool for extending existing classes and keeping your code organized. They’re like the secret weapon of iOS development!

But what if you want to define some kind of contract between different parts of your code? That’s where protocols come in…

Protocols Define Messaging Contracts in Objective-C

Hey there! Let’s talk about something cool – protocols in Objective-C. Now, you might be thinking, What are these? Well, protocols are a crucial part of an app’s architecture. They’re like the rulebook for classes in Objective-C.

Protocols are integral to iOS app architecture as they provide structured communication interfaces between objects. Custom protocols allow architects to define custom behaviors while system protocols enable objects to take on key roles like view controller delegates, data sources, and network delegates.

Overall, protocols greatly facilitate flexible and decoupled app architectures in iOS. You can learn more by going through our post about iOS app architecture. This will help you learn more about architectural patterns and best practices.

A protocol declares methods and properties that a class must implement if it adopts that protocol. It’s like making a promise – if a class says it will adopt a protocol, it must fulfill all its requirements.

For instance, let’s say we have an e-commerce app where users can buy products and sellers can list their items for sale. We could define two protocols here- Buyer and Seller. The Buyer protocol might require methods like addToCart() and checkout(), while the Seller protocol could require listItem() and updateInventory(). Any class that adopts the Buyer or Seller protocol would then need to implement these methods.

Protocols help us ensure consistency across our codebase because every class that adopts a particular protocol will provide the same functionality as defined by that protocol.

But remember one thing- Protocols only specify what needs to be done; they don’t care about how it gets done! So two classes could implement the same protocol method in completely different ways, as long as they fulfill their contract.

Protocols are like a set of rules that classes agree to follow. They’re super useful for ensuring consistency and predictability in your code.

Now, let’s move on to another fascinating topic- memory management in Objective-C. But we’ll save that discussion for next time!

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Advanced Concepts Memory Management in Objective-C

Hey, have you ever wondered about memory management in Objective-C? It’s a pretty big deal. Let me tell you why.

Memory management is like the backstage crew of a theater production. You don’t see them, but they’re making sure everything runs smoothly. In Objective-C, it’s all about allocating and deallocating memory for objects efficiently.

For instance, when an object is created using the alloc method in Objective-C, it takes up some space in memory. This space needs to be released when the object is no longer needed – that’s where dealloc comes into play.

But here’s the catch- if you forget to release an object after use (a common mistake), it stays in memory even though it serves no purpose. This is called a memory leak. Imagine your phone battery draining faster because some apps are hogging resources unnecessarily – not cool, right?

On the flip side, releasing an object too early can lead to another problem known as dangling pointers. Here’s what happens: let’s say you’ve got an object ‘A’ pointing to another object ‘B’. If ‘B’ gets deallocated while ‘A’ still needs it… well, ‘A’ ends up pointing at nothing! That’s a dangling pointer and trust me; it can cause some serious app crashes!

Objective-C uses something called reference counting for its memory management. Each time an object gets a new owner (or reference), its count increases by one with retain. When an owner releases it with autorelease or release, the count decreases by one. The system automatically deallocates objects once their count hits zero – meaning no more owners!

Since iOS 5, we’ve had this awesome feature called Automatic Reference Counting (ARC) which does most of this work for us. It automatically inserts retain and release calls, making our lives a whole lot easier.

Understanding memory management in Objective-C is vital. It helps prevent those pesky memory leaks and dangling pointers that can cause your app to crash or slow down. Plus, it’s just good practice to keep things clean and efficient!

Now that we’ve got this sorted out, let’s move on to wrapping up our discussion about Objective-C.

Objective-C ConceptsDescription
Objects and ClassesAn object is an instance of a class. It holds data and methods to manipulate that data.

So, now you know all about using Objective-C for iOS app development. However, you also need to remember that Swift was released by Apple in 2014 and since then it has become the first choice of developers for iOS development. Swift provides simple syntax, speed and safety features which makes it popular. So, if you ever plan to switch to Swift then refer to our post on migrating from Objective-C to Swift. This will help understand the pros of Swift and how to migrate your existing iOS app from Objective-C to Swift.


We understand the dilemma you face when it comes to choosing between Objective-C and Swift for your iOS development projects. We know that making such a decision isn’t easy. But remember, every programming language has its own strengths and weaknesses. It’s all about understanding these aspects and aligning them with your project requirements.

Objective-C might be an older language compared to Swift, but it still holds relevance in today’s iOS app development landscape. If you have an existing codebase in Objective-C or if your project demands certain features exclusive to this language, then it makes sense to continue using it. However, if you’re starting from scratch or if speed and ease of maintenance are your top priorities, then Swift could be a better choice.

Our team is adept at integrating Objective-C into modern iOS apps while also keeping up with the latest advancements in Swift. We don’t just stick to one language; instead, we choose what’s best for each specific project. We have a dedicated team of Swift developers who are great at utilizing Objective-C as well as Swift for developing iOS applications.

So whether you’re an enterprise looking for custom software solutions or a startup aiming to make a mark in the digital world, our team is here to guide you through every step of your software development journey. From UI/UX design and software consulting to mobile app development and software modernization – we do it all!

Key Takeaway

The choice between Objective-C and Swift doesn’t have to be black-and-white. Each has its own merits depending on the context of use. Our experienced developers can help guide this decision based on your unique needs – ensuring that whatever path you choose leads towards success.

Ready to take the next step? Get in touch with us today! Let’s discuss how we can turn your ideas into reality using the power of modern iOS development. Remember, the best software solutions are born out of informed decisions and strategic planning – and that’s exactly what we’re here to help you with.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.