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Complete guide to Swift 3.0's new features and announcements: What to expect at WWDC 2016

Lou Hattersley | April 22, 2016
The open-source nature of Swift gives a rare opportunity to see what Apple has planned next.

What new features will Apple add to Swift at WWDC 2016?

Apple's WWDC 2016 (Worldwide Developers' Conference) is due to take place from 13-17 June, and we expect Swift 3.0 to be the star attraction.

Fortunately for us, Apple made Swift open-source at last year's WWDC, so it doesn't have the same iron-clad secrecy that surrounds most Apple products: Apple's Swift Evolution GitHub page outlines the future direction for Swift. Thanks to this rare opportunity to see what Apple has planned next, we can reveal many of the new Swift features Apple will discuss at WWDC 2016.

Swift 3.0's new features: Porting to Windows and Linux

One major implementation that we're going to see with Swift 3.0 is the porting of Swift to other operating systems. According to Apple's Swift Evolution GitHub page, the Swift team intends to "make Swift available on other platforms and ensure that one can write portable Swift code that works properly on all of those platforms."

That Swift is heading to Linux, and perhaps even Windows, is no secret. As soon as Apple made Swift open-source the potential was there to port it to other operating systems.

Craig Federighi, Apple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, said: "We're certainly open to the community creating a Windows port, and there's a good foundation for that in that the LLVM and Clang environments that are foundations for building and compiling Swift have been ported to Windows. We fully support the community doing that port. Regarding us getting the [open-source] project off the ground, we wanted to focus our energy on our platforms and Linux to start."

It certainly seems that taking Swift to other platforms is going to be part of WWDC: Linux for sure and Windows possibly. Microsoft, for its part, has brought Ubuntu Linux inside Windows 10, so we're seeing some convergence for developers on all platforms.

Again, we should note that features Swift on Linux or Windows is not the same as having Xcode and the Apple SDK (software development kits) available. You won't be able to developer OS X (or "macOS" as it's rumoured to be renamed at WWDC 2016) and iOS apps.

Swift 3.0's new features: Welcoming Google to the fray

Meanwhile, we've heard rumours that Google is preparing to drop its Java-based programming language for Android in favour of Swift (in part to sidestep increasing legal problems Google is having with Oracle, the owners of Java).

This would be a bold step, and while it seems odd for fierce rivals like Google and Apple to share a base language, it'd be a move welcomed by developers. Swift is the "most loved" programming language, according to StackOverflow's 2015 survey. It makes sense in a lot of ways for Apple and Google to focus on promoting one underlying coding language and then work to develop their strengths inside that.


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