​Apple makes Swift 2 programming language open-source

Apple's programming language is opening itself up to the masses, meaning more apps on more platforms, and more tools in the hands of developers.

Tim Stevens Former editor at large for CNET Cars
Tim Stevens got his start writing professionally while still in school in the mid '90s, and since then has covered topics ranging from business process management to video game development to automotive technology.
Tim Stevens
2 min read

Apple unveils Swift 2 at WWDC 2015. Sarah Tew/CNET

SAN FRANCISCO -- At last year's Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple unveiled a new programming language called Swift. Basically, it was a new way for coders to put their creativity into motion. With the brevity of a language like Python, but the power of a language like Objective C, there was plenty of excitement.

But, of course, developers are a demanding bunch, and they wanted more. This year, Apple's giving it to them -- but, more importantly, Apple's giving them the keys to take care of themselves.

On Monday at WWDC in San Francisco, Apple introduced Swift 2, which features a suite of improvements to deliver better performance from the apps that developers write. The new version also includes a suite of important new improvements, like more comprehensive error handling and better warnings for such things as variable mutability. There are also some other niceties, like markdown in comments, letting developers show a bit more personality in their commentary.

However, the biggest news is that Apple is going to release Swift 2 to the open-source world. Yes, developers will be able to look under the hood of the programming language and, potentially, extend it. This should open the door for plenty of new developer tools of the sorts we can only dream of, but also means that we can and should see Swift applications running on non-Apple platforms.This could be a boon for the fledgling language -- or it could just be a talking point.

Only time will tell which will come true. Swift 2 will be released before the end of the year, while iOS 9 will be a public beta starting in July, meaning developers can get an early look then. Interestingly, Apple is also releasing developer tools for Linux, meaning writing apps for Apple platforms will no longer require owning an Apple platform.

See all of today's WWDC news.