Well, here’s an unusual move: Apple hit the virtual streets Friday to tout Swift, its new programming language for developers, via a brand-new, dedicated blog.
For the historically stand-offish—some would say arrogant—iPhone and Mac maker, this sort of developer outreach is unusual. Although the company has dedicated sections and webpages about various aspects of its software and hardware lines, they tend to be opaque holding tanks for official pronouncements and downloads.
Now Apple seems to be going out of its way to appeal to developers in historically unthinkable ways. The Swift blog, hosted on Apple’s own website, offers a more open and friendly approach, pledging to give app builders an inside look at Swift development. It also carries through Apple’s overarching theme about the language’s ease of use for creating mobile iOS and desktop OS X apps.
This new blog will bring you a behind-the-scenes look into the design of the Swift language by the engineers who created it, in addition to the latest news and hints to turn you into a productive Swift programmer.
Get started with Swift by downloading Xcode 6 beta, now available to all Registered Apple Developers for free. The Swift Resources tab has a ton of great links to videos, documentation, books, and sample code to help you become one of the world’s first Swift experts. There’s never been a better time to get coding!
There’s no telling how things could evolve from here. So far, there’s only one blog post talking about Swift’s stability across “past, present, and future OS releases.” But it’s easy to imagine it becoming a stepping stone on the way to more two-way conversations with the company. At least it’s easy to imagine now. A few years ago, it would have been inconceivable.
The Wall Street Journal recently noted how Apple has softened under Tim Cook’s reign. The CEO’s warmer, fuzzier leadership style—which emphasizes teamwork and collaboration—stands in stark contrast to that of Steve Jobs, the cofounder known for dictatorial management and an uncompromising personality.
Certainly a funner, and funnier, Apple seemed to be on display at its Worldwide Developers Conference in June, where Apple executive Craig Federighi threw devil horns when talking about a new feature called “Metal” and Cook teasingly called his colleague “Superman” for his ability to fly on and off the stage for presentation after presentation.
That lent some credence to the notion of a more laid-back Apple. The new Swift blog adds even more, as Cook’s internal openness looks like it’s finally filtering outside to Apple’s army of independent software builders.
But it’s very likely that the blog is more than just a nice gesture put forth by a repentant tech company. If Apple wants a Swift transition from the older, clunkier languages used to stock the App Store’s shelves, it needs to rally developers.
And the best way to do that is to give this community—which is used to (some say tired of) being left out of the loop on iPhone and OS X plans—what they’ve wanted all these years: the iron fist of Apple to loosen into an open hand.
At least, that’s what some developers believe.
This is not just about Swift, more like APPLE HAS A BLOG. https://t.co/kIPQ2puOhK
— Peter Steinberger (@steipete) July 11, 2014
Apple engineers… talking publicly about their work? *looks suspiciously for marketing or legal people with nets*https://t.co/7F3xS6ewUd
— David Smith (@Catfish_Man) July 11, 2014