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Microsoft also working on a Swift compiler for iOS developers to come to Windows 10

One of the big news stories to come out of Build 2015 was the Objective C tools that Microsoft is introducing to welcome iOS developers to Windows 10. This is amazing news, but there's a small elephant in the room, and that's Swift. Apple announced this at its WWDC 2014 developer conference, and is the newest way that iOS developers are building apps. But that doesn't mean Microsoft has forgotten about it. It's "going there."

The question was raised during the Q&A portion of one of Microsoft's Build sessions dedicated to Objective C. An iOS developer asked about Swift, since a lot of them are now starting to use this to build their apps for iPhone and iPad. The response was clear. Microsoft is going there, but one day at a time.

So this isn't some flash in the pan. Microsoft looks like its going to keep pushing at this and ensure the latest tools are available to enable developers to embrace Windows 10, whatever their preference. Check out the full session in the video below. The Swift information is around the 57:30 mark.

Thanks Martin for the tip!

Richard Devine is an Editor at Windows Central. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently you'll find him covering all manner of PC hardware and gaming, and you can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.

131 Comments
  • Good.
  • They'll eventually need to work on DART for Android as well. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Yep
  • Dalvik Android Run Time? But aren't Dalvik and ART two separate things?
  • Yeah - but they definitely need ART support. That's the android future. For now.
  • I don't believe ART changes the development process for Android apps, since they can work on Dalvik or ART. AFAIK it just changes how the apps are executed.
      Edit: Oops, should have re-read that before commenting. DART meaning the non-java way to write Android apps. Yeah, I dunno... I feel like it's less crucial than Swift. But they should keep on top of the situation as it develops.
  • No. DART is a completely different programming language being developed by Google, the main aim is performance as high as 120 HZ. Example: https://youtu.be/PnIWl33YMwA 
  • Dart is not the future of Android. It was meant to replace JavaScript not Java. But actually Google already stopped development on Dart. ART and Dalvik are the runtime containers used for Android and do not influence the development stage.
  • DART is still being actively developed and helmed by Google. It isn't (and was never) meant to replace Javascript, as it compiles directly to Javascript. Certain Android teams have expressed an interest in building full DART stacks for both Android and iOS, allowing for developers to use DART to make native apps, but there have never been any solid promises that it was coming.
  • You got confused.... Runtime and compiler are two different things but connected to each other. Compiler: When you write a code, it is based on certain agreements that you will use some syntax to get some work done. So when you compile the code it will link all different parts of code and how much resources should be allocated , everything it will link up to run in a particular environment.   Runtime: It will provide an environment to  the executable file to execute which was compiled by a suitable compiler.   So Dart is a runtime and the android sdk which google provides compiles your code suitable for ART runtime or Dalvik runtime. Now what microsoft intelligently did is they made their own compiler which will take the android source code and compile it into an executable which will run in universal windows platform(or environment) .
  • So..again MS trying to catch up. Please don't take two years to get those tools.
  • Playing catch up to what? Adding a compiler for what is possibly the worst language since some of those developed back in the '60s? Or a language that was recently announced? Apple restricts you to two languages, and if you use something else then they refuse to take your app. Microsoft, on the other hand, has a rich history of programming languages dating back from their start - it is how they got started. Their languages cover everything from low-level languages such as C/C++, to modern languages such as C#, to functional languages like F#, the beginner languages like VB, and scripting languages such as JavaScript and Python. They have had compilers for dead languages that they never support, fortran, ASM, and Pascal. From what I have seen, Swift is not that great of a language, take JavaScript add in some of the bad parts of Obj-C, and you have typical Apple, marketing junk as something beautiful. Apple has a long, long, way to go before they have earned their developer language big boy pants.  
  • What a dumb comment. Some people can't be pleased. The only way Microsoft could have responded quicker was to know before Apple about the existence of Swift. People just look for negative things to say, even when they make no sense.
  • playing catch up? this is pretty innovative, and it's a game changer, not just for MS but the computing industry in genereal. go take a nap. you seem a little cranky. crankiness can make you irrational.
  • Uh? Pardon? iOS has a much larger app store selection than Google Play as far as I know...
  • Marketshare is not the metric they are concerned with in this case. Microsoft wants the devs, and the best devs are iOS first. The best Google Play gets is simultaneous release apps with iOS, but there are many times when iOS gets apps before Android. The quality of apps is also better on iOS, with a lot of Android apps being ports of iOS apps. Since a lot of these devs do both iOS and Android apps, it only makes sense to target the most important devs.
  • With the relationship microsoft currently have with google as we know, I think this is a good move. And this is not about marketshare I believe (regarding to @Hemlocke reply) as it doesn't really have strong correlation to good app/dev which also potrayed in both Appstore and Windows store (I do think both have better quality apps than Google Playstore). If we're talking about number of apps, then sure Playstore win a big margin to Windows store here. But in term of quality, I believe Microsoft store is still a better place.
  • I don't think it has anything to do with market share.. They will target store that has highest apps.. And its iOS always in terms of number as well as quality.... This was kinda one of the last set of plans to get apps.. As it has always been focus to get native apps first! I m happy they got a good way out without using any virtual machine or middleware and got play store on board... (although ppl r still criticizing it...) So such a effort in early days of WP was like giving up.. Plus requires lot of design changes... Like what we have seen in current builds to give a consistent exp.. MS previously also tried making app development easier with providing many flexible tools... But it failed to lure developers... Hope this works!
  • Hey @wpkevein I believe that Microsoft has developed the porting application that will bring Objective-C based iOS apps to Windows 10. Though it wont be ready at the release of Windows 10, it is the porting tool that would bring the bulk of iOS apps(if used by developers) to Windows 10. Swift was just released at Apples 2014 WWDC, and though more iOS developers have begun to use it, the vast majority of the 1 million plus iOS apps have been written using Objective-C. I think Microsoft was wise in creating a tool to help developers with Objective-C based apps in the App store move those over to Windows 10 first, while they continue to work on the tool that will help developers bring the Swift based apps over. The fact that any of this is even happening is amazing. Developers are being given the red carpet to develop for our beloved platform.:-)
  • I wonder what the new Processor is they mention at 27 minutes?!
  • x128
  • Cool! I actually tweeted (@JLTechWord) on 4/29:
    in response to Microsoft's Objective- C compiler announcement:
    "@Microsoft makes porting Objective-C iOS apps easy in Win10. Apple will be 'swift' to push devs to use it's homegrown SWIFT programming language"
    I'm glad to see that Microsoft has that covered!:-)
  • Hey Jason i really like your editorials. :D
  • @K_Arora5 Thanks so much for that. I appreciate the support. I'm really glad to be part of the Windows Central team and community!:-)
  • @Jason
    Your recent contributions are first class.
    Really enjoyed your thoughtful articles.
    Good luck!!!
  • @ia_wan Thanks! That's encouraging. I'm part of a great team that's really helping me to hone my craft. :-) I'm grateful for the privilege to add to the diversity of great content here at Windows Central! We writers here at WC are extremely fortunate to be able to provide content for such an engaged and committed audience. I don't take that for granted. You guys keep coming and we'll keep giving you the best content. Spread the word - Windows Central is the best place for all Microsoft news, reviews, editorials, how-to's and more!
  • Wow
  • Wow, looks like the dormant beast is ready to rise again. After build this week, I have new belief in the windows platform(not that it dwindled before)
  • Sounds good. I'm sure MS have everything in hand. Objective C definitely the priority.
  • Lots of existing apps were built with Obj C. It's important that they're aware of the shift though.
  • Oh definitely. This seems to imply they're very aware if it. Exciting times.
  • Yup! I feel rather reassured by this news. This is definitely the way forward. A lot of devs I'm familiar with target iOS first and worry about Android porting after the fact. I'd rather have an iOS port than a port of a port...
  • @Richard Devine Swift*.
  • "its important that they're aware of the swift though" doesn't make any sense...
  • No, shift. The shift to swift. I know what I wrote ;-)
  • I like how Microsoft is using the power of software to counter all their problems with the lack of interested developers
  • Agreed!
  • MS is very serious about iOS developers......
  • This is about getting ios developers to develop for windows much easier than before
  • We want Kik Messenger
  • Out of all those apps, thought of this as the most important?
    We need each and every app to be on Windows (no phone now).
  • It still is Phone until Win10 releases and I'll keep calling it that anyway. When you are referring specifically to the phone, are you really going to type "Windows 10 for Mobile Devices" everytime? I'll probably just stop capitalizing the "P".
  • You do what you want and I'll do what I want?
    Will that work for you?
    Or do you want me to do something else? If I want to type "Windows 10 for Mobile Devices", I will because its my keyboard and my hand and my time.
  • We have it. It just hasn't been updated for an age.
  • They've dropped support for WP I guess..
  • No need to guess. Support ended in 2012.
  • Don't we have Kik Messenger already??? http://www.windowsphone.com/s?appid=432c8fec-569c-e011-986b-78e7d1fa76f8
  • We do, but the developer has stopped supporting windows
  • Oh, yes! The current WP version is B.S. But what's more funny is the reason it's CEO stated to not support WP, which is "it does not support Webkit" A B.S engine which is used by Kik cards to render a bunch of crappy HTML games. Since when is a proprietary rendering engine standard? Just W.T.F?
  • We = you. Stop trying to speak for this collective we.
  • Cool cool cool. iOS ports over android ports anyday. Go iPhone developers. Embrace us windows users with your lovely apps. Prove that you people are as good as native windows developers.
  • In before someone says Snapchat...
  • Oh Snap.. (Pun intended)
  • Well just wondering if asshole companies like Snapchat or Pebble for example are going  to embrace the Windows 10 Universal App Platform when they see the Windows STore user base increasing exponentially. You can ignore the 2.5/5% (+/- 75/95 million people stil ridiculous to ignore, its like refusing the entire nation of Germany to buy your... just placing things in perspective) smartphone users out there on the Windows Phone platform and get away with it. But its a bigger pil to swallow when your ignoring over 90% of the worlds PC users. With Windows 10 spanning over different devices and different user interfaces but with Microsoft making it as easy as possible to reach all those users with one App and still being able to produce a tailor user experience on each device it was already super attractive to embrace Windows 10 from out of a purely financial perspective. But having the possibility to use your earlier work on other platforms to create a Universal Windows 10 App takes away all boundaries and if you're a major app developer who's working on iOS and Android your just one big douchebag if you're ignoring all the Windows 10 users!  
  • Snapchat focus isn't on PCs....
  • Hahaha, what a deluded trolling comment you made. Snap chat is not as important as you paint it to be. Sure, it's used by an important demographic, but two things. First, not everyone uses it. Second, sending pictures insecurely over the internet is not what determines what that demographic will ask for the future.
  • For a much needed flagship Best specs for me would be:
    5 inch screen full HD (you just won't notice the difference in day to day use, only by comparing side by side besides it would save battery)
    40 or + mp (resembling 1020) with xenon and 2/3 led flash (for video) and 4k video of course
    4 ram (to ensure it is fast to capture videos, photos and even open and process them, for continuum, to remain, in the top smartphones for a long time (in all platforms besides windows that I want to keep upgrading) and just because it would be something to grab about)
    snapdragon 810 or better/newer
    13 mp front facing camera with xenon flash (selfies are incresingly common)
    64 GB internal memory (c'mon, it's time to upgrade)
    7000 mAh removable battery (wouldn't it be great to have a smartphone whose baterry last for 2/3 days?)
    SD micro card slot up to 128 GB
    Dual sim LTE
    Surface stylus (wouldn't it be great?) and design (more like the gold 930)
    Those figures would be appreciated by people who only care about numbers, they would stand out and be a big hit on the media, and with windows 10 and some special features like having your iris be a password it would be a winner!! No doubts!
    (I realize its virtually impossible to come one like this in the near future but here it comes my proposal. If it came it would cost... maybe your house)
  • oh boy...you're such a dreamer.... how come you fit all that in a 5" body? only the 7000mAh i think it's bigger than 5" already. xenon and 13mp sensor on front shooter? what for?
  • Oh it would fit. But the phone would be the thickest phone on the market ever and therefore would be ignored by everyone.
  • Guy! We need something very epic in design like the iPhone 5s. I need a light,thin and epic phone.
  • The iPhone 5s is not epic. I had 4. Far from epic. Or reliable.
  • Lol the iPhone 5's design was garbage.
  • Front facing xenon flash lol... For the most unflattering selfies in the world?
  • It's not that its impossible to make a full blown high end phone. MS has just written off their phone division so they might want to tread according to the norm than going overboard. Second, having a xenon flash for the FFC is just suicide for your eyes. Even dual LEDs are potentially blinding.
  • Did you comment on the wrong article?
  • *sarcasm on* since it don't has a sd micro slot for up to 2 TB i won't buy it *sarcasm off*
  • 3 GB RAM is enough, and 7k mAh battery, seriously? 3000-3500 is enough.
  • I was only expeculating! They wouldn't make a Phone like that since it would be thick and heavy... I was only trying to make a point. For example, having a battery that could last for 2 days would be awesome. And with wireless charging... They only need to stand out as the Best smartphone ever without even having to do comparisons. Period. It would be good to say its good by itself and not compared to others. If they blew people's expectations + win 10 who cares about apple and samsung?! Microsoft rocks and it has to make people to notice at last of wp
  • Speculation has to be anchored in reality. This is stupid laundry list is not even close to that. I agree with the thought that this is completely out of place.
  • oh please. This is a dev article, give us a break from this  whiny flagship boredom.
  • Perfect move Microsoft! You do not care about your own C#, you do not give a crap about wp developers! You do not giving anything new in advantage for them. You abandoned them long time ago!
    Thank you, but you think dev from,other platform will come to you?! Are you serisouly? We will see it. No one cares about WP because you do not care about it at all. If you guyz think this is good move you are wrong. Microsoft do not want us, developers dedicated to MS, to be better. And this is not first time they did stupid move. Its actually 3rd one at leats.
  • Course Microsoft doesn't care about you. Only making it easy for you to make apps for phone, tablet, desktop, Xbox and Hololens. This isn't fairy tale land. Microsoft needs to attract more developers. This is a great way to do that.
  • Stupid post of the day goes to you
  • I do not care what you say unless you are a develper for MS for last 10 and more years!
  • So what, you don't want the ecosystem to grow. Because that's how you sound.
  • That is a clear way of saying that you don't wanna have a discussion. MS not making their platform easier to develop for IOS, Android developers will make their ecosystem irrelevant. For everyone of you, WP developers, there is a lot of other mobile developers. Also, MS is fantastic at providing tools. Neither one of those outside developers is ready to exploit continuum like you do. Why don't you wait for the W10 SDK before getting all flustered.
  • I have been a professional developer on Microsoft platforms for nearly 20 years. And I agree with him, yours gets the stupid post of the day award (actually, runner up - see my reply to the winner of that award above). Microsoft is not ignoring C# or any of their other languages, they are simply adding support for other ones.
  • Ray, c'mon man. You made one of the first file managers when we didn't have one. Please look on the positive side. I'm sure they are making it obvious that native devs are of importance. Remember ultimately you know more about C# than the others do. You already have an inherent advantage. Expecting a lot more apps from you. Cheers!!
  • You may be right. I am just tired that MS is making same mistakes all over again. Instead of putting all touse money into WP ecosystem, into developing tools, they spent them on making better live for ios and android developers.
    Just imagine what could do such amount of money for WP!
  • May be its apparent that way coz //build/ has been an advertising event for courting other platform developers hence the seemingly apparent decrease in importance for WP tools. But if those iOS/ Android compilers are working, isn't it that MS has actually invested money to make them work? Add to that the universality in apps. I'm sure that would not have been an easy one to pull off. They have given you the flexibility to write once and spread everywhere. It sure seems like a lot of work and investment to me.
  • More developers more user base, more user base more people to catch your apps, so, you should be happy this is going on, keep doing a great job with native and amazing apps and your pocket will be glad!
  • Your comment surprises me.
    Tell me, if the WP user base increases by 200-300% over the next 18 months thanks to exponentially increasing app availability, have you been 'neglected' or have you gained far more for your investment over the years??
    I say MS is proving that they believe in growing the platform by wooing DEVELOPERS, because you guys are the backbone of any ecosystem that thrives.
    In the end, you are all developers, and you are the ones that will make or break WP - the coding language is just that: a language. This is your chance to prove that you are as good or better than any iOS or Android developer, by getting the opportunity to showcase your work to far more people than you have previously.
    Do not allow your perception of increased 'competition' cloud your judgment, this is a huge opportunity for existing WP developers that might otherwise have remained niche developers!
  • Couldn't agree more.
  • Well said
  • Congrats, most retarded post ever. You are clearly not a dev, if that is how you "see" the world. As in reality (and from watching this video for example) MS have done some incredible work. Did you not watch the video and see how the code generator secures code? (including C#) How their work gears up for a new processor? Have you seen how C# has added new abilities like Lambda and Linq in each major upgrade of C# Honestly mate, everyone is free to post. But this nonsensical point of view is just a ridicuos thing to post.  
  • You're probably one of the people constantly complaining about the "app gap" and how MS isn't doing anything about it.
  • Of course, 'cause better XAML perfomance on 10 they don't care.Universal Apps even to hololens, they don't care. .NET Native to C#, they don't care. Course.
  • is it 100% possible to port all ios apps to win 10 store through swift program
  • Its not easy as in easy but sure is possible now if there is willingness.
  • Everything from build has been really positive, its made clear its business intentions, direction and it's commitment to mobile, services, developers and it's customers.
    Looking forward to windows 10 and some really cool stuff.
  • +920
  • +10
  • Wow. Just wow Microsoft. I have no idea what they could do more for closing the appgap. Looking forward to seeing new and great apps :)
  • Sell their phones everywhere at a quick pace and tons of advertising.
  • Need the apps first. The last thing we want is massive growth with no app support. People will leave and never come back due to their lackluster experience. Apps and users will need to grow together.
  • I agree,
  • By the way what can we expect from ignite?
  • Super ^_^
  • I think Microsoft has done the best it can do to attract developers.. If even after this they don't come, I bet someone is bribing them not to.. Conceptwise windows phone 10 is the best OS that one can get.. I can't understand how anyone can miss that. I have been using Lumia 520 for 2 years n I am tired f telling ppl not to judge anything without using it..
  • ....Or developers have free will and choose not to? Not everything is a conspiracy. I swear, Windows phone users have this extravagant persecution complex.
  • May be coz we've been 'persecuted' by devs who give a damn?
  • We are counting on the ever present desire of human beings to make more money - otherwise known as the profit motive :-)
    In the end, this is the main pitch of MS: As a developer, are you willing to do a little extra work for maybe a few days and access millions of people that never saw your work previously? Let each developer answer this for himself. I am betting that the average dev would give it a try, who doesn't want some extra cash???
  • Not everything, but some things. I swear some trolls have this "no one ever does anything evil" delusion.
  • Yep. From here, its clearly the devs to be blamed if they don't come over. No one will offer such a great toolset for porting apps. Lets see how it pans out.
  • Note none of these android or ios compilers will launch when w10 is launched , so we won't see anything till end of year
  • I really hope they make a free Xamarin alternative as well.
  • This makes me wonder what Apple would have up its sleeve during WWDC this year. Will it be as groundbreaking as Build or just a marketing hogwash? Either way, there is a possibility all the positives of Build will wane by then. Then we'll be back to square one. Lol.
  • I think when it comes to software and tools, MS is almost impossible to beat - it has always been their greatest strength. The amazing tools announced at Build have probably been in the works for many years - as well as the unification of the windows platform. I would be utterly surprised if Apple has any amount of work remotely close to this in the background.
  • Yeeeesssssss
  • Ajouter l'application gmail et Google Chrome
  • That was a great news I am so happy please Harry join the Windows 10 WwwwwHooooooooo...
  • I just thinked why ms didnt make it easy to port apps to droid and iDiots. Now noone wiuld develop from wp because its easier to develop from android or iDiot and then port to wp
  • Whether you like it or not, iOS and Android development presents real revenue opportunities right now that Windows cannot come close to. Calling them names doesn't change that. Wouldn't you want to earn as much money in your profession as you could?
  • You do realize that we won't be running the exact same .ipa and .apk on WP. It's just the code (with w10 extensions) to make it a universal app. That means the devs can implement live tiles, UI changes etc. I don't see the reason why any dev wouldn't wanna write for W10 since 1 app = all the devices powered by W10. That's fantastic in my opinion. You are here to praise MS regardless of whatever the it does; whether you like it or not.
  • Let me remind you of continuum. Developers that take advantage of universal apps, whatever they are called these days, will see their apps become more popular.
  • Actually what I said about "bribing" was infact a joke (without the emoticons ;-)).. So don't take everything so seriously.. N for ur comment about WP users, I would say that Android and IOS users have this big obsession of coming to windows sites and attacking windows phone.. I have used all these 3 n I like all f them. IOS is "beautiful", android is "powerful" and windows is "smart".. That's all I have to say.
  • Wpkevin, u are an idiot!!! How can u call yourself wpkevin when u are always bashing Microsoft!! In almost all the articles posted u make stupid comments!!! Change your name to (ios-Kevin) or (android-Kevin) and get out of windows central monkey-butt troll!!!
  • Surely a cross platform app would maximise earning? Build for all 3 OS
  • Apple couldn't even stop this if they wanted to, because they would have an anti trust slapped on them!
  • I love Swift. It's seriously awesome. Never stumbled upon any kind of mistakes when writing code. I still think they should've only gone for iOS since Android is basically a pile of retarted B.S.
  • Q&A is always the best part of build. As long as you don't have to run to a popular session immediately after :/ Glad they are putting it into videos.
  • Now time to start advertising your phones and have every carrier have the latest and greatest!
  • Everything works better on ios anyway. Headed to buy an iPhone with 64gb now. May return to Windows in 2yrs. Hopefully the platform won't be dead! So long Windows fans #1520.
  • Ah, trolls never change.
  • No trolling here brother. Truth of the matter is after five years of the same wait till the next OS change to be better, I've opted to go to a more established platform. You guys kill me with that troll BS!
  • Are universal apps fully universal? Build keynote demos were android apps compiled for phones and ios apps compiled for big windows. Just thinking..
  • I think android apps are phone only initially. I might be wrong. But Android doesn't have many good tablet apps anyway. You'd want those from the iPad.
  • The Universal Windows Platform is Universal in the fact that they all use the same deployment package (appx), update system (store), and can access the same Universal Windows API's (like IAP, Notifications, Live Tiles, App Contracts, ect.)The difference is in what platforms it targets. Project Centennial (Classic Win32/.NET) can only target the desktop device family because they can still call non UWP API's as trusted code, but can still call the new API's from that code which will run in a UWP container. Over time this will allow it to become a fully compatible UWP app as the older code is slowly replaced. Project Islandwood (iOS apps in Objective-C) is imported into a VS2015 solution. This is a first class language (although not all iOS API's are mapped) that is compiled into fully compatible UWP packages. These apps can target all Win10 device families exactly like C# code (in fact, the VS compiler lets you call functions written in one language from code files written in another so some of these projects may end up a mix of Objective C and C# files depending on the calls). Project Astoria (Android) is the oddest of the bridges. It is mostly run-time work not compile-time (hence not requiring import into VS). You can add most windows API calls using Java versions of the API's and class libraries (which at compile can be ignored and excluded from compiling to Android) - this is also where references to the Google Play services are removed. The resulting apk will be uploaded as is to the store. The store will create the manifest, store assets, and add it to a appx package for deployment. At runtime, the "Android Layer" running above kernel intercepts many system calls and redirects them to native functionality (share picker, keyboard, copy/paste, camera, ect.) and displays permission dialogs as appropriate. This currently only supports the mobile device family. The odd part is it is not a full android VM like Blackberry, but not a full remapping like Islandwood - we will just have to see how performance is when launched.
  • Best IDE ever Visual Studio is Stunning!  
  • Want to develop every kind of software, web application mobile apps using Visual Studio and want to deploy at every platform from windows. Language may C++ or C#. When the day will come? If any other company provide that I will switch into that platform. And that is why I like Unity for game development. 
  • Interested people can download swift compiler binary from here https://github.com/tinysun212/swift-windows-bin and can compile swift code on windows 10 64bit OS