Just over a year ago, ride-hailing app Lyft made a huge bet by rewriting its iPhone app entirely in Swift — the Apple-created programming language that’s taking the technology world by storm.
It was a big risk: Swift is still largely untested in real-world apps, having only been introduced in 2014.
Meanwhile, Objective-C, the language that most iPhone apps are written in, was invented in 1984, making it a very tried-and-true and familiar experience for many programmers.
But it was also a very calculated risk, explains Lyft CTO Chris Lambert. With Swift, Apple “signaled that this was the future” of iPhone-app development, Lambert says, and Lyft wanted to be ready for whatever came next.
“It turned out to be a really fortuitous move,” Lambert adds.
In the year since rewriting its iPhone app in Swift, Lambert says, it’s been able to add more features faster while simultaneously cutting down on the time it takes to open the app. The net result: More iPhone owners taking more Lyft rides, which is very good for business.
Still, Lambert says that he’s glad Lyft made the move when it did: Rewriting the app “is not a trivial effort,” he says, and the sooner they did it, the less code they’d have to reinvent in Swift from scratch.
In the meanwhile, Lambert admits Lyft runs into “rough edges” with Swift here and there, but Apple is working hard with the programming language’s community to make it better for everybody.
“Apple has been very, very responsive to getting the kinks worked out,” Lambert says.