Google may adopt the Swift programming language for Android, according to The Next Web.
That’s pretty crazy, considering Apple developed Swift for building iOS and Mac OS X apps. Or maybe it’s not, considering how Swift is now open-source, and Google has traditionally embraced openness as a pillar of its business.
As The Next Web pointed out, Google’s recent legal fight with Oracle over Java, currently considered the “first class” language for building Android apps, may have also persuaded the search-engine giant to explore Swift as an alternative.
Adapting Swift for Android would involve considerable engineering on Google’s part, but the company has more than enough smart engineers to rewrite the relevant APIs and libraries.
Facebook, Lyft, Vimeo, and other companies have already begun embracing Swift as a tool for building their respective iOS apps. Ever since Apple open-sourced Swift in December 2015, the language has featured contributions from a rising number of non-Apple contributors. Swift 2.2, the latest official version, includes some bug fixes and tweaks meant to speed to code; the next iteration, 3.0, is due sometime this fall, and will reportedly include major updates to the standard library and binary interface (ABI).
According to RedMonk, TIOBE, and other firms that monitor the popularity of various programming languages, Swift has rapidly cannibalized the market-share of its predecessor, Objective-C. If you’re interested in learning how to use Swift, check out Stanford’s free set of programming tutorials on iTunes, which will give you a sense of how the language works even if the lectures haven’t been updated for an operating system version beyond iOS 8.