Apple's Swift is billed by the tech giant as a programming language that "lets everyone build amazing apps." Now, that may be true, but don't expect to dive into Swift coding today and write the next Candy Crush tomorrow. As with any language, spoken or coded, learning it takes both time and effort.
Help is at hand, though, with both free and commercial resources available online covering the language in depth. Whatever your ability, you'll find plenty here to advance your skills.
Before you get started, Swift 3.0.2 is available to download now here, and you can get it along with Xcode 8.2 and start learning the new language straight away.
You should be careful to check which version of Swift and Xcode your training materials are using, because there may be some variations. We have a guide to all the features new to Swift 3, so you have an idea what to expect if you've already used an earlier version of the language.
Then you'll want to start at the source with Apple's dedicated Swift documentation. You don't need a Developer account to access the files or to download Xcode from the Mac App Store, so you can get started right away.
The Developer documentation includes sample code, links to reference material and, most useful for anyone switching from another language, videos from the Swift 3.0 update at 2016's Worldwide Developers' Conference.
Download an ebook
Put your commute to good use by working your way though the free Swift Programming Language book from the iBooks Store.
It starts out at the most basic level, with every language course’s traditional ‘Hello, World’ jumping off point, before going on to explain the fundamentals like variables, arrays and conditions.
The opening tour will be enough for programmers with some existing experience elsewhere to familiarise themselves with the language, while the sections that follow go into more depth to give you all the mental tools you need to build your own apps. It’s packed with properly colour-hinted code, the index is comprehensive, and the final third is an end-to-end examination of the language grammar. Combined, they make up a first class ongoing reference tool.
Try an online course
The most popular Swift 3 course on web learning site Udemy is the iOS 10 & Swift 3: From Beginner to Paid Professional course by Mark Price. It has a rating of 4.5 stars with more than 41,000 students enrolled, and includes 264 lectures that total 71.5 hours.
There are other courses on Udemy worth checking out too if you're looking to learn Swift, including The Complete iOS 10 Developer Course - Build 21 Apps and the similarly named The Complete iOS 10 Developer - Create Real Apps in Swift 3.
If you need to get started with Swift as quickly as you can, check out lynda.com’s Swift 3 Essential Training: The Basics course.
Since being published, it's clocked up over 100,000 viewers and focuses on the elements of the language that you'll use most often. That means it's concise and to the point, running to just over 2 and a half hours.
Lynda.com charges between £12.95 a month and £18.95 per month depending on the level of service you want, and once you’ve paid you can access all of its courses, whatever the subject, alongside this series of Swift lessons. If you’re not sure whether you'd suit this kind of tutoring, try out a free preview account first.
If the lynda.com and Udemy courses are too expensive, check out Tutsplus, where you can buy courses for $9.
Subscribe to the University of Plymouth's Swift programming course through iTunes U and Associate Professor Nick Outram will teach you how to use the language in a series of practical videos that, rather than working through each function in turn, introduce them organically as they arise in the process of building real applications.
The lessons are fairly short and they're rarely presented as formal lectures, which helps to keep them engaging. Supporting written material is provided in the form of ebooks, and you can download the code used in the course from a Github repository linked through the course description on the iTunes Store.
Podcasts about Swift development
If all of this solo study is sending you stir crazy, sign up to a programming podcast. iDeveloper focuses entirely on iOS and OS X (now macOS) development, discussing tools and techniques, and offering tips and advice. If you're serious about making some money from your work, it also concerns itself with the business side of selling your apps.
The content is chatty and engaging, but can get technical at times, so if you find it going above your head, hang in there and assimilate as much as you can - at least you'll be getting familiar with terms and phrases used within the realm of programming.
You can preview individual episodes and read a synopsis of each one at the podcast homepage.
Write your first app
Once you've mastered the basics of Swift, the next step is to get some hands-on experience: it's time to actually try writing an app for yourself. Once you're ready, we've got a few guides to help you out.
First up, our guide to using the language runs through the fundamentals, along with some practical advice on writing apps in it. If you want to get more specific, we have separate guides to writing apps for iOS and for watchOS.
Finally, if you want to make sure you've got the right tools for the job, we have Mac buying advice specifically for developers, to help you get the best value Mac that has the power and features you need for app development.