When Apple opened the App Store in 2008, it began a revolution that would lead to the largest and most vibrant mobile apps ecosystem in existence. It should then come as no surprise that Objective-C, the object-oriented coding language used by developers to build apps for iOS and OS X, has become the third most popular coding language, right behind Java and C itself.
The TIOBE index tracks the popularity of programming languages and updates its global findings each month. This month, TIOBE noticed that Objective-C has finally become more popular than C++. Objective-C and C++ have competed to become the “de facto object-oriented programming language.” Both languages use a very similar syntax and came out in the 1980s.
Apple chose Objective-C back in the day because it was already the language of NeXTSTEP, the desktop operating system pioneered by Steve Jobs and NeXT. When Apple bought NeXT, Objective-C became the backbone of OS X and iOS years later.
Java currently sits above Objective-C, and it’s unlikely that the two will switch places on the index anytime soon. Java is heavily used on the web and all kinds of other devices, including Google’s Android OS. But as you can see, Java is on the decline while Objective-C is growing fast. It’s only a matter of time.
Besides the popularity of the App Store, the success of Objective-C can also be attributed to how easy to is for wannabe developers to get their feet wet. All kinds of paid courses and even free resources like iTunes U exist to teach development for iOS. To start submitting apps to the App Store, developers need only download Xcode for free in the Mac App Store and setup a $99/year account with Apple to gain access to the Dev Center. After that, it’s only a matter of waiting with bated breath to see if Apple accepts or rejects your app.