Top 10 iOS Swift Libraries for 2024: Stay Ahead of the Game

Top 10 iOS Swift Libraries for 2024: Stay Ahead of the Game

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This is the most fertile time for mobile app development since the launch of the App Store.

Our industry is in the grip of several simultaneous revolutions, each of them bending, flexing and moulding to the others. 5G promises to make our apps 10 times faster; wearable technology lets them wrap themselves around our bodies; artificial intelligence enables them to learn from us and get smarter every day.

But this torrent of innovation brings challenges, too. As app developers, we need to stay up to date with all the latest libraries and tools—and this is particularly true of iOS, given the advances introduced on each new release of the Apple platform.

In this article, we’ll take a look at the essential iOS libraries every iOS developer needs to know right now. From UI frameworks to animation libraries, we’ll show you how to build a UX that will wow even the most cynical of users. All the libraries will help you to speed up you app development process.

First, here’s how to unleash the power of dependency managers

As a first step to use any iOS Swift library, you need to add it as a dependency, and dependency managers make the whole process effortless.

There are a number of different dependency managers for iOS that can help you to install Swift libraries and packages, and each has its own pros and cons. But the most popular, right now, are CocoaPods, Carthage and Swift Package Manager.

Cocapods

CocoaPods is a centralized dependency manager. In other words, it uses a centralized repository to manage libraries. This means that it’s easy to find and add libraries to your project, and you don’t need to worry about building and managing them yourself. Another nifty little bonus is that CocoaPods has a large community and loads of resources available, which is a major value-add in such a fluid, fast-moving environment.

Pros of using CocoaPods:

  • Large library of third-party dependencies.
  • Convenient dependency management.
  • Simple installation and setup.
  • Active community and regular updates.

Cons of using CocoaPods:

  • Potential for code bloat.
  • Lack of control over library updates.
  • Possible reliability issues.
  • Learning curve for creating custom pods.

Carthage

Carthage , on the other hand, uses the libraries’ source code and builds them locally. This allows you to use specific commits, branches, or versions of a library, with no centralized repository. This can be particularly useful if you want more creative control over the libraries you use and don’t want to rely on a central authority.

Pros of using Carthage:

  • Lightweight
  • Simplified integration
  • Greater flexibility
  • Supports Git

Cons of using Carthage:

  • Lack of automatic dependency resolution
  • Manual integration
  • No caching
  • Limited platform support

Swift Package Manager

Swift Package Manager (SPM) is a powerful tool developed by Apple, during the creation of Swift programming language, for managing the dependencies of Swift projects. It is designed to simplify the process of integrating external libraries and frameworks into Swift projects, making it easier for developers to create robust and scalable applications.

One of the key benefits of using Swift Package Manager is its integration with Xcode. Developers can easily add dependencies to their Xcode projects and have them automatically resolved by the package manager. This streamlines the development process and ensures that the project always has the correct versions of its dependencies.

Pros of using Swift Package Manager:

  • Easy to use: Simplifies dependency management in Swift projects.
  • Integrated with Xcode: Seamlessly integrated with Xcode IDE.
  • Cross-platform development support: Allows creating packages for iOS and macOS.
  • Versioning support: Facilitates package version management.
  • Dependency resolution: Automatically resolves and includes dependencies.

Cons of using Swift Package Manager:

  • Limited package availability: Smaller ecosystem compared to Cocoapods.
  • Less mature than other package managers.
  • Limited platform support: Primarily focuses on iOS and macOS.
  • Limited Objective-C support: Designed for Swift projects.
  • Lack of extensive community support.

Look at the top iOS Swift libraries you need to know about

Since Apple first sent Swift live in 2014, the number of open source libraries has increased at a seemingly exponential rate. From utility libraries that simplify tasks to UI libraries that energize your interfaces, there’s a specialist option for every developer.

Everyone will have their own favourite iOS library, depending on the apps they build and their own personal coding style. But here are 10 that we find particularly useful (in no particular order):

  1. Alamofire – a powerful networking library for iOS and macOS.
  2. SDWebImage – a library for downloading and caching images from the web.
  3. SwiftyJSON – a library for working with JSON data in Swift.
  4. MBProgressHUD – a library for displaying progress indicators and progress views.
  5. Charts – a library for creating beautiful charts and graphs on iOS.
  6. Realm – a mobile database for iOS and Android.
  7. Hero – A library to animate view controller transitions.
  8. RxSwift – a framework for functional reactive programming in iOS and macOS.
  9. Masonry – a library for creating and manipulating constraints in iOS and macOS.
  10. Lottie – an iOS library that allows developers to easily add animations to their app

And, as a lovely little bonus:

Bugfender – Remote Logger, Crash Reporter and In-App User Feedback

Ok, now let’s dive beneath the surface and get deeper into each one. We’ll also give you an alternative for each of our 10 nominees, so you’ve got plenty of options. But remember: this list is by no means exhaustive.


Almofire

https://github.com/Alamofire/Alamofire

Alamofire is an open-source library for iOS and macOS that simplifies the process of working with HTTP and HTTPS network requests.

It is built on top of Apple’s Foundation URL Loading System and provides a more convenient API for working with network requests. On top of those headline characteristics, it provides a bunch of additional features like chainable request/response methods, JSON parameter and response serialization, and authentication.

import Alamofire

Alamofire.request("https://api.example.com/getData").responseJSON { response in
    if let json = response.result.value {
        print("JSON: \(json)") // serialized json response
    }
}

One of the most distinctive, and compelling, features of Alamofire is the sheer number of people who use it. So while it might not be the ideal choice if you want to build niche code, it offers a vast breadth of documentation, with the guarantee of active maintenance and a large community that makes it easy to find examples, troubleshoot issues and generally get assistance with your queries. It’s also easy to integrate with other libraries and frameworks.

Alternative: AFNetworking (deprecated) https://github.com/AFNetworking/AFNetworking


SDWebImage

https://github.com/SDWebImage/SDWebImage

SDWebImage is an open-source library for iOS, macOS and watchOS that provides an easy way to asynchronously download and cache images from the web. If you’re working with remote images, it provides a straightforward API that includes support for placeholder images, caching, and image decompression.

import SDWebImage

imageView.sd_setImage(with: URL(string: "https://bugfender.com/image.png"), placeholderImage: UIImage(named: "placeholder.png"))

The library also supports animated images, WebP, and HEIC formats and provides a way to handle image downloads asynchronously and cache them, which can improve the performance of your app and provide a better user experience. It also provides a way to handle the common issues that arise when working with remote images, such as dealing with slow network connections, handling errors, and cache management.

Alternative: Kingfisher https://github.com/onevcat/Kingfisher


SwiftyJSON

https://github.com/SwiftyJSON/SwiftyJSON

SwiftyJSON is a library that takes the stress out of working with JSON data in Swift. It provides an easy-to-use API to access and manipulate JSON data, using JSON, and automatically handles the unwrapping of optional values.

import SwiftyJSON

let json = JSON(data: responseData)
let name = json["name"].stringValue

What really moves the needle on this swift library is the way it handles errors, such as missing keys, in a more efficient way than traditional JSON parsing libraries. It’s more convenient, simpler to read and more reliable.

Alternative: ObjectMapper https://github.com/tristanhimmelman/ObjectMapper


MBProgressHUD

https://github.com/jdg/MBProgressHUD

This open-source library provides an easy way to display a progress indicator (HUD) while a task is being executed in iOS.

import MBProgressHUD

MBProgressHUD.showAdded(to: self.view, animated: true)

// To hide it later
MBProgressHUD.hide(for: self.view, animated: true)

You get a simple, intuitive API to display and customize the HUD, and the library automatically takes care of placement and dismissal for you. It can also be used to display the progress of a task, such as downloading data, or to provide feedback to the user, such as a “Loading…” message.

One thing we really like here is how you can customize the look and feel of the HUD, such as the color and font, and add custom views to the HUD if you want to.

Alternative: JGProgressHUD https://github.com/JonasGessner/JGProgressHUD


Charts

https://github.com/danielgindi/Charts

If you want to create beautiful charts in iOS (for a financial app, for example), the rather simply-named Charts allows you to do so in a powerful, flexible way.

import Charts

let chartView = LineChartView()
var entries = [ChartDataEntry]()
for (index, value) in data.enumerated() {
    entries.append(ChartDataEntry(x: Double(index), y: value))
}
let dataSet = LineChartDataSet(entries: entries, label: "My Data")
chartView.data = LineChartData(dataSet: dataSet)

This open-source library is built on top of Core Graphics and its API allows you to create a veritably array of chart types, including line, bar, pie, scatter, and bubble charts. It also provides a way to customize the appearance of the charts using colors, labels, and animations.

Alternative: Core Plot https://github.com/core-plot/core-plot


Realm Swift

https://github.com/realm/realm-swift

Realm Swift is an open-source database for iOS and other platforms that is designed for easy, efficient data storage and retrieval.

import UIKit
import RealmSwift

// Dog model
class Dog: Object {
    @objc dynamic var name = ""
    @objc dynamic var age = 0
    let owners = LinkingObjects(fromType: Person.self, property: "dogs")
}

// Person model
class Person: Object {
    @objc dynamic var name = ""
    @objc dynamic var id = 0

    let dogs = List<Dog>()

    override static func primaryKey() -> String? {
        return "id"
    }
}

class ViewController: UIViewController {
    let realm = try! Realm()

    override func viewDidLoad() {
        super.viewDidLoad()

        // Create a Person and some Dogs
        let person = Person()
        person.name = "John Doe"
        person.id = 1

        let dog1 = Dog()
        dog1.name = "Fido"
        dog1.age = 3

        let dog2 = Dog()
        dog2.name = "Rex"
        dog2.age = 1

        // Write to Realm
        try! realm.write {
            realm.add(person)
            person.dogs.append(dog1)
            person.dogs.append(dog2)
        }

        // Query
        let savedPerson = realm.object(ofType: Person.self, forPrimaryKey: 1)
        if let dogs = savedPerson?.dogs {
            for dog in dogs {
                print("\(dog.name) is \(dog.age) years old and belongs to \(savedPerson!.name)")
            }
        }
    }
}

With this library, you get a simple, expressive API for working with data which supports full-text search, encryption and data synchronization. It’s also built for mobile which means is lightweight, and resource efficient on memory, disk space, and battery life.

And by using MongoDB Device Sync you can easily sync data between devices and the cloud in real-time.

Alternative: SQLite or Core Data


Hero

https://github.com/HeroTransitions/Hero

Hero is a popular iOS library that provides a simple yet powerful way to add custom transitions to your iOS apps. It’s designed to make implementing complex interactive and animated transitions as easy as possible. Hero extends the default iOS transition capabilities with a wide range of animation options and is compatible with both UIKit and SwiftUI.

ViewController1.swift

import Hero

class ViewController1: UIViewController {
    override func viewDidLoad() {
        super.viewDidLoad()
        // Enable hero on the current view controller
        self.hero.isEnabled = true

        // Set up a gesture recognizer or a button tap to trigger the transition
        let gestureRecognizer = UITapGestureRecognizer(target: self, action: #selector(self.handleTapGesture))
        self.view.addGestureRecognizer(gestureRecognizer)
    }

    @objc func handleTapGesture() {
        let viewController2 = ViewController2()
        // Assign a heroID to enable Hero animations
        viewController2.hero.modalAnimationType = .slide(direction: .left)
        self.present(viewController2, animated: true, completion: nil)
    }
}

ViewController2.swift

import Hero

class ViewController2: UIViewController {
    override func viewDidLoad() {
        super.viewDidLoad()
        // Enable hero on the current view controller
        self.hero.isEnabled = true
    }
}

Hero is particularly useful for creating visually appealing animations between view controllers, supporting a variety of gestures and interactive transitions. It allows developers to create sophisticated animations with minimal code, enhancing the user experience in their apps.

Alternative: Core Animation


RxSwift

https://github.com/ReactiveX/RxSwift

RxSwift is part of the ReactiveX family of frameworks, providing an implementation of reactive programming on Swift for iOS development. It allows you to work with asynchronous data streams in a declarative way, which can greatly simplify your code, especially when dealing with complex sequences of asynchronous operations.

import RxSwift
import RxCocoa

class ViewController: UIViewController {
    var disposeBag = DisposeBag()
    let textField = UITextField()
    let label = UILabel()

    override func viewDidLoad() {
        super.viewDidLoad()
        
        // Setup the UI elements here (textField, label)

        // Reactive Binding
        textField.rx.text
            .orEmpty
            .bind(to: label.rx.text)
            .disposed(by: disposeBag)
    }
}

RxSwift brings the observer pattern to Swift, enabling your code to react to changes in data and state in a highly flexible way. It’s particularly useful for handling user interface events, network responses, and other system events in a seamless and coordinated manner.

Alternative: Reactive Cocoa https://github.com/ReactiveCocoa/ReactiveCocoa


Masonry

https://github.com/SnapKit/Masonry

Masonry condenses the process of creating and maintaining Auto Layout constraints programmatically by providing a clear, fluid syntax.

import Masonry

view1.mas_makeConstraints { make in
    make?.top.equalTo()(view2.mas_bottom)?.with()?.offset()(10)
    make?.left.right().equalTo()(view2)
    make?.height.equalTo()(150)
}

The library is built on top of Apple’s Auto Layout engine and is based on a chainable, fluent API that allows you to create constraints in a natural way. It makes the process of creating complex layouts much simpler and easier to read.

Alternative: SnapKit https://github.com/SnapKit/SnapKit


Lottie

https://github.com/airbnb/lottie-ios

This cross-platform library allows developers to easily add animations to their apps. It uses the JSON format to describe animations, which makes it easy to create and edit animations using design tools such as Adobe After Effects and Sketch.

import Lottie

let animationView = AnimationView(name: "animationName")
animationView.frame = CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 400, height: 400)
animationView.contentMode = .scaleAspectFill
view.addSubview(animationView)
animationView.play()

Lottie also provides an easily accessible API for displaying animations and supports a wide range of animations, including vector graphics, shapes, and text. It also provides support for animations with transparent backgrounds, allowing developers to easily add animations to their apps without the need for extra work.

Alternative: The best alternative is to use is SDK: Spritekit https://developer.apple.com/documentation/spritekit and UIView.animate https://developer.apple.com/documentation/uikit/uiview/1622418-animate


Bugfender

Ok, it might not be the best-known library out there, but, well… we created it, so we’re including it (and, of course, it rocks).

Bugfender will help you to develop your app, as it will allow you to find and fix bugs faster than ever with our log storage and crash reporting service. Bugfender collects everything happening in the application, even if it doesn’t crash, in order to reproduce and resolve bugs more effectively and provide better customer support. And it’s rapid: you will have our SDK integrated in your app in less than 60 seconds.

Ok, that’s a wrap(p)

We’ve taken into the weeds and discussed various iOS development libraries and frameworks, laid out their main features and use cases, and given you alternative options. All of these libraries and frameworks are open-source, actively maintained and widely used by iOS developers, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs and the requirements of your project.

But remember: you should keep updating your knowledge base, because the possibilities are increasing all the time… and so are the potential competitors.

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