Version number comparison – the right way

Version number comparison is often needed during app development. Whether you’re checking for an app upgrade, file/payload version or something else, you need a reliable way to see if two version numbers are the same, or one is greater or lower than the other. In software development version numbers are usually formatted as major.minor[.maintenance/fix]. Usually developers use the String compare API provided in the iOS SDK, and pass the numeric option of comparison. This is simple enough, but unfortunately, it will not always work.

The compare API works fine if you try to compare e.g. “1.0.1” and “1.0.3”, but the problems occur for comparisons of the same versions e.g. “1.0” and “1.0.0”. In this case you’d get that version 1.0 is lower than 1.0.0.

The right way to compare versions is to check each component of the version number with the implicit value 0 if the two versions are not of the same length. I created a Playground with this implementation. It also shows examples of different version comparisons and issues with the compare method.

You can find the Playground with these examples on my GitHub repo:

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