I'm new to Obj-C, so my first question is:
What are the differences between
A strong reference (which you will use in most cases) means that you want to "own" the object you are referencing with this property/variable. The compiler will take care that any object that you assign to this property will not be destroyed as long as you point to it with a strong reference. Only once you set the property to
nil will the object get destroyed (unless one or more other objects also hold a strong reference to it).
In contrast, with a weak reference you signify that you don't want to have control over the object's lifetime. The object you are referencing weakly only lives on because at least one other object holds a strong reference to it. Once that is no longer the case, the object gets destroyed and your weak property will automatically get set to
nil. The most frequent use cases of weak references in iOS are:
delegate properties, which are often referenced weakly to avoid retain cycles, and
subviews/controls of a view controller's main view because those views are already strongly held by the main view.
atomic vs. nonatomic refers to the thread safety of the getter and setter methods that the compiler synthesizes for the property. atomic (the default) tells the compiler to make the accessor methods thread-safe (by adding a lock before an ivar is accessed) and nonatomic does the opposite. The advantage of nonatomic is slightly higher performance. On iOS, Apple uses nonatomic for almost all their properties so the general advice is for you to do the same.