A new iPad app called Swift Playgrounds is designed to teach anyone how to code in a way that's easy and fun to learn.
Using the app, students can learn Swift, which is the easy programming language that experts use to code Apple apps.
The app includes programming lessons designed like games in which users write code to help guide characters through a virtual world, solve puzzles, and complete challenges. It also features templates that allow users to create working, shareable programs.
The lessons teach important coding concepts like issuing commands, creating functions, performing loops, and using conditional code and variables. Apple plans to periodically release new challenges so that students' skills can continue to grow, reports the Apple Newsroom.
The templates allow students to change and add on to existing sample programs, in addition to adding graphics and touch-based interactivity. These projects can be exported to Xcode to create iOS and macOS programs that can eventually be turned into completely independent apps.
The program also features additions to make the coding process more convenient like a coding keyboard that includes common symbols in Swift, a context-based shortcut bar, a pop-up color selector, and a library of code snippets that can be added to programs with ease.
Nandagopal Rajan of the Indian Express quoted Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, who said:
Swift Playground is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code.
Jean Macdonald, the founder of App Camp for Girls, said:
The new Swift Playgrounds app from Apple is one of the most powerful, yet approachable, educational coding apps we've ever seen, and we can't wait to incorporate it into our upcoming camp curriculum. It's a fun and intuitive way for our students to learn the basic principles of coding using the iPad, and also become skilled in Swift, a language that can grow with them in whatever they choose to do.
Work on Swift Playgrounds was begun in 2014 by Stefan Mischook, reports Frederic Lardinois of Tech Crunch, after the announcement of Apple's Swift programming language.
Currently, a preview version of Swift Playgrounds is available to Apple Developer Program members only, according to Sara Barker of Educators. In July a public beta will begin and the final version will be accessible from the App Store for free beginning in the fall.
The app is compatible with iPad Air, iPad Pro, iPad mini 2, and any device that will run the as-yet-unreleased iOS 10.
Swift Playgrounds is by no means unique: many start-ups are focusing on teaching kids how to code, as it's becoming more and more of an essential job skill. According to Ben Popper of the Verge, Swift has the advantage of being released by a major tech company, and teaching the language that all of its app developers are using, giving students a practical head start on working with Apple products.