New iPad app teaches coding concepts and encourages creative experimentation
Apple has introduced Swift Playgrounds, an new app for iPad that makes learning to code fun and easy for anyone.
Swift Playgrounds brings coding to life with an interactive interface that encourages students and beginners to explore working with Swift, the easy to learn programming language from Apple used by professional developers to create world-class apps.
Swift Playgrounds includes Apple-developed programming lessons where students write code to guide onscreen characters through an immersive graphical world, solving puzzles and mastering challenges as they learn core coding concepts. The app also features built-in templates to encourage users to express their creativity and create real programmes that can be shared with friends using Mail or Messages or even posted to the web.
“I wish Swift Playgrounds was around when I was first learning to code,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering. “Swift Playgrounds is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code. It’s an innovative way to bring real coding concepts to life and empower the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity.”
Added Jean MacDonald, founder of App Camp for Girls: “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.”
The library of Apple-developed programming lessons helps students learn core coding concepts, such as issuing commands, creating functions, performing loops and using conditional code and variables, and allows them to progressively build confidence and skill.
Apple will regularly release new standalone challenges so students can continue to refine their coding abilities as their skills and interests grow. Educators and developers can also use Xcode to create their own unique challenges for the app.
In addition to the lessons, Swift Playgrounds comes with a number of built-in templates to help aspiring developers express their creativity. Students and developers can modify and build on this code to make it their own by adding graphics and touch interactions.
Swift Playgrounds allows you to create a virtually unlimited variety of interactive programmes using Swift and the iOS frameworks. You can create empty playground documents or start from one of the built-in templates with scaffolding for graphics and user interface to build powerful apps that respond to touch and accelerometer or that control Bluetooth devices. Since Swift Playgrounds uses real Swift code, projects can be exported directly to Xcode to create programmes for iOS and macOS that can ultimately be turned into fully fledged apps.
Because Swift Playgrounds was designed from the ground up for the Multi-Touch iPad interface, users can create entire programmes with only a few taps. A new coding keyboard lets users quickly type additional characters common to Swift programming by swiping across the key, while a shortcut bar presents the most likely next commands or values based on context.
Using a pop-over keypad, users can simply tap to edit a number in place, touch a colour value to display a colour picker, and even drag the boundaries of a loop or function definition to wrap around existing code. They can also drag from a library of common coding snippets to create new, powerful code with little or no typing.
A preview release of Swift Playgrounds is available now to Apple Developer Programme members as part of the iOS 10 developer preview and will be available with the iOS 10 public beta in July.
The final version of Swift Playgrounds will be available in the App Store for free this autumn.
Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10.