Today at WWDC, Apple introduced Swift Playgrounds, a new iPad app to help kids and aspiring developers learn how to code in Swift right from the iPad. The idea is to empower new learners, and get them used to Swift Programming. Its targeted at kids. This game like app helps the kids with an understanding on why to code and then, how. Its definitely a huge step for new learners.
The Playgrounds helps you walk you through the exercise to learn the concepts of coding in Swift; it isn’t just code. 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 programs that can be shared with friends using Mail or Messages or even posted to the web.
During the keynote, the company demonstrated us walking a character around a wall, where you had to type moveForward() rather than tap a button or move using a keyboard arrow. One interesting demo was when the same character had to walk through the maze, you needed similar instructions to be repeated; and that’s when we saw how loops work. This is definitely an interesting way to learn/teach coding. As you learn coding concepts, Swift Playgrounds has advanced lessons you can work through. Working through sensors was pretty simple too. There was a demo on how few emojis use the sensor data such as gravity and gyroscope.
In addition to the lessons, Swift Playgrounds comes with a number of built-in templates. Students and developers can modify and build on this code to make it their own by adding graphics and touch interactions. Swift Playgrounds uses real Swift code, projects can be exported directly to Xcode to create programs for iOS and macOS™ that can ultimately be turned into full-fledged apps. You can also drag from a library of common coding snippets to create new, powerful code with little or no typing. Playgrounds also has a new keyboard specifically meant for coding. Stuffs like brackets and parentheses are easily accessible. Apple will regularly release new standalone challenges so students can continue to refine their coding abilities as their skills and interests grow.
Swift Playgrounds will really help make learning more accessible to many around the world. However, Its an iPad only app; so you may have to buy one before you even start learning. Playgrounds will be available with the developer preview today. This free app will be available for download for general public this fall.