The Cupertino company looks to encourage students to learn its Swift programming language
Apple has released Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app that aims to teach children how to code using the Cupertino company’s Swift programming language.
Released at the same time as iOS 10, Swift Playgrounds has been designed to be an approachable way of introducing the Swift language to students with no prior programming experience. The app gives them a taste of the language’s key coding concepts, but Apple claims it is advanced enough for skilled programmers to experiment with Swift in more creative ways.
“Everyone should have the opportunity to learn coding, and we are excited to bring Swift Playgrounds to the next generation of programmers looking for a fun and easy way to explore key coding concepts using real code,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering.
“More than 100 schools around the world have already committed to adding Swift Playgrounds to their fall curriculum, and we can’t wait to see what students create with it.”
Rather than throw students into the deep end of coding, no matter how intuitive it is, Apple has created a series of programming lessons where students guide on-screen characters through a various challenges and puzzles using Swift commands.Through these lessons Apple said students will learn core coding concepts, like issuing commands, performing loops, creating functions and using conditional code and variables. Apple will also regularly release new challenges to advance the skills of students using Swift Playgrounds.
Modifiable templates are also on offer for students to have a foundation of Swift code upon which to build their own programs from. These can then be shared with their friends using the iOS Mail and Messages apps, or by posting the creations on the web.
Swift Playgrounds also uses real Swift code so Apple said projects can be exported to Xcode and potentially turned into fully-fledged iOS and Mac apps.
The release of Swift Playground could be seen as an effort by Apple to get more kids coding and narrow the potentially dangerous lack of digital and programming skills coming into the technology industry.
However, sceptics could argue that Swift Playgrounds channels children into coding on Apple’s programming language, meaning Apple surreptitiously gains access to the developers of the future who have been trained using its code. As such, there could be an argument that children should be encouraged to code on open source languages, tools and platforms.
Regardless of this counterpoint, Swift Playgrounds is available right now on the Apple App Store and is compatible with iPad Air, Pro and Mini 2 models running iOS 10.