Swift Playgrounds is an iPad-only app that helps kids learn Swift, which is a programming language made by Apple and used to create apps. The puzzles and challenges incorporate cute alien-like characters and a 3D world to teach kids (or adults) to code using Swift. Users work through all the lessons and challenges, which include "every concept and skill" required to write real apps, according to Apple.
The real meat of Swift Playgrounds right now is all in Lesson One, which takes the gamification approach to teaching. The right side of the app is a simple game in which a blobby alien named Byte trundles around an isometric 3D map collecting gems and activating switches. The left side is effectively the game’s “controller,” but instead of buttons or swipes you type in code. And while you can use Swift Playgrounds entirely with the keyboard if you want, Apple has done a lot to make coding less laborious on a touchscreen device.
Apple includes a series of tools to make referencing basic information and sharing your coding efforts relatively easy. There’s a glossary of terms available for when you need to look things up and options to record movies or (with the help of compatible third-party apps) broadcast live, which could be especially useful for remote classrooms or sharing one student or teacher’s efforts with the rest of the class.
And finally, while the app is designed primarily with younger users in mind, this isn’t something you’re going to want to plunk down in front of a kindergartner. Apple uses the actual lingo in all of its lessons and brief tutorial slideshows, and kids will need to have decent vocabulary and reading skills to follow along.
From the Developer
Swift Playgrounds is a revolutionary new app for iPad that makes it fun to learn and experiment with code. You solve interactive puzzles in the guided “Learn to Code” lessons to master the basics of coding, while additional challenges let you explore code and create programs that are engaging and unique.
Swift Playgrounds requires no coding knowledge, so it’s perfect for students just starting out, from twelve to one-hundred-and-twelve. The whole time you are learning Swift, a powerful programming language created by Apple and used by professionals to build many of today’s most popular apps. And because it’s built to take full advantage of iPad and the real iOS SDK, Swift Playgrounds is a first-of-its-kind learning experience.
• Apple-created lessons guide you through the core concepts of programming by using code to solve puzzles
• See your code run in a beautiful, interactive 3D world that you can rotate with a finger and pinch to zoom
• Animations introduce each new coding concept at a high level before you dive into the puzzles
• Choose from three animated characters to carry out the steps of your code
• Glossary covers a comprehensive list of common terms, or tap a word in the instructions for additional help
Explore and create
• Challenges encourage experimentation and creativity by playing with game logic, music, and various other themes
• New challenges are released regularly to keep improving your emerging coding skills
• Interactive coding shows the results of your code instantly, either beside the text or acted out in the live view
• Use your own photos, images, sounds, and files within a program to make it uniquely yours
• Templates are a head start to create your own programs that use graphs, graphics, touch, or a chat with the computer
• Create your own playgrounds from scratch to take your coding skills to entirely new places
• Reset any page to start over, or duplicate and rename any document to give a family member their own copy
Built for touch
• Quick Type suggestions for code are so smart you can write entire programs in just a few taps, no keyboard required
• Tap and hold to grab any command and move it around to change the order of your code
• Drag a brace with your finger to wrap a block of code inside a loop or conditional statement
• Drag and drop snippets of commonly-used code directly into your playground
• Tap a number or color in your code to display a pop-up in which to enter a new value or choose from a color picker
• Amazing new coding keyboard has all the common Swift characters, just swipe to pick the alternate symbol on any key
Real Swift and iOS code
• Learn the same powerful Swift programming language used by the pros to create thousands of apps in the App Store
• Access iOS frameworks such as SpriteKit for 2D games, SceneKit for 3D graphics, UIKit, and more
• Your code has direct control of iPad hardware such as the gyroscope, accelerometer, camera, and touch events
• Use Bluetooth APIs to write programs that control robots and other real-world devices with your iPad
• Every concept and skill you learn directly applies when writing real apps
• Send your creations to friends and family using Messages, Mail, AirDrop, or other Share Sheet extensions
• Record a video of yourself coding or running your creation, complete with your own voice narration
• Broadcast a coding session live to the world using any streaming service app that supports ReplayKit
• Homework hand-in with iTunes U makes it easy to bring coding into the classroom
• Turn on iCloud Drive to enable Xcode on your Mac to edit and extend the same documents that are on your iPad