Apple has announced Swift Playgrounds, its new iPad app that the company says will make it easier and fun for anyone who wants to learn to code.
Swift Playgrounds uses Apple's Swift coding, which is reportedly east to learn and is used by professional developers to create apps. The app uses iPad's Multi-Touch interface so typing, tapping and dragging are easy to manoevure.
Swift Playground uses the gamification process: students write code to guide onscreen characters through a digital world, solving puzzles and mastering challenges along the way. Students learn coding in a way that builds confidence and skill over time. Students learn functions such as issuing commands, creating functions, performing loops, and using conditional code and variables.
Apple says it will also release new standalone challenges to cater for users' growing skill sets. Educators and developers will have access to Xcode to create their own challenges for the Swift Playgrounds app.
There are also templates that allow users to create their own apps as they learn, which can be sent to friends or posted to the web. The templates are buildable and customisable, and apple says users can 'create a virtually unlimited variety' of apps using the Swift and iOS frameworks. The projects can be exported to Xcode for development into full apps.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, says the app is the only one that is easy enough for beginners and powerful enough to create real code. He believes it's a great way to empower future generations of coders.
“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,” says Jean MacDonald, founder of App Camp for Girls.
Swift Playgrounds is available to Apple Developer Program members as a preview release. It will be available as an iOS 10 public beta in July, with the full app ready for download this spring. The app will be compatible with all Apple tablet devices running iOS 10.