Are You Taking Advantage of Apple’s Fun (and Free) Learn-to-Code App?

Swift Playground Robots Education Programming Ipad Credit: James Martin / CNET
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Apple has long been dedicated to education – in May of 2018, Apple even held an event focused specifically on education. There, the company announced an affordable iPad that was geared toward the education market. With its low price point and excellent quality, it’s been a great success for the company and for consumers.

However, one of the best things Apple has offered to education is its iPad exclusive app called Swift Playgrounds.

Swift Playgrounds is designed to help kids, or anyone for that matter, learn how to code. But are you taking advantage of it?

What Is Swift?

Swift is a coding language, created by Apple, that’s used to write apps for iOS, watchOS, macOS, tvOS and more. It was announced in 2014 at WWDC, and by 2015, it was voted the most loved computer language in the Stack Overflow Developer Survey.

Swift is made up of the best parts of many different coding languages including C, Objective-C, C++, Python and more. One of the major benefits of Swift is its ability to create apps that can be usable on all of Apple’s operating systems without much additional work.

So What Is ‘Swift Playgrounds’?

Swift Playgrounds is an iPad app Apple created to help teach kids how to code. We all learn in different ways, but it’s well known that it’s easier to stay engaged if you can make education fun. That’s exactly what Apple has done.

Swift Playgrounds is a 3D based game designed to teach you the basics, and some advanced parts, of coding. You start off as a fun looking character named Byte.

Your goal is to move Byte around a 3D world and collect gems. To move Byte around the board, you must enter commands using the Swift coding language. For example, if you want to move Byte forward, you type moveForward(). The levels of the game start off easy, but as you progress, the coding becomes more difficult.

Apple included dozens and dozens of challenges (basically like separate chapters) that focus on different aspects of coding. Each challenge adds a new coding concept and gives you an entirely new set of goals to achieve.

Once you have a good understanding of how coding with Swift works, you can add third-party devices, likes drone or a robot, to integrate into your playground.

For example, Sphero makes a ball that you can control around obstacles. See Apple’s list of compatible third-party toys and hardware here.

It’s easy to see that computers are now integral to our lives. Thankfully, companies like Apple are looking into the future by helping young kids learn to code today. I’m far from a kid, but even I enjoy using the Swift Playgrounds app.

Apple also offers a “Coding Lab for Kids” Today at Apple session. Today at Apple sessions are available at all Apple Stores, where they’ll teach you how to make music, videos, shoot and edit photography, and so much more. The best part is, all of the sessions are completely free.

  • Check out this link here to sign up for a free Today at Apple session.
  • Swift Playgrounds is a free app that’s compatible with every iPad running iOS 11 and newer.

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