The new Swift Playgrounds iPad app that teaches kids to code Swift is the biggest deal of WWDC 2016.
My 7-year-old is learning to code with apps like The Foos and Lightbot Hour right now, but these are closed learning games. Apple takes learning to code for kids to the next level - to the real level - with Swift Playgrounds for the iPad. Kids can create actual Swift code in a playful environment. As they advance they can take the Swift code they developed in Playgrounds to XCode and make a real iPhone app. This is incredible and will enable a whole new generation of online entrepreneurs.
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Swift Playgrounds will make these new coders Apple faithfuls. Apple's Swift programming language already enables people with ideas to transform them into apps easier than it has ever been before. Apple has released a video titled "New Beginnings" featuring kids and adults that have created apps with Swift that is very inspirational. Watch that video below.
"I wish Swift Playgrounds was around when I was first learning to code,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. "Swift Playgrounds is the only app of its kind that is both easy enough for students and beginners, yet powerful enough to write real code. It’s an innovative way to bring real coding concepts to life and empower the next generation with the skills they need to express their creativity.”
Swift 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.
Playgrounds 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.
The library of Apple-developed programming lessons helps students learn core coding concepts, such as issuing commands, creating functions, performing loops and using conditional code and variables, and allows them to progressively build confidence and skill. Apple will regularly release new standalone challenges so students can continue to refine their coding abilities as their skills and interests grow. Educators and developers can also use Xcode to create their own unique challenges for the app.
In addition to the lessons, Swift Playgrounds comes with a number of built-in templates to help aspiring developers express their creativity. Students and developers can modify and build on this code to make it their own by adding graphics and touch interactions. Swift Playgrounds allows you to create a virtually unlimited variety of interactive programs using Swift and the iOS frameworks. You can create empty playground documents or start from one of the built-in templates with scaffolding for graphics and user interface to build powerful apps that respond to touch and the accelerometer or that control Bluetooth devices.
And since 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. This is the most powerful aspect of Playgrounds. It enables kids to seamlessly transition from playing to releasing a commercial app.
A preview release of Swift Playgrounds is available to Apple Developer Program members as part of the iOS 10 developer preview and will be available with the iOS 10 public beta in July. I am definitely going to sign-up for this public beta at beta.apple.com.
The final version of Swift Playgrounds will be available in the App Store for free this fall. Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10.
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