One of the last but most-praised items unveiled at today's WWDC keynote was a new app called Swift Playgrounds. The iPad app aims to teach Apple's Swift programming language to kids (and adults). Swift is used by major developers to code most of the iOS apps available today.
Swift Playgrounds offers various lessons to help people learn to code. The first one is called "Fundamentals of Swift" and takes the form of a 3-D puzzle game in which you control a character called Byte to collect gems. In this lesson, the app has a special coding keyboard that allows users to quickly learn and write code, thus advancing Byte on his journey. On the left side of the screen, the user enters in their code, and on the right side, they see it carried out in all of its 3-D graphics glory.
Speaking at the keynote today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We believe coding should be a required subject in all schools." Swift Playgrounds seems to be Apple’s attempt to spur that development instead of simply waiting for school districts to launch their own initiatives.
Once users get past the first "Fundamentals of Swift" session in Swift Playgrounds, they can progress to more advanced lessons. Eventually the lessons cover all the fundamentals of Swift coding including commands, functions, parameters, conditional code, variables, and more. The app also offers templates to jump-start a user's creativity in creating their own coding masterpieces. Over time, Apple will continually add more lessons to Swift Playgrounds.
A beta of Swift Playgrounds is available today for developers, and the app will be a free download for all on the App Store this fall. The reaction to Swift Playgrounds was surprisingly more energized than the reaction to many of the new features in iOS and macOS that Apple unveiled today. On Twitter, reaction to Swift Playgrounds ran from the humorous to the congratulatory:
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