Apple announced in a press release today that its Swift Playgrounds app for iPad would soon be able to connect with and control real-world devices.
Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.
Since the primary purpose of Swift Playgrounds is education, today's announcement serves as a solid next step toward making coding fun and interesting for children. And the timing is fitting too. Expanding the capabilities of Swift Playgrounds with a 1.5 update Monday is a perfect kickoff to Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, where the app was first introduced last year.
Apple introduced a new year-long app development curriculum today for community college and high school students that is available as a special collection on the iBooks Store. The free-to-download course, which is an extension of Apple’s existing Everyone Can Code curriculum for kids in grades K-12, teaches students how to build fully-functional apps using the Swift programming language. In the fall, six community college systems that serve over 500,000 students will offer the new course.
Tim Cook explained why Apple has created the development course:
“We’ve seen firsthand the impact that coding has on individuals and the US economy as a whole. The app economy and software development are among the fastest-growing job sectors in America and we’re thrilled to be providing educators and students with the tools to learn coding,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Community colleges play a critical role in helping students achieve their dreams, and we hope these courses will open doors for people of all ages and backgrounds to pursue what they love.”
Swift Playgrounds has proven to be a powerful teaching tool with over 1 million downloads since it was introduced. In addition, over 1,000 schools in the US plan to teach using Apple’s Everyone Can Code materials in the fall. The extension of Everyone Can Code to older students should make the entire program even more attractive to educators than before.
Today Apple added support for five new languages to its Swift Playgrounds app for iPad: Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German and Latin American Spanish.
In its announcement, Apple quoted Xiaoming Bao of Hangzhou Foreign Languages School:
"Swift Playgrounds is the perfect app to help our students learn to code, and I’m very excited students in China are now are able to use it with Simplified Chinese support...Last year, we created an optional coding class for my students to learn fundamental coding concepts using Swift Playgrounds. I had no previous experience with coding, but the engaging and easy-to-learn app, along with the comprehensive teacher guide developed by Apple, made me confident that I could inspire and facilitate my students to learn to code, and understand coding as a way of thinking that can be applied to other subjects and everyday life. Chinese language support will make the learning experience with Swift Playgrounds even easier for students.”
Swift Playgrounds is available on the App Store.
Update: Chris Lattner has landed at Tesla Motors according to this Tesla blog post and the following tweet from the official Tesla account:
Chris Lattner designed and built most of LLVM as a graduate student. In 2005, he joined Apple where LLVM was integrated into Apple’s developer tools. Beginning in 2010, Lattner designed and built much of Swift, which was introduced to the world by Apple at WWDC in 2014.
Today, Lattner announced on the Swift mailing list that he is leaving Apple:
Since Apple launched Swift at WWDC 2014, the Swift team has worked closely with our developer community. When we made Swift open source and launched Swift.org we put a lot of effort into defining a strong community structure. This structure has enabled Apple and the amazingly vibrant Swift community to work together to evolve Swift into a powerful, mature language powering software used by hundreds of millions of people.
I’m happy to announce that Ted Kremenek will be taking over for me as “Project Lead” for the Swift project, managing the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org. This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I’ve made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space. This decision wasn't made lightly, and I want you all to know that I’m still completely committed to Swift. I plan to remain an active member of the Swift Core Team, as well as a contributor to the swift-evolution mailing list.
Working with many phenomenal teams at Apple to launch Swift has been a unique life experience. Apple is a truly amazing place to be able to assemble the skills, imagination, and discipline to pull something like this off. Swift is in great shape today, and Swift 4 will be a really strong release with Ted as the Project Lead.
Note that this isn’t a change to the structure - just to who sits in which role - so we don’t expect it to impact day-to-day operations in the Swift Core Team in any significant way. Ted and I wanted to let you know what is happening as a part of our commitment to keeping the structure of Swift.org transparent to our community.
Lattner’s contribution to Apple’s developer tools has been enormous. His departure is a big loss for Apple.
Apple has participated in Code.org’s Hour of Code challenge for the past three years. Apple announced today that it will participate again this year with a series of workshops for kids from December 5 - 11, 2016, which coincides with Computer Science Education Week.
Angela Ahrendts, Apple’s senior vice president of Retail had this to say:
Hour of Code embodies our vision for Apple stores as a place for the community to gather, learn and be entertained…. We’re proud to introduce the Swift Playgrounds app into the workshops and honored to again work side-by-side with Code.org on this incredibly important initiative. Hour of Code is one of the absolute highlights of the year for both our teams and the families that visit our stores.
In addition to using Swift Playgrounds in the workshops for the first time, Apple is adding a new Hour of Code challenge to Swift Playgrounds called 'Putting it Together.' Apple’s press release explains that:
A new Hour of Code challenge in Swift Playgrounds makes it easy for anyone to set up their own one-hour coding event, and for those continuing to build their coding skills on iPad, Swift Playgrounds adds a new Learn to Code 3 set of lessons and a companion Teacher Guide.
Signup for the workshops is not yet live, but should be available here soon.
Right at the end of the WWDC 2016 keynote, Apple announced Swift Playgrounds. This is a new app from Apple that is designed to allow children to learn to program on an iPad. This is a first from Apple and a major advance for iOS as a platform.
I was fortunate to be awarded an educator scholarship to WWDC 2016 and was privileged to be in the audience at the announcement. While attending the conference, I was able to speak with many of the engineers and educators working on Swift Playgrounds and gain an insight into what the software is capable of and the reasons why it was built.
TapCoding is an iOS app that teaches Swift programming. In the two years since Swift was announced, it has seen a lot of change, but with the language starting to stabilize and mature, now is a good time to dive in and learn Swift. TapCoding breaks Swift down into bite-sized mini-lessons with a curriculum that spans difficulty levels from first-time novice to intermediate.
Episode 139 of The Talk Show with John Gruber:
Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi joins the show for a wide-ranging half-hour discussion about Swift — Apple’s new programming language that just went open source.
Next, John Siracusa returns to the show to follow up on Federighi’s segment on Swift. Other topics include Apple’s new Smart Battery Case for the iPhone 6/6S, and our mutual (and perhaps futile) desire to head into this week’s premiere of Star Wars: The Force Awakens knowing as few spoilers as possible.
A great episode of The Talk Show, ready for your morning (or evening) commute. It is fantastic (and kind of amazing) to hear an Apple Executive discuss what can be a deeply technical topic, outside of WWDC. There's also a transcript of the Federighi segment for those of you who would prefer reading the discussion.