Swift Playgrounds has been around for quite a while on the iPad, but now, it’s on the Mac too as a Mac Catalyst app.
Swift Playgrounds teaches coding concepts and the Swift programming language. Until today, the app, which includes lessons designed to teach Swift alongside a coding environment, was an iPad exclusive. Now, however, anyone interested in learning Swift can move from the iPad to the Mac and back again.
I’ve been a fan of Swift Playgrounds since it debuted. It’s a friendly, easy-to-use environment for experimenting with Swift ideas and concepts, and the lessons available are excellent. With the addition of a native Catalyst app on the Mac, anyone who wants to learn Swift can do so whether they are in front of their Mac or using an iPad. What’s more, the additional space afforded by most Macs there’s more room to navigate playground books and files. Playgrounds on the Mac includes expanded code completion functionality that allows you to navigate code suggestions with the arrow keys on your keyboard or trackpad too.
I haven’t had a chance to spend more than a few minutes with the new Swift Playgrounds yet, but it’s clear from even a cursory review of the app that a lot of thought and care has gone into it. The sidebar and Touch Bar support stand out as terrific Mac-centric additions that take advantage of the Mac’s bigger screen and keyboard and trackpad. I’m looking forward to diving spending more time with Swift Playgrounds on my Mac mini in the coming weeks.
Swift Playgrounds is available as a free download on the Mac App Store and requires macOS Catalina 10.15.3.
In March, Apple lead a Swift Playgrounds course at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Today, which is Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Apple announced that is partnering with schools in California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois, and Massachusetts:
Beginning this fall, schools supporting students with vision, hearing or other assistive needs will start teaching the Everyone Can Code curricula for Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language.
Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, said:
“Apple’s mission is to make products as accessible as possible,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We created Everyone Can Code because we believe all students deserve an opportunity to learn the language of technology. We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities.”
In addition to existing iOS accessibility features, Apple is augmenting the Everyone Can Code curricula with tools and resources targeted at students with visual and hearing impairments.
Earlier this week, Apple engineers visited the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired where they led a programming course from the company’s Everyone Can Code curriculum. According to the Austin Statesman’s technology blog, Open Source, the class was the first such session led by Apple for blind and low-vision students.
With the assistance of VoiceOver, the students completed assignments in Apple’s Swift Playgrounds iPad app. The students also got a chance to go outside and fly Parrot drones using Swift Playgrounds. Viki Davidson, a technology teacher at the school, told Open Source:
“We see this as a way to get them interested in coding and realize this could open job opportunities,” said Vicki Davidson, a technology teacher at the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired. “Apple has opened up a whole new world for kids by giving them instant access to information and research, and now coding.”
Apple’s director of accessibility, Sarah Herrlinger, who will participate in a session on Innovations in Accessibility at South By Southwest on March 15th, said:
“When we said everyone should be able to code, we really meant everyone,” said Sarah Herrlinger, Apple’s director of accessibility. “Hopefully these kids will leave this session and continue coding for a long time. Maybe it can inspire where their careers can go.”
Swift Playgrounds and Apple’s Everyone Can Code curriculum have grown at a remarkable rate and are fantastic resources for students, teachers, and parents. However, it’s Apple’s long-standing commitment to accessibility across all of its products that helps ensure that those resources are available to as many students as possible.
Apple has released version 2.0 of the Swift Playgrounds iPad app. The app provides an interactive learning environment for the Swift programming language. With version 2.0, Apple has introduced subscriptions to playgrounds from third-party creators. According to Apple’s developer news site:
You’ll automatically see new and updated playgrounds in your subscriptions, a content gallery that shows all playgrounds in a single view, new robots, and much more.
Subscriptions can be added by entering a URL or by browsing a gallery Apple has created, both of which are accessible from an ‘Add Subscription’ button in the top right-hand corner of the screen from which you add new playgrounds. As of publication, the buttons for adding subscriptions from the gallery do not work, but they should soon. When updated playgrounds are available, you can receive a notification too. Among the first third parties with subscription-based playgrounds are Sphero, Lego Mindstorms, UBTech, Parrot Drones, IBM, Mekamon, Wonder Workshop, and Skoog.
In addition to subscriptions, the update includes enhanced documentation for the Swift programming language and iOS SDK, and playgrounds can be opened from the Locations button in the Files app.
Apple has participated in Code.org’s Hour of Code challenge for the past several years. This year, the company is back again with a series of workshops for kids that run from December 4 - 10, 2017, which coincides with Computer Science Education Week. During free sessions:
Young aspiring coders can learn coding basics during a Kids Hour session, while those age twelve and above can use Swift Playgrounds on iPad to learn coding concepts and even program robots.
In addition to the in-store lessons, Apple has added a new coding challenge to its Swift Playgrounds iPad app with which students build and customize a digital robot and new teacher resources as part of its Everyone Can Code curriculum.
You can sign up for the Hour of Code sessions here, but act quickly because in years past, these sessions have filled up fast.
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.