By: Joshua Qualls, Informatics Student at Indiana University
Apple held its annual Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) this past June. Among all the new announcements was something that got me really excited: a free application geared towards kids that teach you Swift.
Apple first introduced its new Swift programming language at WWDC 2014 and has been one of the fastest growing programming languages in the world.
Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said, “I wish Swift Playgrounds was around when I was first learning to code. 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.”
It seems as if Apple is doing what schools should have been for years. We’ve all heard that learning a second language is easier when you’re young, and programming is not different. I mean, it’s called a programming language for a reason. Plus, schools are still teaching languages like Latin.
Look, I took Latin and all, but what’s the use in that? I would have much rather learned how to code. Coding teaches skills such as problem-solving and organization, and Latin teaches… well, how to speak a dead language.
So how does Swift Playgrounds work? Swift Playgrounds focuses on using puzzles and games to master Swift code. Players will learn the basics of coding, such as functions, loops, variables, conditionals, bug fixing, etc., in a fun and easy way.
Swift Playgrounds also comes with pre-loaded templates with advanced code to help users integrate iPad technologies like pedometer and Multi-Touch into their programs. Students can also add their own audio and graphics to these templates.
Once users have completed the app’s built-in library of lessons, they can advance to new challenges Swift Playgrounds available for download within the app. Finally, any code created in the app can also be exported to Xcode and vice versa when students are ready to take the next step.
With a company as large as Apple emphasizing the education of kids in programming, maybe schools will take head to this and we’ll see a larger focus on programming.
Hopefully, we’ll finally see Xcode, the integrated development environment for Apple OS, for iPad soon?