Swift Play­grounds 1.5

Stu­dents can learn how to write code to con­trol prod­ucts from Lego, Par­rot, Sphero, and more,

Macworld - - Contents - finds Ro­man Loy­ola

When Ap­ple re­leased Swift Play­grounds in 2016, it opened the world of cod­ing to kids (and adults) who thought just the idea of cre­at­ing an app was in­tim­i­dat­ing. Swift Play­grounds makes codes ap­proach­able and fun to learn, com­bin­ing tu­to­ri­als, a touch in­ter­face, and ‘chal­lenges’ on an iPad that any­one can use for free.

While Swift Play­grounds can be a very sat­is­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence that re­sults in your very own app, tech­nol­ogy moves for­ward – we’re now in a world where

drones and ro­bots are preva­lent. With that in mind, Ap­ple on Wed­nes­day an­nounced Swift Play­grounds ver­sion 1.5, which in­cludes tools that teach stu­dents how to con­trol drones and ro­bots over Blue­tooth us­ing an iPad.

The new pro­gram gives teach­ers ac­cess to Swift Play­grounds cur­ricu­lum that works with a num­ber of ro­bots and drones, in­clud­ing prod­ucts from Lego, Par­rot, Sphero, Ubtech Ro­bot­ics, and Won­der Work­shop. Since Swift is an open-source lan­guage, Ap­ple says that makes it easy for other com­pa­nies to jump on the band­wagon.

The ad­di­tion of drone and ro­bot sup­port expands Swift Play­grounds’ con­tent li­brary, and the di­rect re­sults ex­pe­ri­enced by stu­dents can be sat­is­fy­ing and help main­tain in­ter­est in cod­ing. “Kids know the dif­fer­ence be­tween writ­ing some­thing that’s real and writ­ing some­thing that’s not real,” said Cheryl Thomas, Ap­ple VP of En­gi­neer­ing, Swift Play­grounds.

Teach­ers can ac­cess the new Swift Play­grounds 1.5 as a free down­load in the App Store. The app re­quires iOS 10 or later, and can run on all iPad Air and iPad Pro mod­els, as well as the iPad mini 2. Sup­port is pro­vided through Ap­ple’s Ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram, which in­cludes Pro­fes­sional Learn­ing Spe­cial­ists to help with the les­sons.

Since its in­tro­duc­tion in 2014, Swift has been em­braced by soft­ware de­vel­op­ers. Ap­ple said that over 250,000 apps have been cre­ated us­ing Swift. The com­pany is also ex­cited by Swift Play­grounds; at the ver­sion 1.5 event, Ap­ple rep­re­sen­ta­tives said the over a mil­lion unique users have used the learn­ing soft­ware.

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