Swift Playgrounds

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Swift Playgrounds
Developer(s)Developer Tools Department
Apple Inc
Initial releaseiPad
September 13, 2016; 6 years ago (2016-09-13)
macOS
February 11, 2020; 2 years ago (2020-02-11)
PlatformiPadOS, macOS
Available inDutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish
TypeEducation App
Websitewww.apple.com/swift/playgrounds/ Edit this on Wikidata

Swift Playgrounds is an educational tool and development environment for the Swift programming language developed by Apple Inc., initially announced at the WWDC 2016 conference.[1] It was introduced as an iPad application alongside iOS 10, with a macOS version introduced in February 2020.[2] It is available for free via Apple's App Store for iPadOS and Mac App Store for macOS.

In addition to publishing the Swift Playgrounds application itself, Apple also produces a series of educational lessons teaching programming and debugging skills.[3] The application can also subscribe to lessons and other content published by third parties,[4][5] including lessons allowing users to control educational toys such as Lego Mindstorms EV3 and Sphero robots.[6] Apple publishes a curriculum guide for educators wishing to incorporate Swift Playgrounds into their teaching.[7]

Features[edit]

Screenshot of Swift Playgrounds. The goal of this exercise is to help Byte collect a gem using a combination of simple commands.

Swift Playgrounds was designed to be a development environment and an education tool simultaneously.[8] The app allows users to download lessons and challenges. Once stored on the iPad, these can be copied and modified without the need of an active internet connection.

Apple's initial lessons, available for all Swift Playgrounds users to download, introduce three characters: Byte, Blu, and Hopper. In each challenge, young coders are asked to assist these characters achieving simple goals by coding simple instructions. As challenges become more difficult, more complex algorithms are required to solve them and new concepts are introduced.[9] Advanced lessons in Playgrounds introduce users to more complex features such as Apple's Bluetooth and Augmented Reality development platform (ARKit) APIs.[10]

In addition to Apple's own educational content, Swift Playgrounds can download third-party lessons through its subscriptions feature.[5][4] Some third-party lessons allow the app to control robots (such as Lego Mindstorms EV3 and Sphero educational toys) and drones (such as the Parrot).[6] Apple also offers coding classes using Swift Playgrounds at Apple Stores.[11]

Swift Playgrounds was designed to be fully accessible to users with disabilities.[7][12] It supports Apple's VoiceOver screen reader technology, and at WWDC 2020 Apple introduced a series of lessons called "Swan's Quest" which use accessibility features to help students solve puzzles.[13]

History[edit]

The Swift Playgrounds application was announced on June 13, 2016 at WWDC 2016 as an iPad exclusive app to help people learning to code with Apple's Swift programming language.[1][14] A beta version for Apple developers was released on the same date, followed by a public beta version in the following month. The app was presented as a teaching tool for students, introducing the core concepts of coding using an interactive environment designed for touch.[15] The application's name is an apparent reference to Xcode's earlier Playgrounds feature, introduced in 2014.[citation needed]

Along with iOS 10, the app was officially released on September 13, 2016.[16] Apple also published a curriculum guide, recommending the iPad app for middle school students and up.[7] In January 2018, Apple introduced subscriptions to the iPad application, allowing users to subscribe to playgrounds developed by third parties.[5][4]

On February 11, 2020, Apple released a macOS version of Swift Playgrounds on the Mac App Store, built using Apple's Catalyst technology.[2] Subsequent versions of the application have supported both iPadOS and macOS, with most of Apple's curriculum available on both platforms.[citation needed] For WWDC 2020, Apple published a session instructing third-party developers on how to support both platforms in their subscriptions.[17]

Development[edit]

The iPad version of the Swift Playgrounds (1.0) was released on September 13, 2016. Chris Lattner was also one of the few core people who drove Swift Playgrounds for iPad, including conception, design, implementation, and iteration.[18] Simultaneously with its release, Apple published guides on the iBookStore to teach users how to navigate and use the application.[14] The launch coincided with a large Silicon Valley campaign to press public schools to teach coding and was followed by Apple's announcement of the "Everyone Can Code" initiative, a program that provides computer science curriculum to help kids learn how to code.[19][20] Swift Playgrounds is included in this program as free coding curriculum and Apple provides detailed guides to walk teachers through teaching Swift.[21] Apple also released "App Development with Swift", a year-long curriculum for teaching Swift software development and later introduced a Swift certification program to validate coding skills for students.[22][23]

In May 2018, Apple announced the extension of "Everyone Can Code" initiative to US schools serving blind and deaf students. In January 2017, Apple partnered with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) to provide braille versions of the Swift Playgrounds graphics used in its coding course.[24][25]

Version history[edit]

Date Version Description
June 2016 Apple announces Swift Playgrounds for iPad - version for Apple Developers is released
July 2016 Public beta version released
September 2016 1.0 First version is released
March 2017 1.2 Language support for Simplified Chinese, Japanese, French, German and Latin American Spanish;

Support for MapKit framework

June 2017 1.5 Possibility to write code to control robots and drones (Lego Mindstorms EV3, Parrot, Sphero...)[26][27]
September 2017 1.6 Support for ARKit (Augmented Reality)

Support for Swift 4

Access to camera

January 2018 2.0 Subscriptions for third-party playgrounds made available.[5]
May 2019 3.0 Support for Swift 5

Shared Swift files

October 2019 3.1 Support for Swift 5.1

SwiftUI framework included

February 2020 3.2 (macOS-only)[28] Support for macOS[28]
April 2020 3.3 Support for iPadOS cursor[28]
November 2020 3.4 Console area shows the output of print() statements[28]

Export as new playground feature[28]

December 2021 4.0 Apps can be built with SwiftUI
May 2022 4.1 Guided walkthroughs teach SwiftUI app building basics

Build and run apps on macOS 12.4

Reception[edit]

Upon release, Swift Playgrounds reached the first place in the top free iPad education apps in nearly 100 countries. The app received generally positive reviews from users (4/5 rating score on the App Store) and from the press.[29][19][30][31][32][33][34][35][36][21] The app's ability to make serious coding accessible to young students was praised, as well as the fact that it was not excessively focused on Swift but rather in teaching good coding practices.[37][38] Common Sense Media rates Swift Playgrounds with a 5/5 ranking score.[39]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Getting Started with Swift - WWDC 2016 - Videos". Apple Developer. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Lyles, Taylor (2020-02-12). "Apple's free learn-to-code Swift Playgrounds sandbox arrives on Mac". The Verge. Retrieved 2020-02-14.
  3. ^ "Education - K-12 - Teaching Code". Apple. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c "Create Your Own Swift Playgrounds Subscription - WWDC 2018 - Videos". Apple Developer. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d "Apple releases Swift Playgrounds 2.0 with playground subscription options, more". AppleInsider. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Swift Playgrounds". Apple. Retrieved November 24, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c Apple Inc. (September 2017). "Swift Playgrounds Curriculum Guide" (PDF). Apple - Everyone can code.
  8. ^ "Swift Playgrounds: Previewing Apple's remarkable new portal to code". iMore. March 27, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  9. ^ "Learning to code with Swift Playgrounds as an adult". Macworld. April 6, 2018. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  10. ^ "What's New in Swift Playgrounds - WWDC 2017 - Videos". Apple Developer. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  11. ^ "Coding Skills: Programming Robots with Swift Playgrounds". Apple. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  12. ^ "Apple brings Everyone Can Code to schools serving blind and dead students". Apple. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  13. ^ "Coding and design starter kit". Apple Developer. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Mayo, Benjamin (June 13, 2016). "Apple announces Swift Playgrounds for iPad at WWDC, public release in fall". 9to5Mac. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  15. ^ "Swift Playgrounds". App Store. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  16. ^ Mayo, Benjamin (June 13, 2016). "Apple announces Swift Playgrounds for iPad at WWDC, public release in fall". 9to5Mac. Retrieved February 20, 2019.
  17. ^ "Create Swift Playgrounds content for iPad and Mac - WWDC 2020 - Videos". Apple Developer. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  18. ^ "Chris Lattner's Homepage". nondot.org. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  19. ^ a b Singer, Natasha (September 12, 2016). "Apple Offers Free App to Teach Children Coding (iPads Sold Separately)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  20. ^ Ravipati, Sri. "Apple Launches Everyone Can Code Initiative and Apple Teacher Program -". THE Journal. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  21. ^ a b Chambers, Bradley (May 19, 2018). "Making The Grade: Is Swift Playgrounds a useful tool in K-12?". 9to5Mac. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  22. ^ "Apple launches app development curriculum for high school and community college students". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  23. ^ Hall, Zac (July 30, 2018). "New Swift certification program validates coding skills for students". 9to5Mac. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  24. ^ Evans, Jonny (January 24, 2019). "Apple's 'Everyone Can Code' courses are now available in braille". Computerworld. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  25. ^ "Apple brings Everyone Can Code to schools serving blind and deaf students". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  26. ^ "Apple's new Swift Playgrounds 1.5 includes controls for robots and drones". Macworld. June 1, 2017. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  27. ^ Owen, Malcolm. "Swift Playgrounds could help users build controllable robots in coding lessons". AppleInsider. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  28. ^ a b c d e "-Release Notes - Swift Playgrounds". Apple Developer. Retrieved November 25, 2020.
  29. ^ "Swift Playgrounds - AppAnnie report". www.appannie.com. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  30. ^ Biersdorfer, J. D. (October 21, 2016). "Want to make your own app? There are free classes for that". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
  31. ^ "Learning to code with Swift Playgrounds as an adult". Macworld. April 6, 2018. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  32. ^ "Apple launches Swift Playgrounds for iPad to teach kids to code". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  33. ^ "Swift Playgrounds brings iOS app development to the masses". Macworld. June 13, 2016. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  34. ^ Dilger, Daniel Eran. "Apple's new Swift Playgrounds for iPad is a killer app for teaching code". AppleInsider. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  35. ^ Carman, Ashley (June 14, 2016). "Swift Playgrounds sells coding as simple and fun — just like rest of Apple's products". The Verge. Retrieved January 29, 2019.
  36. ^ Higgins, Michelle (March 20, 2017). "Travel Apps and Games for Children on the Go". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  37. ^ Swanner, Nate (July 14, 2016). "Here's why Apple really created Swift Playgrounds". The Next Web. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  38. ^ Miller, Paul (March 29, 2018). "The Xcode cliff: is Apple teaching kids to code, or just about code?". The Verge. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  39. ^ "Swift Playgrounds Review for Teachers". Common Sense Education. September 27, 2016. Retrieved February 10, 2019.

External links[edit]