Techno

Swift Playgrounds

Apple's sleek new iPad app teaches kids to code

By Dana Villamagna
Common Sense Media

Parents need to know that Swift Playgrounds is an iPad-only app that helps kids learn Swift, which is a programming language made by Apple and used to create apps. The puzzles and challenges incorporate cute alien-like characters and a 3D world to teach kids (or adults) to code using Swift. Users work through all the lessons and challenges, which include "every concept and skill" required to write real apps, according to Apple. Note: Swift laygrounds is not compatible with iPhones or any iPad that does not have the iOS 10.0 update or is not a Mini, Air, or Pro. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

Tap on "Learn

to Code 1 Fundamentals of Swift" to download the first lesson on Swift Playgrounds. Then tap "Open" and start the lesson, which begins with some veryday questions and discussion about the purpose of coding. Follow the onscreen instructions to tap already-written lines of code in the proper order to move the character, Byte, and make him collect a gem. Once complete, tap "Run My Code" to see if it works. If not, you can return to the code and re-do it, or tap on "Hint" to find out more.

Tap Next Page to go onto the next coding challenge.
Download more lessons and challenges, as desired.
Multiple users can keep their own progress in the app.
Also, there are customization options, recording, and
sharing for more advanced users.

IS IT ANY GOOD?
This play-to-learn app is an engaging, eye-pleasing, and easy way for tweens, teens, and adults to learn the programming language Swift. There's lots of help through clear instructions and hints that are available when a user gets stuck on a puzzle. The glossary of common coding terms gets kids up to speed on the lingo. Also, the ability to tap on snippets of real code cuts down on typing. For kids who can read well (the vocabulary ramps up as lessons progress), Swift Playgrounds will feel much more like free-flow fun than coding lessons. The only downside is that you need a new-ish iPad to use it, which may be a dealbreaker for those who can't afford to upgrade. Going beyond coding blocks, Swift Playgrounds is an exploratory, low-pressure way to learn Swift that feels like, well, a playground.

APP DETAILS
Device: iPad | Price: Free
Release date: 9/13/16
Category: Education | Publisher: Apple
Software requirements: iOS 10.0 or later
Rating: Recommended for ages 10 and older

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