Apple has revealed Swift Playground, an iPad app designed to teach children basic coding skills with the Swift open source programming language.
The app will be made available for free for iOS 10 users when the new mobile operating system rolls out to iPads in the Autumn.
It combines the powerful Swift language with the simple interface of the iPad, and uses game-like experiences to teach children and those completely new to code to learn how to carry out basic programming in the language in a step-by-step process.
This should help people understand how to create chains of coded commands and gain familiarity with a custom keyboard Apple has created for the app to incorporate the Swift language.
As the programming language that underpins every iOS app, teaching children how to code with Swift gives them the potential to create software that has a massive reach, particularly given there are now two billion apps on the Apple App Store.
Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, championed Swift Playgrounds as a way to “revolutionise” the way people learn to code.
“We believe it its the absolute best way to teach everyone to code,” he said. “We believe coding should be a required language in all schools.”
As such, Swift Playground will be a free app for all users of iOS, meaning Apple is willing to stand by its championing of coding.
By doing this, Apple will effectively be saving some parents and would-be coders the money they would have to spend on coding courses and education materials to help them get to grips with Swift.
Swift Playground - just saved $450 on coding summer camp for my daughter!— carolina milanesi (@caro_milanesi) June 13, 2016
Swift Playground comes at an opportune time, where in the UK coding has been made a compulsory subject in the English schools curriculum, and there is the need to find a means to plug a digital skills gap that stands to threaten the UK’s technology industry.
Equally, a cynic could argue that with Swift Playground Apple is steering young people to learn it coding language, thereby potentially corner some of the star developers of the future into creating apps for its ecosystem.
As such it would not be surprising if in the near future Google offers a similar app and coding scheme to take on its rival.
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