Apple is making it so easy to learn coding that even kids can master the skill.
The company unveiled a new app for the iPad at its annual WWDC developer conference in San Francisco on Monday that aims to help young users learn coding to be able to create their own programs, with no previous experience necessary.
To teach kids how to code, the app, called Swift Playgrounds, introduces basic programming concepts in a fun and interactive way. Users are tasked with helping the app's animated character complete challenges and solve puzzles while learning Apple's coding language Swift.
Since being introduced two years ago, Apple's open-source programming language is currently being used by professional developers as well as young coders. However, Swift Playgrounds is a way to get even more kids interested in learning how to create their own programs and apps.
"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," Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering, said. "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."
Swift Playgrounds puts the emphasis on graphics with animation and games to make learning attractive to the young coder. The app features lessons with step-by-step directions of what to do that teach kids commands, how to create functions, performing loops and how to use conditional code and variables.
The app also has a special keyboard that features shortcuts to make entering in the code even easier to be able to program with just a few taps using the iPad's Multi-Touch interface. Shortcuts include dragging and dropping common code and the pop-over keyword for adding a color value.
Standalone challenges will also be released regularly so that the child can continue to learn even after mastering the core basics.
More advanced students can also use and modify Swift Playground's built-in templates to use as a starting off point and add their own graphics, commands and interactions and export their customized code to Xcode to turn their program into their very own app.
The code can also be shared via Mail, Messages or AirDrop so that parents can then add onto their child's creation for a family collaboration. Videos of the running program can also be shared.
Swift Playgrounds is now in developer preview, with the public beta launching next month. The coding app for kids will launch in the fall for free.