This is an amazingly detailed, wholly interactive and fun coding app. Marketing itself as a revolutionary and interactive way to learn Swift (the powerful programming language of Apple itself), Swift Playgrounds presents the player in an interactive 3D world where a character called Byte stands before a series of obstacles in a digital maze.
With assistance and guidance instructions you must help Byte navigate throughout the world using real code such as moveForward() and turnLeft(). These commands evolve and become more detailed as you move through the lessons and build on your coding knowledge. Once these concepts have been mastered you can then move onto more advanced concepts. The app assumes no coding knowledge starting out, and therefore is perfect for students at the beginning of their voyage of exploration.
Identifying a New Generation of Swift Developers
Beginning with the “Fundamentals of Swift” lessons, you will tackle goals using the same types of code instruction professional developers use every day. As you move forward, more complex code is introduced and you will continually build on what you’ve learned to date. So what if anything makes this coding app different to all the others? Why would you decide to choose this one over any of the others?
If your child is an Apple fan then this is probably the best option there is. The app takes full advantage of the high-quality resolution display that is available on the iPad. It also utilises the multi-touch capabilities and simplicity of the iPad, where you can just tap, drag or type text and numbers before interacting with what you’ve just created. The sleek design interface presents something that is shiny and interesting. It stands before you as a way to bring the coding experience to the masses… on an Apple device.
Let’s be honest. By creating this coding app (which requires iOS 10 by the way) Apple have shown themselves to be interested in the “Everyone should have an opportunity to learn how to code” mantra of the early 21st century. But it’s also an opportunity for them to turn kids into Apple fans. The quality of the graphics is far superior to other coding apps out there. Byte is an absolutely adorable character and the way in which the interface responds to user input is amazing. It’s obvious that some serious design and development budgets were put into this. But hey, if you have it why not use it ….
Swift Playgrounds is really designed for the bright pre-teen or adult. It assumes a good level of reading capability and may be more suited for team exercises or in a guided classroom scenario. The continuous scrolling required when the iPad is in portrait mode is somewhat annoying and the tap and type can sometimes feel monotonous. Personally we felt frustrated a lot with the instructions given. It’s safe to assume that you won’t find your 5 year old spending hours on this.
Swift Playgrounds won’t see kids making apps which they can put on the App Store. Instead, like most of its genre on the market today, it’s meant to get them to think programmatically. Mistakes are gently corrected and there are no “WRONG ANSWER – TRY AGAIN” popups here. You are simply encouraged to have another go with some suggestions on the route to take.
One great feature that we must mention is that Swift Playgrounds is accessible with voiceover, the screen-reading tool built into every iOS device on the market. Once VO is enabled, the interface turns from a 3D perspective to an aerial view of the world, mimicking a digital checkers board. The structure of the world is given to the user in audible form as are the locations of the obstacles. This is an addition that we haven’t seen before on coding apps similar to this. But as Apple have been at the forefront of accessible tablet technology since 2007, this was only to be expected. We applaud their mindful efforts.