Until recently Apple’s icons were a colorful, friendly bunch: like the original classic apple logo with a bite out of it; the wonderfully expressive--if silent-- speech bubble. But the latest arrival, Byte the Swift Playgrounds’ hero, while every bit as colorful, is built like the mating result of a hammerhead shark with a pear; it looks like the digital incarnation of a child’s nightmare. Yes, Yes, I know, kids will probably love it!
Swift Playgrounds is the new app first viewed at The Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2016, June 13-17 in San Francisco. Scheduled for fall, 2016, it was developed with kids and mobile devices in mind. Kids, like everyone else in the digital universe are turning away from desktops to iphones and ipads and Apple wants to be there for them. I’ll bet it does!
The idea of Swift Playgrounds is to give kids an app that will take advantage of Apple’s already existing Swift Programming Language and make coding easier for kids and more fun. The app consists of a split screen. On one side is a rather familiar looking coding editor; on the other, in full 3D color, waits the aforementioned horror, Byte. With Apple Split View the code or Playground window will become full screen on command. Try it; Byte’s amazing Playground (island) is a wonder to behold full-screen.
The coding engine behind Swift Playgrounds is Apple’s Swift programming language. The Wiki entry for Swift calls it “a general-purpose, multi-paradigm, compiled programming language created for iOS, OSX, watchOS, tvOS, and Linux.” Don’t bore your kids with that definition. Instead, use Swift Playground to show them how visual it is, and how easy it is to order Byte to move around his colorful island picking up gems. They can also use Swift to develop apps for their own iphones and ipads (not, as yet, the App Store itself).
Oh, and if Byte causes the kids nightmares, there are two other little creatures you can turn to on the Playground-- although they scare this old guy as much as Byte!
Coding becomes more important with every passing year. The sooner kids learn how easy and fun it is, the sooner they can press on to even more complicated coding programs. Apple Swift Playground looks like a great place to start on their mobile equipment.