Last year Apple launched Swift Playgrounds, a project to teach coding in a fun and easy manner that kids would enjoy. Swift Playgrounds teaches computer programming through a nifty iPad app. The interface is similar to sites like Codecademy, but it’s more colorful and visually entertaining, making it perfect for kids. The iPad app presents code and instructions on one side with an animation on the other. Kids tinker with the code and the animation comes to life.
Apple announced an update to its Swift Playgrounds yesterday. Available for free on June 5th, the Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update adds support for kid-friendly robots, drones, and toys. The company has partnered with many major toy companies like Lego, Sphero, and Parrot to integrate Bluetooth-enabled robots and drones with the Swift Playgrounds app. Kids will now be able to bring their code to life in the form of a Sphero robotic ball or a Parrot mini quadcopter.
“More than 1 million kids and adults from around the world are already using Swift Playgrounds to learn the fundamentals of coding with Swift in a fun and interactive way,” said Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering. “Now they can instantly see the code they create and directly control their favorite robots, drones and instruments through Swift Playgrounds. It’s an incredibly exciting and powerful way to learn.”
With over a million users on Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s set its sights on a new educational focus: hardware. No longer limited to a digital screen, kids will be able to interact with physical devices through Swift Playgrounds. With the success of Mindstorms, it’s no surprise that Apple and Lego have partnered for Playgrounds. Through the iPad app, kids can code and interact with a Mindstorm EV3 robot’s motors and sensors.
Likewise, Sphero’s SPRK+, the glowing robotic ball that already teaches kids computer programming basics, works with Playgrounds. The robotic ball rolls, turns, and lights up colors. Sensors detect when SPRK+ hits an obstacle and all of this can be controlled by the app.
Parrot’s plucky mini drones can be programmed with Playgrounds. The trio of palm-sized quadcopters (Mambo, Airborne, and Rolling Spider) can take off, land, and perform aerial tricks under the user’s code.
In addition to Lego, Sphero, and Parrot, Playgrounds supports humanoid robot kit Jimu and interactive music speaker Skoog. Apple says Swift Playgrounds will pair with these devices without any extra hardware requirements. If you have a supported product, the Playgrounds app should connect in a jiffy and have you coding your hardware in no time.
Via: The Verge