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Apple's kid-friendly iPad coding app arrives tomorrow

Swift Playground teaches kids a real programming language.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
September 12, 2016
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There are lots of initiatives to teach kids how to code, including ventures from Google, Minecraft and even the Star Wars franchise. However, with Swift Playground, Apple is actually prepping kids for a potential career at, well, Apple. The company has announced that the app, based on the Swift language used for iOS, OS X, WatchOS, tvOS and Linux, will arrive alongside iOS 10 tomorrow (September 13th).

As Engadget's Nicole Lee discovered during a hands-on, it's actually a nice way way to learn programming. It assumes that kids have zero knowledge, but produces actual Swift code that can be used to develop real apps. At the same time, it's open-ended -- young coders learn in a non-linear way, so enthusiastic kids can skip ahead if they want. It rewards students regardless of the quality of code, but gives extra kudos for well-optimized solutions.

Apple says there are over 100 schools and districts teaching the app this fall in the US, Europe and Africa. Apple will also offer its own "Get Started with Coding" workshops that will show the basics of Swift Playgrounds. It'll also offer a drop-in hour for folks who want extra help with "challenging puzzles" in the app. If you want to get a head start on your kids (you're gonna need it), the workshops and drop-in sessions will be available at select stores in the US, Canada, UK, Australia, UAE, Netherlands and Hong Kong.

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