EVERYONE CAN CODE, proclaimed Apple CEO Tim Cook at the company’s annual theatrical keynote. For students, Cook also hopes that a new game, Swift Playgrounds, will get them hooked on a specific programming language—Swift—that is now used to develop the company’s mobile, desktop, watch and television products.
The game, released today, features bright, colorful animations as the backdrop for lessons covering topics such as functions, loops, parameters and arrays. In the game, players enter a series of commands and hit “Run”to move an avatar in order to solve puzzles. (Unlike other coding games designed for children, Swift Playground does not use the drag-and-drop block interface.) The game is paired with a teacher’s guide that explains each of the concepts. Teachers can also create their own coding challenges.
Swift Playgrounds is available on free and currently only runs on iPads. That’s a limitation not lost on this cheeky New York Times headline, which raised concerns over access equity for schools and families that cannot afford such devices. Apple says it will try to help: Cook claims the company will donate iPads to 54,500 students this year as part of its ConnectED commitment.