One of the best and most important announcements at WWDC 2016 was Swift Playgrounds, an iPad app that made coding not only accessible but fun for children of all ages. For a company that makes billions off iPhone sales, it was a singularly noble gift to education, especially since there'd been nothing like it for decades, not since the days of Hypercard and maybe Logo.
Now, on the eve of WWDC 2017, Apple is updating Swift Playgrounds to version 1.5 and making it compatible with a joyous array of third-party robotics sets.
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of Software Engineering:
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. 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.
And here's what Swift Playgrounds 1.5 will support:
LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3: LEGO MINDSTORMS EV3 are incredibly popular in schools around the world and give students the power to explore coding through real-life problem solving as they create and command their own robotic LEGO creatures, vehicles, machines and inventions. With Swift Playgrounds kids can code and interact with their creations' motors and sensors.
Sphero SPRK+ Robot: Sphero SPRK+, a popular robotic ball, rolls, turns, accelerates and changes colors. Sensors provide feedback when Sphero hits an obstacle, and all of it can be controlled with Swift code.
Parrot Mambo MiniDrone: Parrot's Mambo, Airborne and Rolling Spider drones can take off, land, turn and perform aerial figures like flips, all under the control of code users create.
UBTECH Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit: UBTECH's Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit lets kids program their buildable robot to walk, wave and dance.
Wonder Workshop Dash Robot: Dash by Wonder Workshop is an exciting, hands-on learning robot for students, designed to teach the fundamentals of coding, creative problem solving and computational thinking.
Skoogmusic Skoog 2.0: Skoog is a tactile cube that enables children of all abilities to have fun exploring, creating and playing music with Swift code.
You'll be able to get the new version on June 5, perhaps not-so-coincidentally the same day WWDC 2016 kicks off in San Jose, California.
Thanks for doing this Apple, and thanks to the teams of engineers and educators who make it a reality.
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