Swift Playgrounds for Mac
I unabashedly love Apple's education initiatives. It's a type of accessibility — of making technology more available and approachable to more and more people. And, yeah, sure, Apple will sell you an iPad for 300 bucks or an iPhone for 700 or a MacBook for 1100, or whatever, but Apple also makes tons of educational content available for free to people and schools, and training through curriculum and at Apple Retail Stores, all for everyone and all for free. As in, you don't have to spend a dime on it.
It's what I mean when I talk about the value of something being fundamentally different from the cost. It's something that I think gets lost in the vast majority of coverage. And it's why I'm incredibly grateful you all help me make videos like these to try and do something about it.
Back at WWDC 2016, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook brought Cheryl Thomas, Vice President of Software Engineering Operations, up on stage to introduce Swift Playgrounds for iPad. An educational development environment that made real programing using a real programming language — over half a million apps now built with it in the App Store and counting — accessible and approachable to beginners of all ages who interested in learning the fundamentals of code or becoming coders. To make those next million apps.
Since then, over 2.8 million people have downloaded, and over 5000 schools have deployed Swift Playground for iPad. And now, this week, for its second act, Apple is releasing Swift Playgrounds for the Mac.
Built using Catalyst, the UIKit for Mac technology Apple released as part of macOS Catalina, it takes everything great about the iPad version and makes it fully Mac native, with the menubar, side bar, and Touch Bar, resizable windows, a new code completion and help system, tabs, and a plethora of keyboard shortcuts.
Anything you do on the Mac version of Swift Playgrounds you can do on the iPad version. The reverse is also almost true — you can't start augmented reality — ARKit — documents on the Mac because there's just no way to walk around with a motion-sensor aware camera live view on the Mac like you can with an iPad. But, if you started one on the iPad, you can absolutely edit it on the Mac. Everything else, including robot and drone support, basically all the third-party stuff is there or will be there in short order.
Using Catalyst is terrific, frankly, because the more high-profile skin Apple has in the Catalyst game the better it'll be for everyone and faster.
Putting Swift Playgrounds on the Mac period is even more terrific though, because it makes for a very direct bridge to Apple's full-on development environment, Xcode.
Not only can you move documents between Swift Playgrounds on iPad and Mac, you can cut and paste code from Swift Playgrounds on the Mac to Xcode and that strikes me as so similar in spirit to iMovie or GarageBand where you can learn all the fundamental skills you need to have a career using Final Cut Pro X or Logic Pro X at the very top of the video or music industries.
Because it's the Mac, you can even run Swift Playgrounds side-by-side with Xcode either as an intermediary step, a way to quickly, visually play around, or even for people who are already developers to more easily create their own Swift Playgrounds content for their kids or schools or the community at large.
Not to sound incredibly corny about it, but I'm gonna — it can help take anyone from their first tap to their first app.
Download Swift Playgrounds for Mac
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.