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Swift Playgrounds App – for me and the kids too!

Apple's Swift Playgrounds app makes learning how to code fun, interactive and easy.

Launched at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) earlier this month, the Swift Playgrounds app isn’t just targeted for kids, it’s for anyone who want to learn to code at any age.  

Swift is a programing language that Apple released a couple of years back specifically for iOS, OS X, watchOS, and tvOS apps. Swift is not only powerful it’s also simple, making it a great programming language to learn how to code with. This approach has really helped encourage and grow a younger generation of coders. It’s a great example of tech companies stepping in to the education arena to help build these skills, especially since a 2015 Google-Gallup study found that currently, only one in four schools offer computer programming or coding classes. 


What’s so great about Swift Playgrounds? It’s free to start, and anyone who uses it will get the basics of coding with Apple’s Swift programming language. It’s not childish, doesn’t appear to be too basic, and it’s the first step in understanding how the apps we use everyday really work, before giving us the skills to make them ourselves.

The Swift Playground app comes with a series of lessons where users get to write code that guides characters through a 3D world solving puzzles. This takes the fundamentals of Swift that help the student through lessons and onto more advanced concepts. And the fundamentals of Swift are not unique to Swift alone. They are relatable to all programming languages.

For example:

  • Commands
  • Functions
  • Parameters
  • Loops
  • Conditional statements
  • Variables
  • Operators
  • Types
  • Initialization


And sure, these do change from programming language to another but the core logic of each is the same across all platforms, so this is really about grasping and internalizing basic coding concepts.

This brings me to why I found this so neat. When I was in art school, I took a class called Programming Logic. This class didn’t have any programing or coding involved in it, its sole purpose was to get the student to understand programming logic. It went through all the fundamentals and this class at that moment in my life was the worst thing ever. I had the hardest time grasping anything. And I thought for sure that my life as a web developer was over before it had even had a chance to get started.

The instructor however was awesome. He saw the struggles three of us were having and changed his whole teaching plan up to help us. He came back to class with flow charts, and visuals with loads of colors, even graph paper, just all kinds of neat little tools and tricks for us to use to engage and make sense of the mind-numbing book. This changed everything for me. And Swift Playgrounds reminds me of those modified lessons that some dedicated instructor went home and came up with. Interactive, fun graphics, puzzles, all to go along the code you create. All on an iPad.

Remember, even though this code is designed to be easily approached, it is really powerful, so you’re going to be learning something you could really put to use. I wish something like this was around when I started programming. That really doesn’t matter though, because today is now and right now I can find an excuse to get an iPad, get the Swift playgrounds app learn some Swift and create some awesome apps! I hope you’ll try it too! 

Sometimes the best way to learn is to explore on your own, and Swift Playgrounds is a great place to let your imagination run wild.

Gregory Yanez

With a degree in interactive media and computer science, Greg’s a technological wizard who does more than get his ratio of salsa to guacamole right…he knows how to build a gorgeous website with a CMS so clean it’ll bring tears to your eyes.