Apple expanding Swift Playgrounds to teach coding for robots, drones and musical instruments

In advance of next week’s Worldwide Developers Conference, Apple has announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will be expanded to teach kids to code using robots, drones, and musical instruments. Apple has already been working behind the scenes with several companies, including Lego Mindstorms Education EV3, Sphere SPRK+, Parrot, and others, to enable Bluetooth-enabled robots to be connected and interfaced with in the Swift Playgrounds app. The new features are expected to arrive in a version 1.5 update to be released on the App Store next Monday.

“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,” said Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering. “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.”

Users of Swift Playgrounds will be able to command robotic LEGO creatures, Sphero robotic balls, Parrot’s Mambo, Airborne and Rolling Spider drones, UBTECH’s Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit, and Wonder Workshop’s Dash Robot by writing code to control motors, read device sensors, perform aerial acrobatics, and walk, roll, wave, and dance, depending on the device’s capabilities. The new version will also support the Skoog tactile cube so that kids can code apps that allow them to explore music creation with Swift code. Swift Playgrounds was first unveiled at last year’s WWDC event, and released in the fall with iOS 10 with the goal of teaching kids how to code in Apple’s newest programming language through fun and interactive coding tutorials.

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