Swift Playgrounds Will Soon Be Able to Program and Control Robots, Drones, and Toys

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Apr 12, 2001
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Apple today announced that Swift Playgrounds, its iPad app aimed at making learning how to code interactive and fun, will be able to program and control robots, drones, musical instruments, and other toys when the latest version of the app is released at its Worldwide Developers Conference next week.


Swift Playgrounds version 1.5, set to be released on June 5, will support several popular Bluetooth-enabled devices, including LEGO's MINDSTORMS Education EV3 robot, Sphero's SPRK+ robotic ball and BB-8 droid, UBTECH's Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit, Dash by Wonder Workshop, Parrot drones, and other toys.
"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."
Apple invited a small group of reporters to its Cupertino headquarters to demo the functionality, including Engadget, which put together a brief video showing off the programmable toys in action.


Swift Playgrounds requires no coding knowledge to begin with. Kids and adults alike learn how to code by completing a collection of coding lessons and challenges, and the ability to program and control robots, drones, and musical instruments will make it all the more fun. The app uses Apple's own programming language, Swift.

Swift Playgrounds is a free download on the App Store [Direct Link] for all iPad Air and iPad Pro models, and iPad mini 2 or newer.

Article Link: Swift Playgrounds Will Soon Be Able to Program and Control Robots, Drones, and Toys
 

Zirel

Suspended
Jul 24, 2015
2,196
3,008
Yeah! That's the Apple I like.

Focus on creating the actual content, not the menial extra work associated with using computers.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
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Central U.S.
Sounds like this got cut from the presentation at the last minute because they kept going over on time—that's exciting news! My daughter is still a toddler but I'm definitely going to teach her to code and apps like this are going to be super useful. I think in the future knowing a programming language will just be like knowing any other language and maybe even necessary for most jobs.
 

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
21,888
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I wonder if this is a new thing Apple is doing PR wise or if this had to be cut time wise so they announced it early.
 

wizard

macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
3,854
571
Its really cool to have a 1st party Apple app to do this.
Again, it seems like they could be making time for certain other announcements at WWDC.
This is the first thing i thought, if they are announcing now, apple must have a pretty full WWDC.

Given that i do wish that Apple would pull head from behind and open up communications with all sorts of micro controllers. Being able to use iPad to communicate, with an Arduino for example, would be fantastic and reallly allow Apple to focus on iPad as an educational tool. Right now they appear to be focused on communicating with expensive toys.
 

BaccaBossMC

macrumors regular
Jul 8, 2016
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NC, USA
I noted that there was an 'education' tag on the EV3. Is there a special version, or is it talking about the kit in general and how its designed for education?
 

wizard

macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
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I wonder if this is a new thing Apple is doing PR wise or if this had to be cut time wise so they announced it early.
I suspect that they ran out of time thus the early announcement. I kinda wish that there was more details because this could be huge or anither example of Apple doing something half baked. If they really wanted to promote education they would be targetting Arduino, Teensy, raspberry PI, and other micro controller boards. Yeah i know Raspberry PI straddles the boundry between micro controller and system boards. In any event the goal here is to support low cost and highly popular boards that are well accepted in the maker community.

If Apple is only focused on the hardware listed in this article i will be very disappointed. IPad has so much potential in this area that it is very frustrating dealling with Apples attitude that they have right now with respect to free communications with external devices.
 

recoil80

macrumors 68040
Jul 16, 2014
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Something that would get huge cheers from the crowd on Monday would be Xcode for iPad. I wonder if that will ever happen.
There is Swift playground available on the app store for iPad and that's ok for learning and even for coding if you want to test some classes you're writing. But porting xcode on the iPad would be a huge effort for Apple, and I doubt the majority of developers would use it on a tablet. It would be a nightmare for me, I code most of the time on my iMac because of the screen size, I'd never code on a display so small.
 

DNichter

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Apr 27, 2015
9,028
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Philadelphia, PA
I wonder if this is a new thing Apple is doing PR wise or if this had to be cut time wise so they announced it early.
I am thinking they do not have much time to focus on some of these minor announcements so they are getting them out of the way now, while also drumming up some publicity prior to the event.
 
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jdillings

macrumors 68000
Jun 21, 2015
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Apple should spend less time on Swift Playgrounds and more time on fixing the garbage Music app
 

wizard

macrumors 68040
May 29, 2003
3,854
571
Something that would get huge cheers from the crowd on Monday would be Xcode for iPad. I wonder if that will ever happen.
I could see Playgrounds morphing into an app for developing iPad scripts.

As for a complete development system well that is another matter. IPad has or will have the performance to run such apps, playgrounds pretty much proves that.

I just reread the article for the second time and frankly I'm disappointed that they are apparently focused on Blue Tooth connected devices. This kinda tells me that they aren't doing anything to free up the USB port for developers. So while this initiative is pretty cool i really don't think Apples "gets it". That is they don't see the huge potential iPad has in the maker community. The reality is a lot of cool and very educational stuff happens on very low end controllers.
 

Msivyparrot

macrumors regular
Apr 5, 2017
184
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South Africa
Sucks that no one at Apple Inc has the skill to code Swift to work on a mac laptop!! I mean really there is not a single person on this planet that can port to Mac OS?? Proves just how understaffed or under qualified staff at Apple really are...
 
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keysofanxiety

macrumors G3
Nov 23, 2011
9,534
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Sucks that no one at Apple Inc has the skill to code Swift to work on a mac laptop!! I mean really there is not a single person on this planet that can port to Mac OS?? Proves just how understaffed or under qualified staff at Apple really are...
Huh? Swift is used on macOS. And Swift can be used to write macOS apps...?
 
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