Apple’s new Swift Playgrounds 1.5 includes controls for robots and drones


When Apple
released Swift Playgrounds
 in 2016, it opened the
world of coding to kids (and adults) who thought just the
idea of creating an app was intimidating. Swift
Playgrounds makes codes approachable and fun to learn,
combining tutorials, a touch interface, and “challenges” on an
iPad that anyone can use for free.

While Swift Playgrounds can be a very satisfying experience
that results in your very own app, technology moves
forward—we’re now in a world where drones and robots are
prevalent. With that in mind, Apple on Wednesday announced
Swift Playgrounds version 1.5, which includes tools that teach
students how to control drones and robots over Bluetooth using
an iPad.

Jimu Robot MeeBot KitRoman
Swift Playgrounds 1.5 gives users the ability
to program dance moves based on beats per minute with Ubtech’s
Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit.

The new program gives teachers access to Swift Playgrounds
curriculum that works with a number of robots and drones,
including products from Lego, Parrot, Sphero, Ubtech Robotics,
and Wonder Workshop. Since Swift is an open-source language,
Apple says that makes it easy for other companies to jump on
the bandwagon.

The addition of drone and robot support expands Swift
Playgrounds’ content library, and the direct results
experienced by students can be satisfying and help maintain
interest in coding. “Kids know the difference between writing
something that’s real and writing something that’s not real,”
said Cheryl Thomas, Apple VP of Engineering, Swift Playgrounds,
during a press event.

Starting on June 5 (the first day of Apple’s 2017 Worldwide
Developers Conference), educators will be able to access the
new Swift Playgrounds 1.5 as a free download in the App Store.
The app requires iOS 10 or later, and can run on all iPad Air
and iPad Pro models, as well as the iPad mini 2. Support is
provided through Apple’s Education program, which
includes Professional Learning Specialists to help with the

Parrot droneRoman
Parrot drones can be programmed with Swift
Playgrounds 1.5 to follow a flight pattern and perform tricks.

Since its introduction in 2014, Swift has been embraced by
software developers. Apple said that over 250,000 apps have
been created using Swift. The company is also excited by Swift
Playgrounds; at the version 1.5 event, Apple representatives
said the over a million unique users have used the learning

The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 announcement comes about a week after

Apple released
App Development with Swift, a year-long
curriculum for educators interested in teaching Swift software
development. The curriculum is available for free in the iTunes Store.

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