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Apple wants iOS to be the first language your child learns

A new game will help kids, and everyone else, learn how to code. Apple is launching Swift Playgrounds for iPad later this year, free in the App Store.

In this game players can control a character named Byte by using real Swift code. Concepts like code fencing and loops are introduced as game mechanics to solve puzzles. Players learn more real coding skills as they progress through the game, as puzzles require increasingly complex movements in order to be solved. There’s also a sandbox mode, where users can create environments using code.

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A demo by Cheryl Thomas. VP, Software Engineering Operations at Apple, showed off the main game. Players use Swift code to order Byte to do things like step forward and eat gems. Thomas also showed off a physics environment full of emoji, and showed how users can adjust the physics of the world and other properties by adjusting the code.

The idea here is for would-be programmers to learn Swift before any other language, as Apple CEO Tim Cook made clear.

“Swift is powerful, but it’s also simple and approachable, so it can be your very first programming language,” said Cook.

Apple has been working hard to promote Swift, going so far as to open source the programming language last year. The idea, no doubt, it to shore up Apple’s developer base.

The game fits in the same vein. The more developers who speak Swift “natively,” the more developers who think of Apple’s platforms first. Releasing the application on iPad helps make it accessible, potentially reaching people who otherwise wouldn’t consider learning to code.

“Because Swift is so easy to learn, it has the potential to bring many more people into coding,” said Cook.

Only time will tell how effective this new game is at teaching non-programmers to create in Swift.