Apple’s Swift Playgrounds expands coding education to robots, drones and musical instruments

Apple today announced that Swift Playgrounds, its educational coding app for iPad, will offer an exciting new way to learn to code using robots, drones and musical instruments. Swift Playgrounds is perfect for students and beginners learning to code with Swift, Apple’s powerful and intuitive programming language for building world-class apps. Apple is working with leading device makers to make it easy to connect to Bluetooth-enabled robots within the Swift Playgrounds app, allowing kids to program and control popular devices, including LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3, the Sphero SPRK+, Parrot drones and more. The Swift Playgrounds 1.5 update will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5.

“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 Hair Force One Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, in a statement. “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.”

“Today we’re combining efforts with Apple to provide even more students around the world with the opportunity to learn how to code,” said Esben Stærk Jørgensen, president, LEGO Education, in a statement. “We’re pairing the familiar LEGO bricks and our hands-on approach to playful learning found in LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 with Swift Playgrounds’ powerful learning platform so now anyone can program their LEGO MINDSTORMS creation with real Swift code.”

Apple's Swift Playgrounds for iPad
Apple’s Swift Playgrounds for iPad

With Swift Playgrounds, anyone can program and control these popular devices from within the app:

• LEGO MINDSTORMS Education EV3 are incredibly popular in schools around the world and give students the power to explore coding through real-life problem solving as they create and command their own robotic LEGO creatures, vehicles, machines and inventions. With Swift Playgrounds kids can code and interact with their creations’ motors and sensors.

• Sphero SPRK+, a popular robotic ball, rolls, turns, accelerates and changes colors. Sensors provide feedback when Sphero hits an obstacle, and all of it can be controlled with Swift code.

• Parrot’s Mambo, Airborne and Rolling Spider drones can take off, land, turn and perform aerial figures like flips, all under the control of code users create.

• UBTECH’s Jimu Robot MeeBot Kit lets kids program their buildable robot to walk, wave and dance.

• Dash by Wonder Workshop is an exciting, hands-on learning robot for students, designed to teach the fundamentals of coding, creative problem solving and computational thinking.

Skoog is a tactile cube that enables children of all abilities to have fun exploring, creating and playing music with Swift code.

Swift Playgrounds 1.5 with support for third-party devices will be available as a free download on the App Store beginning Monday, June 5. Swift Playgrounds is compatible with all iPad Air and iPad Pro models and iPad mini 2 and later running iOS 10 or later. For more information, visit:

MacDailyNews Take: Meaning smart schools won’t be handicapping their students with Chromebook test-taking machines, but equipping them for the future with iPads and Swift.

Combined with the fact that Apple’s global developer App Store earnings have now topped $70 billion, even mediocre educators and public education administrators should be able to figure it out now.

Apple announces global developer App Store earnings top $70 billion – June 1, 2017
Swift Playgrounds now available in five additional languages – March 21, 2017
Apple unveils new 9.7-inch iPad starting at new low price of just $329 – March 21, 2017


  1. Sounds great, but in the USA, education budgets are very strapped and it’s only getting worse with the current administration. With the proliferation of Google Docs throughout school districts, schools will continue to opt for the cheaper alternative of Chromebooks.

      1. Or use the Chromebooks already in many students’ hands and learn development for many other languages beyond Swift on web based development environments.

    1. Your statement “…it’s only getting worse with the current administration…” merely shows your political party affiliation, but is not factual as the current U.S. budget is one put into place by the Obama administration. Also, the U.S. spends more money per student than any other first world country yet continues to place in the mid-forties position in standardized test scores. More money clearly does NOT produce better results in education. You also neglect to offer any potential solutions to address the true issues with the U.S. education system.

      A good starting point for someone such as yourself would be to view the documentary Waiting for Superman
      (2010). It is surprisingly not political in nature (it was produced and directed by the same person who directed An Inconvenient Truth); it does, however, show that it is nearly impossible for any political candidate regardless of party to even attempt to confront the teacher’s unions due to the numbers in their vitriolic voting bloc. Therefore, it is quite probable that no meaningful change will ever be made to the rapidly disintegrating U.S. public education system. The net effect is an accelerating downward spiral that fails students across the entire country, with a disproportionate number of low-income students affected.

      As for the origins of the current mess we’re in, ask yourself the following questions and then answer truthfully — based on your own research.

      • Which political party instituted social promotion and still supports it?

      • Which political party supports the teacher’s unions, and their absolute refusal to get rid of those teachers who are chronically underperforming in their position?

      • Which political party began systematically lowering in the 1970s the minimum passing/acceptable scores on standardized tests so that certain minority groups could be given a “passing grade”?

      I’ve most likely written enough to inflame both conservatives and liberals — so be it. The present situation with the U.S. education is dire, and we should be working together to solve this problem by removing ourselves from the current state of denial in which so many of us and our legislators reside.

  2. I see this being incredibly fun! This is a whole new enablement of the user to individualize how they use technology.

    And yes teachers, this requires a whole new level of student supervision. *shiver* Yet another opportunity to teach personal responsibility.

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