A few weeks ago we announced the release of Swift Playgrounds 3 in beta for developers who were enlisted in the test program. After just over 2 months of testing, the final version is now available to everyone, including 3 new challenges on photography and the use of the camera that incorporate new excellent features for Playgrounds books that teach us how to program.
Let’s take a look at the highlights of the news that you will find in this app, which not only puts at our disposal a programming environment for the Swift language in its version 5 with the iPad, fully functional and where we can create prototypes of everything (even augmented reality). It is also a learning environment with a series of playground books that teach us and guide us in the task of learning to program in a very intuitive, simple and all-spanish way.
What’s new in version 3
The main novelty of this new version are the contents itself. If the previous versions were almost at the service of the Learn to Schedule lessons, which right now are 3 with a level of difficulty that is progressively increased in each of them, now the total of programming lessons, challenges and content is such , that we could spend hours and hours every day testing and making our own modifications, versions, games, starting points…
-As a professional programmer, Swift Playgrounds is my tool for prototyping my new projects and testing their feasibility before creating a complete project. A tool that goes far beyond didactics
Obviously, not all new content has appeared in this new version, but new challenges have been included and the current ones updated to Swift 5 to make the most of creating an unprecedented set of content in programming-focused programs and Didactics.
When we access the Learn to Schedule section, we have the lessons 1, 2 and 3 already mentioned, but Apple has included in this version 3 new lessons for advanced level called «Lights, Camera, Program!» » » «Mount your camera» and «Eye-catching Photos». They introduce students to the use of frameworks or libraries, how to learn how to use their methods and properties, all focused on the iPad camera.
The first lesson, «Lights, camera, program! The first lesson, «Lights, camera, program! The camera, shows you how to take the photos, change the position and size of the viewer, save the photos on the reel and even create a photo plank.
The next one, «Mount your camera», goes a step further as a continuation of the previous lesson and uses the same components. But this time it introduces you to design concepts to help you not only create the functionality responsible for having the camera, but also take photos and show them. Here you can design your own camera with the most original figures or drawings, and then place your own photos on any template image: inside a football, an astronaut’s helmet or any drawing you want to make.
To do this, the lesson introduces the student to the concept of object inheritance to create their own camera class and customize it over the original class, add the components we want, customize them, and launch it to take photos. All in real code in Swift where you’ll create real classes with their initializers, method overload, and other code that would be used in a real app. Conveniently guided by the help of each page. You can include up to a zoom control for images captured with the iPad’s rear camera.
The last step «Eye-catching photos» is an ode to photo creativity, where you can retouch your photos however you want, put stickers, animations, emojis, borders, create custom frames… is the way to learn by programming how to customize your photos. And finally, as it couldn’t be otherwise, you’ll be able to share your creations with family and friends because it will also teach you how to use the controls that share the information outside of your program.
In all the lessons you have two tabs, one of the new features of the lesson, where you can work. One about the steps in the lesson and one on to customize the components. All with real code in Swift and as it would be done in the handling of images, coordinate spaces, rotation, opacity and other elements in a real app, so it’s a great way to get into the development of apps with Cocoa Touch but in a guided way , step by step.
And precisely there in one of the most interesting developments of these new lessons and this new version, because unlike «Learn to Program» where above the code zone we had the guide on how to solve the challenge of each page, in this new format of playground book, we have on the left all the code without being distracted and on the right a new popup of help, by paging, with even sections that are deployed as additional documentation, which guides us.
We have the option to read the guides and try it on our own, or access a deeper level of help where we are given small pieces of code (snippets) to drag and drop in order to help us in the commands and the steps to be performed. Without a doubt, a breakthrough that improves in many points the usability of the lessons.
New starting points
Another way to learn that this new version exploits much more than the previous ones is the creation of starting points. These are actually 100% Xcode compatible playgrounds on your Mac, so you can use them there too, try them on one side and pass them through iCloud to go from one device to the other.
Not only has Apple updated everyone to Swift 5, like the rest of the content, it has also created new ones like Sonic Creation. A playground with several pages where we can create spaces with objects (images) to which to associate sounds and create our own sound space with different possible backgrounds, images to put, where we can associate our own and create our room custom sound.
-Starting points are .playground files, like those used and created by Xcode, which allows us to use them on both systems and work with them freely, passing them from one system to another by iCloud or AirDrop-
Together with these we have the standard starting point of Xcode to start prototyping with all the functions of iOS implemented, to create free prototypes of apps and games with the real components that we use the developers, a starting point of camera (based in the new lessons) to create your own programs from 0 based on the iPad camera and its handling, sensors to use different elements of the iPad such as the light sensor or microphone and get events in games or apps… imagine a scream-controlled Flappy Bird: you’ve got it there.
An amazing app
The possibilities are triggered version by version and of course here we have an authentic suite with huge amounts of didactic and creative material, based on programming with Swift, which give for days, weeks or months of testing, versions, creation, learning, Assimilation of concepts… a spectacular work, sincerely, by Apple that has turned this app into one of the most complete in the App Store.
If you want to learn programming or have your children do it, you have a resource with unprecedented didactic value or equal in today’s market in Swift Playgrounds. There are other very good and multi-level solutions like Code Spark Academy, Tynker or the famous Scratch, but as a consultant in education for new technologies, like Swift Playgrounds there is nothing like complete product and full of materials with a level of care and care in every completely unbelievable detail.
If this is joined by the books in the Programming for All program, which can be used by any teacher or parent to teach their students or children to program with an exhaustive classroom activity guide, assessment rubrics and guidelines to solve different challenges, we can see that the Apple team and its Education department have done a job of exceptional quality and that we appreciate from here, encouraging them to move forward, give us even more options and take it to infinity (and beyond, that would be said).