Apple Inc. planned to release a free coding education app on Tuesday that it developed with middle-school students in mind, in the latest salvo among technology companies to gain share in the education market and to nurture early product loyalty among children.
Apple’s app, called Swift Playgrounds, introduces basic computer programming concepts, such as sequencing logic, by asking students to use word commands to move cartoon avatars through a fanciful, animated world. Unlike some children’s apps, which employ drag-and-drop blocks to teach coding, the Apple program uses Swift, a professional programming language that the company introduced in 2014.
The introduction of Apple’s app coincides with a larger Silicon Valley campaign to press public schools to teach coding. Tech executives have argued that such training could help address socioeconomic differences among students, by providing them with marketable job skills.
The Apple coding app is free, but it requires an iPad, the company’s tablet computer, which has declining sales, and which many schools and families may not be able to afford.