Use iPad to Program Robots with Swift Playgrounds

At WWDC 2016 we announced Swift Playgrounds, a brand new iPad app that teaches core coding concepts using Swift. In addition to the great content Apple provides with the app, we are excited to see what the community of Swift developers will build and share. We presented an in-depth session at WWDC entitled Introducing Swift Playgrounds that shows how to make your own `.playgroundbook` files for iPad, with multiple pages, always-running live views, and gorgeous cut scenes.

During this WWDC session we also demonstrated controlling a Sphero SPRK+ robot on stage, driven by Swift Playgrounds on iPad. Because code in Swift Playgrounds has access to the iOS SDK, including the CoreBluetooth framework, you can write programs that can completely control devices such as these robots. We've updated the playground we demonstrated at WWDC so you can see how it works, and even extend it further to teach your robot new tricks. The playground is included in this post and can be shared to an iPad running Swift Playgrounds using iCloud, AirDrop, email, and many other methods.

When you run the code on the first page of the playground you will see a touch interface to manually drive the Sphero robot around the room. Be careful, it can get going really fast! Tapping the Next Page glyph at the top of the playground moves to additional pages. Here you have access to a simple API that enables you to use code to control the robot, making it easy to write short programs that move the robot in a square, figure eight, or any other design you can dream up.

To run this playground, you will need the Swift Playgrounds app and iOS 10 running on an iPad with a 64-bit chip. You will also need a Sphero robot capable of Bluetooth LE, like the BB-8, or the new SPRK+. As long as the robot is nearby, the playground will find it and let you control it using Swift Playgrounds on your iPad.

You can download Swift Playgrounds from the App Store.

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