The Swift-Robots Edition Friday, June 2, 2017

Swift Playgrounds Expands Coding Education To New Devices, by Apple

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. [...] 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.

Apple’s Swift Playgrounds Coding App Now Supports Robots, Drones, And Toys, by Nick Statt, The Verge

In a demo at the iPhone maker’s Cupertino office, a LEGO representative broke down exactly how a Mindstorms EV3 kit can work with Playgrounds, connecting any number of robot-controlling modules to an iPad via Bluetooth. From there, you can see real-time data provided by the robots’ actuators, motors, and sensors, as well as program commands for fleshed out LEGO bots to receive and carry out. In preparation for the partnership, LEGO says it’s also designed 10 hours of lessons specifically for the Playgrounds app for kids to run through with a Mindstorms kit.

A Year Of Teaching Swift, by Fraser Speirs

We are nearly at the end of the school year here in Scotland and I wanted to take some time to reflect on the experience of teaching the Computer Science curriculum this year using Swift Playgrounds and Apple's Learn to Code curriculum.

We'll Always Have Paris

Read Apple CEO Tim Cook's Email To Employees About Trump Pulling Out Of The Paris Accord, by John Paczkowski, BuzzFeed

"I know many of you share my disappointment with the White House’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement. I spoke with President Trump on Tuesday and tried to persuade him to keep the U.S. in the agreement. But it wasn’t enough."

"Climate change is real and we all share a responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today’s developments will have no impact on Apple’s efforts to protect the environment. We power nearly all of our operations with renewable energy, which we believe is an example of something that’s good for our planet and makes good business sense as well."

Twitter Users Call On Tim Cook To Follow Elon Musk’s Example And Leave President’s Council, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

Twitter users are calling on Tim Cook to leave the President’s Council in protest at Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Apple Orchard

Apple Park’s Tree Whisperer, by Steven Levy, Backchannel

But at this first meeting in 2010, Muffly learned that he and Steve Jobs shared a love of trees, and in particular a passion for the foliage native to the pre-Silicon Valley landscape, before big tech companies showed up and changed it. The encounter would lead to Muffly becoming the senior arborist at Apple, Inc., in charge of choosing, locating and planting the 9,000 trees that justify Apple’s choice to call its 175-acre campus a park — and in making Apple Park a leaf-and-blossom tribute to the CEO who designed it but would not live to see it built. Or planted.


Within 20 minutes of meeting, it was clear that the arborist and the technologist were on the same wavelength about trees. Jobs told Muffly that he wanted to create a microcosm of old Silicon Valley, a landscape reenactment of the days when the cradle of digital disruption had more fruit trees than engineers. In one sense, the building would be an ecological preservation project; in another sense, it’d be a roman a clef written in soil, bark, and blossom. Muffly, who had been sensitive to the native growth of the region for years, got it immediately. “That’s what I’ve been doing — planting fruit trees, oak trees,” he said.


Hands On With Halide, A New Gesture-based iPhone Camera App, by Jackie Dove, DPReview

Halide aims to be the ideal, elegant middle ground between 'too simple' and 'airplane cockpit,' peacefully co-existing with the iPhone's default Camera app and perhaps occupying at least some of the same muscle memory space.


Avoiding Third-Party UI Libraries, by Arek Holko

As it’s often the case in programming, it’s hard to provide general rules. We have to consider every chunk of code we add to our codebase on a piece-by-piece basis. From my personal experience, most uses of third-party UI code boil down to exchanging smaller flexibility for some time gain.

We leverage ready-made code to ship our current release faster. Sooner or later, though, we hit the limits of the library and stand before a hard decision: what to do next?


Apple Begins Decorating McEnery Convention Center In San Jose Ahead Of WWDC, by Chance Miller, 9to5Mac

The signage hung on the outside resembles the initial WWDC announcement, depicting an overhead shot if people in colorful outfits.

Can You Spell The Winning Words From A Century Of Scripps National Spelling Bees?, by Thu-Huong Ha, Quartz

According to the rules, if a competitor is unfamiliar with a word, he or she may ask for more information, including the definition, the language of origin, and other pronunciations. Close memorized 30,000 words to prepare for her moment in the spotlight, and she says she was still only familiar with about three-quarters of the words that she faced in competition.

Below are ten of the winning words from previous Scripps bees, and the reason why spelling them is such a feat.

Bottom of the Page

Sometimes I do wonder... do I really want smart speakers sitting everywhere in my home? Well, sure, it is good to have something that can play music or podcasts or audiobooks that will sound much better than what the iPhone can do. And, sure, it will be good that these speakers can answer my queries, whenever I want to know what is the weather like in Ang Mo Kio.

Oh, since the speakers are already taking up space on the tables and cupboards and counter-tops, maybe we can also put a screen besides the speaker. When I query the speaker about the weather in Ang Mo Kio, the speaker can also show me the rain radar map of Ang Mo Kio, so that I know that if my lunch plan is flexible, I can choose to go to neighboring Serangoon for my meal instead if I don't want to bring an umbrella.

Oh, since the speakers are going to paired with screens, it should also run some form of tvOS so that I can catch up on the latest episode of House of Cards. And make sure the screen is multi-touch-able, so that I can scroll through the recipes that I ask for (instead of shouting "next page", "next page", "next page", "previous page"), and pinch-to-zoom when I can't see the pictures of the ingredients clearly.

Oh, and since the speakers are going into my bedroom too, it should also run apps like Sleep Tracker (listening to my snoring) or Alarm Clock that detects when is a good time to wake me up in the morning based on my REM cycles. And thus it should have some processing and storage smarts internally, so that the alarm clock doesn't fail just because the internet went away in the middle of the night.

Oh, and since we should consider accessibilities issues, for people who don't have a voice to command the speaker, maybe customers can, optionally, bring their own keyboard to the speaker?

And we shall call this.... iPad nano? iPod Speak & Touch? Siri Hi-Fi?


Or maybe just a little smart speaker will be good enough? Do we care about good enough?


Thanks for reading.