by Jason Snell
Swift Playgrounds 4 arrives, including App Store submission
Promised at WWDC, a new version of Swift Playgrounds arrived this week, with its most notable feature addition being support for submitting projects to the App Store. John Voorhees of MacStories provides a good overview:
Starting a coding project from Playgrounds isn’t new either. However, now, you can take that project, submit it to the App Store and sell it once the app clears the App Review process – all from an iPad. That’s a very big deal because it’s the first time an app can be created end-to-end on the same device that runs it. Swift Playgrounds can be used to create apps with iOS and iPadOS 15.2 that run on iPhones, iPads, and M1 Macs, but you cannot create Apple Watch apps or Mac apps that aren’t built with iOS or iPadOS.
Other impressive features in Playgrounds include support for including public swiftpm packages. And according to developer Steve Troughton-Smith, the new version is much more pleasant to use.
Keep in mind, though, that Swift Playgrounds only supports building iOS apps that use Swift and SwiftUI. Xcode on the Mac can do all that, plus building all sorts of other stuff in many other languages. Troughton-Smith also points out that you can’t build apps with in-app purchases using Swift Playgrounds.
It may be that Swift Playgrounds just passes the threshold of making the iPad, at last, a computer that can be used to develop software for itself. That argument might win a bar bet, but the truth remains that Swift Playgrounds is much more focused on teaching people how to build apps in Swift, and I’d guess that most of the apps submitted to the App Store from within Playgrounds will be by students or other young people who are experimenting with the process, not by grizzled developers.
And that’s just fine. Imagine a programming class that ends with every student’s app being submitted to the App Store. And if the app is rejected, that’ll just be an extra learning experience.