Google's Incubator Launches New App That Can Teach You to Code for Free

Google employees have created a free app that will teach you the basics of JavaScript.

A group of Google employees have joined forces to create a new app called Grasshopper that teaches you the fundamentals of programming. Grasshopper looks good and works off the same principles like DuoLingo that just a few minutes a day on a task will steadily improve your skills. 

“Coding is becoming such an essential skill, and we want to make it possible for everyone to learn even when life gets busy,” the app’s About Us page explains. “We made Grasshopper to help folks like you get into coding in a fun and easy way.” 

Animations help you learn

Grasshopper uses animations and clever graphic design to walk you through simple challenges that teach you the basics of coding such as calling functions, using variables and objects. The free mobile app is available for both Android and iOS and is simple enough for almost anyone that is smartphone literate to try. 

By following the steps of taking on challenges and answering quizzes the app will teach you the basics of JavaScript. Laura Holmes, founder of Grasshopper says that the app is simply a series of challenges that get more difficult as the user's skill increases. 

JavaScript is the logical place to start

“Each coding puzzle has the student writing real JavaScript code using a custom built code editing environment. The student is given a challenge, and the user has to solve it using code, but it only takes a few taps to write out,” Holmes says.

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“Each time the student runs code, they’re given real-time feedback to help guide them towards solving the challenge. Many students have told us that this real-time feedback feels like a tutor since the feedback feels so tailored to the student’s current state.” 

In a similar way to other learning apps, Grasshopper rewards you for your achievements Giving you medals and prizes for using the app for several days in a row as well as for passing new levels. The curriculum will continue to grow in the coming months. 

The app gives people a chance to try their hand at programming and if they enjoy it, they can pursue further learning through other free online courses. The developers chose to teach JavaScript as it is the language used by over 70 percent of professional developers.

The app can be the launchpad to a new career

“We see Grasshopper as a launchpad to help introduce people to code. For one-third of our users, Grasshopper is the first time they’ve ever encountered coding,” says Holmes. “Many people think that coding isn’t for them or don’t have the access and time needed to consider it as a viable career path, and we want to help change that perception,” she adds. 

Area 120 retains talented staff

The app was born out of Google's Area 120 internal incubator a program that lets employees a chance to work full-time on their side projects. Google has been operating its Area 120 program for two years and it's created a range of cool apps since its inception. 

The best of these include Avr, an advertising format for VR; personal stylist Tailor; emoji messenger Supersonic; a job-matching service in Bangladesh, a booking tool called Appointments; and the YouTube com-watching app UpTime.

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