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Google’s Grasshopper app teaches you how to code

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A bunch of Google employees participating in the company’s Area 120 internal incubator have launched Grasshopper, a free mobile app for Android and iOS that teaches you the basics of programming.

It’s beautifully designed and is suitable for just about anyone who can be trusted to use a phone on their own. By solving simple challenges and answering quiz questions, you’ll soon get the hang of basic JavaScript.

The gamified app, named after programming pioneer Grace Hopper, currently includes three sets of lessons, which cover the fundamentals of coding (calling functions, using variables and objects, and so on), as well as animations. The idea is to spend a few minutes a day with it, so you can have the app remind you to hop in daily and take on a few challenges.

When you’re done with the content in Grasshopper, you can move on to recommended Coursera classes to learn more about JavaScript, HTML, CSS, algorithms, and web design for a fee, or simply muck around in Grashopper’s online playground and make your own JS animations. Naturally, you can also explore alternatives for learning to code, such as the courses offered by edX and FreeCodeCamp.

I’ve been meaning to get back to coding for a while now, having ditched my chops when I graduated from high school. The app is fun and easy enough to get through a few challenges when you’re on a commute, and feels like a good alternative to scrolling through social media feeds mindlessly.

Grasshopper is the latest product to emerge from Area 120, which gives Google employees a chance to work full-time on their side projects and bring them to life. It’s previously seen launches like Uptime, which lets you watch YouTube videos in sync with friends elsewhere in the world, and Supersonic, a messaging app for emoji lovers.