We released an update to the iOS app on 30 August 2023. This article summarises the changes, which focus on some small improvements to the ease of use.
In particular, previously it was necessary to choose and pair a micro:bit before sending a program. Now you can start by designing your program in MakeCode and then let the app guide you in setting up the link with a micro:bit:
- Go to the new Home screen
- Select Create Code and start designing your micro:bit program in MakeCode
- Test it with the MakeCode simulator
- Tap Download to send your code to the micro:bit
The app automatically interacts with MakeCode to ensure that the Bluetooth link between the iPad (or iPhone) and the micro:bit works smoothly. The processes of choosing a micro:bit, pairing with a micro:bit and sending code to a micro:bit, which formerly required frequent user control via the Home screen options, are now performed seamlessly through a series of screens which attempt to minimise user interaction. Should you still wish to inspect or control those processes yourself, the new Home screen still gives access to them.
Setting Bluetooth mode
The app accommodates the new triple press method of setting Bluetooth mode available on Version 2 micro:bits (although you may need to download to your Version 2 micro:bit once with the new app before you can use the new triple press method). It retains help prompts for the three button method (Buttons A + B + Reset) employed with Version 1 micro:bits.
Individual micro:bits are identified by the bar pattern that appears when Bluetooth mode is set. For verification, the app now frequently displays an image of the pattern and its corresponding ID code name for the currently selected micro:bit.
New Home screen
- The first thing you usually want to do is to create code, so this is the first option on the screen. Tapping this takes you to the MakeCode editor (which still requires Internet access).
- Several of the options have new descriptors to aid understanding of their purpose:
|New name||Old name|
|Manage Connections||Choose micro:bit|
|Sent to micro:bit||Flash|
|Bluetooth mode||Pairing mode|
My Programs screen
This replaces the former “Flash” screen. Its main use is for storing and handling files in the app which may be accessed and sent to a micro:bit whilst offline.
Each time you save a file in MakeCode, a copy of the file becomes stored in the app. The list of files shows in the grey panel. You can scroll the list and select a file highlighted in the middle.
You can do several things with the selected file:
Send it to the micro:bit
Show and edit it in MakeCode
Share it via iPad options
Delete it from the app
Selecting this option lets you retrieve data that has been logged during a data-logging session with the micro:bit. This is only available with Version 2 micro:bits.
Manage Connections screen
This was formerly named “Choose micro:bit”, but its functionality has not been changed. With the updated app it is mainly useful for inspecting the list of IDs for micro:bits previously paired with the iPad or iPhone. You can scroll the list to change the currently selected micro:bit. The Pair a micro:bit button may be used to pair with a new micro:bit or to force a repeat pairing with the currently selected micro:bit. In the case of a repeat pairing, you will be prompted to open the iPad Settings app to ‘Forget’ the current pairing.
Monitor and Control screen
The functionality of this screen is unchanged, but the protocol for ‘connecting’ with a micro:bit via Bluetooth has been updated to retain smooth operation.
Interplay between the iOS App and MakeCode
The updated app provides sophisticated support for Bluetooth communication between MakeCode and a range of different micro:bits. It has been designed to serve well in a classroom situation involving numerous iPads and micro:bits. You will be mainly aware of the app working when you see prompts to reset the micro:bit to Bluetooth mode, to perform pairing operations, to monitor the sending of code and to read error reports.
If you are in MakeCode and wish to return to the app Home screen, tap the back button in the top left hand corner.
When you have created code and are ready to send it to the micro:bit, tap the Download button in the bottom left hand corner.
At this stage the app prompts you to set the micro:bit in Bluetooth mode. If you are working with a Version 2 micro:bit you can use a triple press method with the Reset button (although you may need to download to your Version 2 micro:bit once with the new app before you can use the new triple press method). Otherwise you can use the 3 button method (Buttons A + B + Reset) which works with all micro:bits.
The app then performs several checks before sending the file to the micro:bit:
- Is the app currently set for the micro:bit in use?
- If not, you are prompted to enter the ID pattern.
- Is the micro:bit already paired?
- If not, you are prompted to perform the pairing process.
- In unusual cases, you may be prompted to go to the iPad Settings app to make the iPad ‘forget’ the micro:bit.
These prompts in the app show you how to enter Bluetooth mode.
Using the triple press method:
Using the 3 button method (Buttons A + B + Reset):
Entering a new pattern:
- you don’t have to tap all the squares
- just the highest one in each column
- the app fills in the rest to make 5 vertical bars.
The ID code name appears below the pattern.
See this video demonstration of the updated app: https://youtu.be/-VQs1JZOo9o.