I’ve recently seen someone ask this question in one of the Python courses that I had enrolled in, and it got me curious. Is it feasible to learn programming from a smartphone? What about writing code from a tablet? Is it at all possible to learn proficient coding without using a computer? Well, there are a lot of ways to answer this question.
First of all, a smartphone can be used to learn practically anything. You, me, and everyone else is already doing it. YouTube guides, online tutorials, or publishing blog posts from a smartphone. There is a lot that you can do and learn with a smartphone.
But, surely not programming?
The short answer? Yes, you can in fact learn programming using a smartphone. It will not be efficient, but you will be able to learn. In fact, you can even write functional programs, but doing this comes at a cost. And that cost is, that you’re locked into specific learning material.
Let me explain.
Writing code vs learning
If you want to write code on your smart device, all you have to do is download an application from the app store. Code editors for mobile devices have existed for years. And a lot of programmers use them. Some even provide the means to compile programs right from the mobile device itself. And while this is great news, it’s not the same as learning.
What good is a code editor if you don’t know any code, to begin with?
So, if you want to learn to code from a phone – your only real choice is to use interactive learning platforms. Codecademy Go is one such example – their mobile app is packed to the brim with educational code-related learning materials. And it will certainly test the limits of your problem-solving skills if you have never done any programming before.
If anything, you can at the very least learn the basics of a programming language. As for becoming a proficient developer – I wouldn’t count on it. And here is my reasoning for it.
Programming is more than writing code
Solving problems and learning code syntax from a smartphone can be a lot of fun. You should absolutely do it if you’re interested in learning. But, programming isn’t just about writing code. You also have to consider what you wish to create.
If your goal is to create a custom website, you will need access to external libraries. And in some cases, frameworks. You will also need a way to deploy your custom code to a website. And by this point, it starts to become tedious to manage it all from a phone.
Though, admittedly, not impossible. Ideally, you only use your phone to learn and master certain concepts and then transfer that knowledge back to your computer sessions.
But, let’s talk about the different websites and mobile apps which provide the means to learn at least the basics of programming from your phone.
Learning to code on a phone
These are hand-picked resources. In other words, I have tested them on my smartphone and can verify that they’re usable. Some of these platforms have provided mobile apps for easier access. For others, you will have to use them directly from the browser.
Sololearn is one of the most comprehensive learning platforms for solo learners. Their platform is entirely free, but you can always become a paying subscriber. The difference is that subscribers get access to more material. But, for getting started – there are no associated costs. All you have to do is decided on the language you wish to learn.
At the moment, their courses and learning materials cover over 25+ languages and topics.
Their mobile apps have a cumulative use of more than 15 million active users. This is great because you also get access to the Sololearn community. A place where you can discuss topics and find answers to questions, all connected directly from the application itself.
Mimo was built from the ground up to be a mobile-first learning platform. They have created a custom development environment that actually lets you create and publish websites. You can go as far as to build a custom portfolio of all the projects you have completed.
My personal favorite about Mimo is the learning roadmap. Every day you are able to pick a pre-built project and work on it directly. This includes building a homepage, customizing landing pages, and even adding eCommerce features to your site.
The Enki platform specializes in data and technical aspects of programming. If your goal is to work with data, this is a must-have platform to enroll in. And, although their focus is on highly technical aspects of coding – it is still great a great choice for beginners.
My first impression of Enki is that it aims to test your critical thinking skills. The bite-sized exercise and interactive lessons provide a deep sense of progression. The addition of quizzes and questions will put your learning abilities to the test. Not only can you write and practice code, but also verify that what you have learned works.
We can’t talk about learning to program without mentioning freeCodeCamp. It is the most popular project ever on GitHub. And it’s a stark testament to how powerful freeCodeCamp’s resources are for new coders. With thousands of free tutorials, it is the go-to platform for anyone wanting to become a developer or a software engineer.
Now, unlike some of our aforementioned platforms – freeCodeCamp does not have an official mobile application. However, it can be used in your smartphone’s browser. And, since 2019 – freeCodeCamp has been providing a smooth mobile experience. You can enroll in any course, and later continue your progress on a computer if you like.
As for the courses themselves, you will find thousands of hours of in-depth materials. You can learn front-end development, data visualization, responsive web design, and much more.
Exercism is a non-profit organization that provides more than 50 interactive courses. If you want to hone your programming skills and do it fast – give Exercism a try. One of the ways in which this platform differs from others is personal mentorship.
The platform actively invites other experienced developers to become mentors for novice learners. And, if you have never written code before – you will find plenty of developers willing to help you out.
However, one feature stands out more than others. And that’s progression. In order to progress to new lessons, you have to complete the one you’re currently on. It does wonders for productivity and sharpening your critical thinking.
There is no way to skip a lesson. So, in order to get past it, you have to find a solution.
And this approach does wonders for accelerating the pace at which you learn.
One day at a time
This list is by no means the only way to learn to code on your smartphone. However, it is quite a comprehensive selection of both apps and browser-based courses. It doesn’t matter if you are already a programmer or plan to become one. I think adding even one of the resources on this list to your daily routine is going to have a massive impact.
It’s more important to take things one day at a time. Trying to leap before you look can often cause problems with motivation and commitment. And, when it comes to coding – the first steps are typically the hardest ones.