From Candy Crush Saga to Instagram, developing mobile applications has never been more potentially lucrative. But how about learning to code on a smartphone?

That's the goal of Codecademy: Hour of Code, an iPhone app released this week by the founders of US education startup Codecademy, whose website teaches people to code in languages including JavaScript, HTML/CSS, Python and Ruby.

The company's first mobile app is starting with a simpler goal: to help iPhone owners “learn the basics of coding in under one hour” through a set of quick demonstrations and exercises designed to be completed in short bursts throughout the day.


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“Our app gets you started by introducing you to the basic concepts behind the apps on your phone and the websites you visit. You'll learn to understand the basic structure of code when you see it,” explains its App Store listing.

“Use your phone for what it's good for – quick, fun exercises on the go. Program when you get home and stay fresh by reviewing on the go.”

Codecademy was founded in 2011 by Zach Sims and Ryan Bubinski, and has since raised $12.5m of funding to fuel its ambitions of demystifying programming. More than 450,000 signed up for online courses as part of the company's Code Year initiative in 2012, with more than 60% of its users now located outside the US.

“Codecademy was originally built for someone like me to learn how to code. Now, we want to help provide an easy way for people to get the programming skills they need to learn skills, start businesses, and find new jobs,” Sims told The Guardian in October this year.

“We're all looking to make learning as interactive and fun as possible and to continue helping our users change the world.┬áMost other programming instruction companies teach by using videos or text-based approaches. We think the best way to learn how to code is to learn by doing – to actually code.”

At the time of writing, Hour of Code has not been released for other smartphones, notably Android. It is possible Codecademy was waiting for the iPhone version to be approved by Apple before launching on Android though – an increasingly familiar pattern for smartphone apps.

Codecademy isn't the first company to explore mobile apps as a way to teach people to program. A number of startups have launched apps in 2012 and 2013 to introduce children to coding, including Hakitzu Elite: Robot Hackers, Hopscotch, Light-bot, Kodable and Move the Turtle.

Another US startup, Play-i, has just raised $1.4m through a crowdfunding campaign on its website to launch two consumer robots, Bo and Yana, which children will learn to control by coding in their companion iOS and Android apps.