Almost everyone has an idea for a mobile app or two but not everyone has the skills to build a usable iPhone application from start to finish. Last fall Apple released Swift Playgrounds, an iPad application that was intended to teach the programming language Swift to the masses, but for many users the path from the basic program language learning to a full blown, usable app was unclear.
At the same time, Apple started the Everybody Can Code program, a K-12 curriculum to teach the next generation the coding skills that will be necessary in future job markets. However, neither of these programs have been a great fit for adults who want to make their iOS app development dreams come true.
Now, Apple is launching a new program intended for college-level learners, extending Apple’s learning courses from kindergarten age and adulthood. This new course, called Apple App Development Curriculum, is available for free through iBooks. It includes everything one needs to learn to code with Swift and build a mobile application from start to finish. “We couldn’t be happier about rolling this out and getting it under way,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO.
A couple of years ago, Cook was quoted to have said that he believes everyone must learn to code like “a required course for social studies, English, and mathematics in every public-school curriculum.” But until recently the aim never seemed to reach beyond required public education for children and into elective education or adults.
But the Apple App Development Curriculum, according to Cook, is “designed for both community college and high school students who want to learn how to develop apps and pursue careers in what is the fastest growing job segment in the economy.”
And how the application economy is growing! According to App Annie, the leading analyzers for app trends, mobile applications netted about $51 billion in 2016 and are predicted to revenue over $100 billion by 2020. With an increase like that, almost doubled, it can also be expected that the demand for skilled application developers and coders will also increase.
“One benefit of [Apple’s App Development Curriculum] is that if you look at the 2 million Jobs we’ve created in the economy, about three-quarters of those, give or take are in app development,” said Cook, “that segment of economy has really grown leaps and bounds since the introduction of the App Store in 2008.”
One of the goals for Apple is to help anyone who wishes to be a developer after completing the year-long course, which was created and built by Apple engineers and teachers from Apple’s own platform engineering group.
Although the course is targeted towards high school students and new college students, Cook thinks anyone can benefit from the curriculum download. He says that system could be for anyone “mid-career or be looking to make a career change, or even some just looking to learn something new or a new hobby.”
The training course of almost 180 hours comes complete with exercises, instructions, lesson plans, and presentations to provide for students to go through the basic building blocks of Swift and end up with an actual working mobile application. It also includes some basic architectural development for scaling up apps, should your app suddenly need to function under large demand.
Although this program was released near to Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference, the two events are not related. Instead, the release is timed so that teachers and “community colleges could begin communicating this to prospective students” in time for the fall 2017 semester.
So far, seven community college systems, with 500 million pupils, have taken on Apple’s developers curriculum, and several are teaching it for summer courses already.
Dr. Madeline Burillo, president of one of the community colleges offering Apple’s courses Houston Community College’s (HCC) Southwest College, has been so excited about the offering, she’s even enrolled herself. “The key factor to Swift is that it is much more intuitive, making it easier for people to learn,” she announced in a written statement.
HCC Chancellor Dr. Cesar Maldonado added, “This partnership is one that will benefit our community by teaching students a valuable skill and it will benefit Apple by providing future developers who are trained specifically for the needs of the iOS community.”
This focus on community college is a purposeful one on Apple’s part. Recent studies and surveys have stated that 44 percent of the 6.3 million students enrolled in two-year public colleges are low-income students and overwhelmingly serve minorities and women. With Apple providing these developer tools and education it hopes to be a powerful engine of economic renewal in these communities.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has applauded Apple’s intentions with their new curriculum. “Apple’s investment in our community with the launch of the app development curriculum will tap into the creativity of our students, inspire new possibilities, and foster our culture of technological transformation.”
Cook is quick is to remind that education has long been a part Apple’s mission. “We’re excited about where it could lead and how many it can help in this new economy,” he said. At the same time, the announcement of this program follows fast on the heels of another Apple announcement concerning a $1 billion investment in U.S. manufacturing. With the App Development Curriculum focused on U.S. colleges, one might assume that Apple is dipping a toe in the political arena, showing the President Trump administration that it can effect American job growth.
But Tim Cook is quick to dismiss this position. “We began working on Swift many years ago. It spanned multiple administrations. No, this isn’t related to anything to do with politics,” he said. However, he did say that Apple’s impact in manufacturing is a “ripple in the pond” and that an equal or larger “ripple in the pond for the mobile app area” could mirror it. Overall, the new App Development Curriculum from Apple is one step in a larger more long-term plan that CEO Tim Cook isn’t quite ready to reveal. “It’s sort of the next step of a long plan for us with Swift and trying to help prepare people for the new economy,” he said.
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