Apple releases programming course for college students

Apple releases programming course for college students



May 24, 2017

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks as he attends the Economic Summit during the China Development Forum in Beijing in March. Photo: Associated Press

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks as he attends the Economic Summit during the China Development Forum in Beijing in March.

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks as he attends the Economic Summit during…

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Apple on Wednesday released a free college-level computer coding course designed to teach students how to create apps, a move that’s part of the company’s push to highlight its role in the U.S. economy.

The one-year curriculum is called App Development With Swift. Swift is a programming language used for Apple apps and devices. Apple is offering the curriculum free on its iBooks Store, but has lined up six community college systems around the nation, including the San Mateo County Community College District, to use the course.


CEO Tim Cook announced a $1 billion fund this month designed to create more U.S. manufacturing jobs. The announcement came amid criticism by President Trump of Silicon Valley’s reliance on overseas factories.

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The Swift programming curriculum is an extension of Cook’s U.S. jobs investment strategy. Of the 2 million nationwide jobs supported by Apple, 1.5 million were linked to apps, the company said. The research firm App Annie said the worldwide app economy generated more than $89 billion last year.

In an interview, Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental, policy and social initiatives, said the curriculum will help high school and college students develop skills needed for careers in that growing app economy.

“This isn’t about politics,” Jackson said. Rather, it is a way for Apple to demonstrate its commitment to the U.S. economy.

But the course will train students in only one app language. While some have
adapted Swift

, whose source code is freely available and modifiable, to write apps for Google’s rival Android operating system, the language is strongly associated with apps for Apple devices. In the first quarter, Android users downloaded more than twice as many apps as Apple users, according to App Annie.

The course will become part of the computer training courses available at San Bruno’s Skyline College, one of three in the San Mateo County district. But it will be the first involving mobile app programming, said Andrea Vizenor, career and workforce training director. Skyline will offer a pilot program this summer, hoping to expand the curriculum to its sister campuses.

Vizenor said she didn’t see a Swift-specific course as “just feeding” the Apple system. Instead, she hopes that the association with a popular brand will entice students “who wouldn’t normally see themselves as computer science students.”

Benny Evangelista is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: bevangelista@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @ChronicleBenny

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