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Jump online to join Stanford's free Apple App Creation Course

As apps have exploded in popularity, so has a Stanford course that teaches students how to develop applications for Apple's iPhone and iPad.
BY Uttara Choudhury |   15-02-2013

Here’s the good news. The 10-week course on creating iPhone and iPad apps taught at Stanford University is available online, to anyone, free, at Apple's iTunes U.

Want to learn how to create an app for an Apple device? The 10-week Stanford computer programming course, iPhone and iPad Application Development, is a hot ticket. The class is offered to computer science majors at Stanford University, and is one of the toughest classes to gain a seat in.
 
Taught by Paul Hegarty, a close friend of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, the course gained such popularity on campus, that he decided to make the entire course available online and freely downloadable from Apple’s iTunes U from where it's been downloaded more than 10 million times. However, grades, college credits, and access to instructor assistance on the course, is limited to Stanford University students only.
 
"You can learn a great deal by watching the lectures on iTunes U," says Delhi University engineering student Venkat Subramaniam who is currently creating a cricket app. "Stanford’s course opened my eyes to the booming app economy.”
 
Sessions normally appear on iTunes U just three to four days after each class. The course on iPhone apps was offered for the first time at Stanford during the Fall of 2008. When it appeared online in 2009, it made iTunes history by being downloaded one million times in seven weeks.
 
Students attribute the course popularity to the appeal of Apple products and the “instant gratification” of creating apps for hit mobile devices.

“It is exciting to design and develop an app from scratch,” says current Stanford computer science student Gautam Ahuja. “The course shows you how to code, experiment with various navigational schemes, the copy on buttons and the flow between screens and much more.”

The curriculum has been updated for iOS 6, the latest operating system for building applications for the iPhone and iPad and delves into the minutiae of programming in a computer language called Objective-C, so it’s not for novices.
 
In fact, the prerequisites for takers of the class on campus are C language and programming experience at the 106B or X level. It also helps to have UNIX experience, know object-oriented programming, and be good with graphical toolkits. You also need to be up to speed with two Stanford prerequisite courses on Programming Methodology and Programming Abstractions, both also available on iTunes U.
 
Classes provide something every iPhone developer yearns for: insight from Apple itself, which is guarded in what it shares. Guest lecturers have included Apple employees with expertise on matters like multitouch display, battery life and integrating Apple tools into apps.
 
As the 10-week course progresses, students are asked to create increasingly complex programs, from a basic introductory app, leading into a Paparazzi app that draws in photos from image-sharing sites such as Flickr. During the last four weeks, students team up to work on their own ideas. People following online are also encouraged to test and develop their own apps and publish them through the Apple app store.  
 
“The lectures go on for the full 10 weeks. Stanford students work on their apps in the last four and will present their apps. We do encourage people who are following online to publish their applications to the Apple app store,” says Brent Izutsu, Senior Program Manager, Stanford on iTunes U.
 
Course graduates have created everything from Air Guitar, which turns the screen into an imaginary musical instrument while a song plays, to Site Saver, useful for saving Web sites to the phone.
 
Since the iTunes App Store launched in 2008, over 700,000 apps, from Instagram to Angry Birds have been approved by Apple, and app ideas are scrawled everyday on napkins across the world. Apple has inspired freelance coders from San Francisco to Bangalore to build apps and has forked over $6.5 billion in royalties. Most developers make their money when someone buys or upgrades their app from Apple’s online store. Apple keeps 30 percent of each app sale.
 
Streaming Color Studios, a Canada-based game developer, did a survey of game makers in late 2011 and discovered the app economy is heavily loaded toward a few lucky winners. A quarter of the respondents said they had made less than $200 in lifetime revenue from Apple, 25 percent had made more than $30,000 and 4 percent had made over $1 million.
 
Uttara Choudhury is Associate Editor, North America for TV 18’s Firstpost news site. In 1997, she went on the British Chevening Scholarship to study Journalism in the University of Westminster, in London.  

 
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