The Apple iPhone and Apple's App Store have become so popular that Stanford University is now offering a free online course for those developers interested in writing apps for the iconic smartphone.
On April 1, Stanford announced that it will broadcast a free, 10-week class called "iPhone Application Programming," which will be posted at the university's iTunes U Website. The lectures, which started this week, will be posted two days after the actual class, and the university will also make slides and other material from the class available.
The classes are being offered through Stanford's Department of Computer Science. However, those watching the online version of the course are not eligible for course credit.
The Apple App Store has been garnering a lot of attention in the last few months as the applications being developed and built for the iPhone are, in a way, more popular now than the actual physical device. Apple executives have said that there are now more than 25,000 apps for the iPhone, and users have downloaded more than 800 million applications from the App Store.
In fact, the market for smartphone applications, whether they are built for the iPhone or another device, has become a driving force in the industry. While the App Store is considered the premier outlet for smartphone applications, Microsoft, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion and Nokia are all interested in expanding or building their own application stores.
At the 2009 CTIA conference in Las Vegas, Nokia offered new details about its Ovi Store, and RIM announced its application store for its line of BlackBerry smartphones. Microsoft also offered more details about its own online application warehouse and then hinted that the company hopes to offer a mobile version of Office for the iPhone.
When Apple releases the 3.0 version of its iPhone OS later this year, the software development kit and new features and tools are also likely to lead to a whole new set of applications for the iPhone.
So far, Stanford has some success with developing applications for both the iPhone and the iPod Touch. One student-developed application is a Chinese-English dictionary called Qingwen that is available for downloading.