Apple announced on Thursday that it’s open sourcing its programming language Swift, which means that any developer around the world can download Swift’s source code and make improvements or changes to it.
This is an unusual move for a company that is notoriously secretive and protective of its technology.
Apple’s senior vice president of software Craig Federighi told The Next Web why Apple made this change.
“In terms of where we hope the open source project will take Swift, it comes back to the original goals of making Swift the language you learn to program in from the outset,” said Federighi. “When you learn it you’ll be able to use it to accomplish everything you want to accomplish, all the way from building mobile applications to cloud development.”
Federighi explained that making Swift open source will help in all kinds of ways. He gave the example of a university, saying: “If a university wants to revise their core curriculum and start teaching programming in Swift, it being open source really makes that an easy decision for them to make.”
Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple who died in 2011, previously promised to open source the protocol behind FaceTime, the video calling software built into all iPhones, iPads, and Macs. The change never happened, however.
Apple has also made it easier for businesses to work with Swift, a point that Federighi explains when he references cloud development. The company has traditionally not been strong when it comes to enterprise, but the iPad and recent improvements to iOS — alongside a deal with IBM — has changed this.