— -- A year into an educational initiative to provide tech to underserved schools across the nation, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited one of the schools in New York to see how students were progressing and said he believed the program could empower future leaders.
The tech giant's CEO visited the P.S. 161 Pedro Albizu Campos School in Harlem on Tuesday, where sixth-graders were using cutting edge technology in the classroom. During the visit he sat down for an exclusive interview with “GMA” co-anchor Robin Roberts, where he discussed the iPhone 7, the phone's new wireless earbuds and the ConnectED program that's revolutionizing the way the school's students are learning.
Apple partnered with the White House with ConnectED, the initiative whose goal is to connect 99 percent of U.S. schools to advanced technology. As part of the initiative, Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to every classroom.
“These kids are born in a digital world, and if they come to school and ... have an analog environment, it's not conducive to learning. It's not conducive to creativity,” he said. “We're bringing digital to the schools here, and we're focused on under served schools.”
P.S. 161 and 113 other schools across the country have seen student engagement rise since they implemented the program one year ago, according to Cook.
“It’s going fabulous,” he said, adding that student attendance was also up significantly, as were math scores. “We feel really good.”
Pamela Price-Haynes, the principal of P.S. 161, said the students have been more engaged since they got iPads in the classroom.
“They’re thinking, they’re having conversations ... Learning should come from within. And so using our iPads as a tool, we can cause that to happen. It does not take the place of good teaching but it is an essential tool,” Price-Haynes said.
Cook said the program would give students the tools to fulfill their dreams and potential.
“Everyone should be able to aspire and climb that ladder,” he said.
During the interview, Cook also discussed his company’s decision to scrap the iPhone 7’s headphone jack in favor of wireless ear buds called AirPods, saying “wireless is the future.”
“When you decide on what the future is, you want to get there as soon as you can,” he said. “Now why is that important for the consumer? Well, that plug, that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there's a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack.”
Among those others things is stereo speakers at the top and bottom of the device, doubling the volume level of previous models. Those speakers, as well as larger battery providing longer battery life, were made possible because of the elimination of the headphone jack, Cook said.
Many people questioned the move to AirPods when the new iPhone 7 was announced to much fanfare on Sept. 7. Some even ridiculed the innovation, suggesting that they believe the AirPods could easily be lost or fall out of the wearer’s ears.
Not so, Cook said.
“There's a little case that you put the AirPods in. Magnetically, they're sort of sucked down into the case. It's a great place to both charge them and keep them,” he said, adding that he had used the AirPods while walking, dancing and on a treadmill and had never had one fall out.
A number of reviews have since allayed fears that the headphones might fall out.
Cook stood firmly behind the latest generation of the smartphone, calling it “the best iPhone we’ve ever created.”
He added: “The performance of the iPhone is killer.”