Google App Inventor: Android more open than iPhone/iOS? (and fatal pun)

By Richi Jennings. July 12, 2010.

Google today launched its App Inventor for Android: an app development environment for non-developers. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers conclude that Android is more open than Apple's iPhone/iPad iOS platform.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention a fatal pun...


    Dean Takahashi ventures forth, to kick us off:

Google App Inventor for Android ... has been under development for a year. ... [It] lets people drag and drop code blocks ... like the way that users can program LEGO robots. ... User testing has been done in schools with ... sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and undergraduates. ... That means the mass market.


This emphasis on “open software” is ... [a] move to encircle Apple, which has more tightly controlled its software. ... Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, [who] led the project ... is a founding member of the Free Software Association.

Dan Nosowitz knows more:

For most people, app creation is just too complex and nerdy to even think about tackling. Google ... aims to change that. ... It's a very simplified tool ... you won't be creating any masterpieces here ... uses a drag-and-drop interface. ... App Inventor gives ... access to an Android phone's GPS sensor, its phone (including voice and text messages), and certain web APIs.


I'm not sure that neophytes are going to be too interested ... but those with a casual interest in development ... may give it a try. Everybody with a modern smartphone has likely had an idea for a great app ... this tool might actually give people the ability to make that idea a reality.

Harry McCracken gets cranky:

I still have a cranky-old-man rant about PCs getting boring when they stopped coming with BASIC and normal people therefore stopped learning how to write their own software.


It’s an exciting idea that’s more than slightly reminiscent of HyperCard, the brilliant visual programming tool that was a big deal on the Mac more than twenty years ago. ... HyperCard or something similar would be a boon on the iPhone. ... I think that the surface similarities between Android and iOS are less interesting than the fundamental differences in emphasis and philosophy.

But Brad McCarty ponders lousy apps:

Google is known for carrying out ideas simply to see what can be done with them. ... The idea is to give Joe User the ability to make a functional ... application, and to see what will become of it.


By Google’s own admission, these aren’t the prettiest applications available. They’re not the best designed, nor are they likely to be the most profitable. ... Will it negatively impact the Android Market? It’s not likely ... the good ones rise to the top very quickly.

And M.G. Siegler debates that argument's pros and cons:

It could be a very big gateway drug for Android app development. Or is it a Doomsday device that will muck up native app development on the platform? ... As many web developers will tell you, the rise of WYSIWYG editors ... like Dreamweaver ... led to an explosion of ****** websites. ... But there’s a flip-side to this.


It makes ... trying to create your own app much less daunting. ... If this tool can get some kid to start messing around with app creation, maybe they’ll get more interested and start learning actual Java. ... Maybe one day they’ll create the next killer app. ... I’m going to be cautiously optimistic that this tool is ... a very good thing. And it’s something Apple should be taking very seriously.

Meanwhile, your humble blogwatcher thinks it's brilliant for IT:

Think about it. ... This is just one step on the road. ... Google is also targeting Android and/or Chrome OS on the desktop. ... What if Google's App Inventor could create apps for these desktop platforms, too?


Corporate in-house software development can be of (ahem) variable quality. ... Visual BASIC was both a blessing and a curse for IT developers. It promised easy drag'n'drop development, but forced people to muck about in the underlying code much of the time. ... The result was often an ugly, unreliable, insecure app. ... If Google can solve this problem, it's another brick knocked from the wall of Windows hegemony.

And Finally...

Should you "Avoid hospitals in July," or is it an urban legend?

[worth reading just for the awful pun in the title]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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