Google App Inventor for Android: brilliant for IT

In this morning's IT Blogwatch, I rounded up bloggers' thoughts on Google's new App Inventor for Android. This is a drag'n'drop application development environment, which promises easy creation of smartphone apps, without mucking around with Java or other conventional languages. Interesting, but is there more to it than students and newbies writing trivial toy apps for phones? I think so, in The Long View.

Think about it. This is just one step on the road to IT freeing itself from Windows. Android isn't just for smartphones and tablets. Google is also targeting Android and/or Chrome OS on the desktop -- Chrome OS for simple, web-app-centric tasks, and Android for running more conventional applications. What if Google's App Inventor could create apps for these desktop platforms, too? Many IT departments that are frustrated by Windows would jump at the chance of running a mature, easy-to-use, Linux-based platform that's supported by a big name like Google. However, the fly in the ointment of IT platforms can often be the necessity for custom apps -- either developed in-house, or by 3rd-party developers. Corporate in-house software development can be of (ahem) variable quality -- often thanks to over-enthusiastic use of 'simple' development environments, such as VB. Visual BASIC was both a blessing and a curse for IT developers. It promised easy drag'n'drop development, but forced people to muck around in the underlying code much of the time. Mis-set expectations forced developers to act outside their limited training or competence. When Microsoft promised managers that low-skilled developers could build relatively sophisticated apps with VB, the reality was often far from the utopian dream.The result was often an ugly, unreliable, insecure app. The history of simplified development environments is littered with over-hyped schemes and broken promises. Google seems to be going about this in a sensible way, by trialing App Inventor with students and other non-traditional developers.

Time will tell, but if Google can solve this problem, it's another brick knocked from the wall of Windows hegemony.

What do you think? Leave a comment below...

Richi Jennings, blogger at large
  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: TLV@richij.com.

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

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