You’re probably just as sick of the Google-Apple horserace as we are, but Google’s just-released App Inventor puts the difference between the two companies in stark relief. Whereas Apple wants curated iPhone and iPad app stores with an Apple-specific API and their own fingers in seemingly every step of the development process, Google’s release of App Inventor is an opening of the floodgates: They want lots of people developing Android apps, even (especially?) non-programmers.
To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer. App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behavior.
The App Inventor team has created blocks for just about everything you can do with an Android phone, as well as blocks for doing “programming-like” stuff– blocks to store information, blocks for repeating actions, and blocks to perform actions under certain conditions. There are even blocks to talk to services like Twitter.
The Apple counterargument to something like App Inventor, of course, would be that it will flood the Android store with crap. And they’re right: The crap:non-crap ratio emanating from App Inventor will most certainly be a high one. But there’ll surely be neat stuff to come as well, even from unlikely quarters. A wave of low-quality apps with a few good ones mixed in isn’t necessarily a bad thing: It simply puts the onus on Google to make Android app store search effective at finding what people are looking for.
Check out App Inventor’s demo video to get a sense of how its visual Open Block interface works; you can read more about it at Google Labs.
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