Google is launching a new tool on Monday that lets anyone create an app for Android phones.
You can build just about any app you can imagine with App Inventor. Often people begin by building games like WhackAMole or games that let you draw funny pictures on your friend’s faces. You can even make use of the phone’s sensors to move a ball through a maze based on tilting the phone.
But app building is not limited to simple games. You can also build apps that inform and educate. You can create a quiz app to help you and your classmates study for a test. With Android’s text-to-speech capabilities, you can even have the phone ask the questions aloud.
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 concept is a smart one: Not only is the Android Market an open platform for developers with no approval process, ala the App Store, but now we’ll likely see a vast array of specialized apps built by non-developers. This could radically increase the volume of apps in the Market versus the App Store.
The expansion may of course come at the cost of quality: We’ll see thousands of new Android apps, but will they be of a “cookie cutter” nature, offering very little value? There is, however, an upside in the long-term: If App Inventor is so simple that schoolchildren can make apps, some those same children will soon become coders themselves … and perhaps choose to develop Android apps rather than iPhone.
Google and Apple are currently in a heated battle to win the hearts and minds of developers. Google, it seems, wants to win over the non-developers too.