Last night, Google unveiled a new Android development tool called “App Inventor” that allows anyone without programming knowledge the ability to create Android apps using a simple drag-and-drop WYSIWYG-style editor.
The new service, announced via this New York Times article, aims to break down the knowledge barrier for creating apps for the Android platform, and has been in beta testing in educational institutions for the past year or so. The service is a Web app that provides a dead simple way to drag and drop elements of an Android app, with the hard-coding being formatted in the background- the same way WYSIWYG editors tore down the barrier to basic HTML editing in the early days of the Internet.
Google claims the service was used by kids in the sixth-grade to create rather powerful apps, indicating just how easy App Inventor can be. “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,” Google says on it’s Website.
The flip side to this, as TechCrunch is pointing out, is that the Android Market could potentially be bombarded with “less-than-stellar” apps that degrade the the Market itself. The same thing happened back when WYSIWYG editors reinvented how Websites are created, and allowed anyone who could drag-and-drop elements the ability to create a Website. The only problem was that the Internet was quickly flooded with cheap, low quality sites. Whether the same thing could happen with App Inventor is yet to be seen, but the potential is certainly there given Google’s lack of approval authority in the Android Market.