Google has developed a tool, App Inventor, that is intended to allow people with limited or no technical skills to build apps for Android. Based on the video (below) and discussion on the site, the app creation tools appear to offer “drag and drop” simplicity. Not quite a wizard, it greatly simplifies app creation:
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.
There are a series of app tutorials on the site that offer “templates” across a range of application types: games, quizes, a caller ID app and a few others.
There are already a number of companies (and at least 15 apps) that are already doing versions of this for the iPhone. These are sometimes specialized or “verticalized” for particular uses or industries (e.g., musicians, small businesses) and some require more technical knowledge than others. (RWW offers a nice roundup of most of them.)
Many people are spinning or covering Google App Inventor as though it’s Google’s secret weapon against Apple. But just as the iPhone DIY app-creators and tools haven’t flooded the market with new apps by the masses, this probably won’t either. It will, however, probably enable some people (and many younger people) to get involved in app development and create some interesting apps that might otherwise not have come into being.