I read a lot of blogs. A LOT. So trust me when I say these are the biggest complaints regarding Google Android’s App Store
1. It’s Hard to find Applications
2. The quality of the applications are lower than what you find on the iPhone
Given those points I find this move by Google odd…
App Inventor is a new tool in Google Labs that makes it easy for anyone—programmers and non-programmers, professionals and students—to create mobile applications for Android-powered devices. And today, we’re extending invitations to the general public.
So Google is essentially going to flood the market with even lower quality apps? Really?!? Doesn’t seem wise to me.
But there is one good argument for this tool in the post and that’s the educational angle.
One student from Professor Wolber’s class told us: “I used to think that no one could program except CS people. Now, I've made dozens of applications for the Android phone!” Another student, who struggles with dyslexia, was inspired by App Inventor to take more computer science classes and is now learning Python.
I’m all for getting kids interested in programming and Google should be applauded for doing that. But there’s a better way and this is the last thing Android needs right now.
Anyone who has studied Apple knows the main problem they had for the 5 years before Steve Jobs came back was strategic vision. Apple’s always been a company people are passionate about and they could always draw engineering talent because of that. But without someone to pull it all together and focus it they turned into a company that couldn’t get all their great technology into a coherent product.
Google needs to learn that lesson here. They have a strategic goal which is to empower the web and their focus should be to very slowly pull Android into the fold. That means allowing professional developers to create apps so Android is competitive with the iPhone while slowly making the web app experience richer.
So while the goal of educating people on how to make simple apps is great it would be much better if focus was put on the web and not on Android native apps.
One Last Point… A valid counter point to the argument I lay out above is that web apps require someone to know how to host their own server, deploy to it, etc… I’d disagree with that. Google could allow people to deploy these apps easily (and for free) on their already existing cloud host Google App Engine. Or if they wanted to avoid connectivity problems they could have the tool create locally hosted web apps (Android’s supported HTML5’s offline abilities since the “eclair” release).