Google has released the beta of its App Inventor software, a tool designed to allow non-programmers to create Android applications. This is clearly aimed at lowering the barriers to application development and helping Google catch up with Apple. But while it’s a good idea so far, there are still problems with the notion that durably useful and differentiable apps can be created with a minimalist tool and no programming.
In fact, we think this may be the start of a wave that could be destructive for apps in general — a wave of trivial applications that eventually swamp app stores and bore consumers. In a growing population of apps, it’s hard to stand out. Apple developers already know that, and this trend could make the problem worse. However, if a tool were used to create a development framework that could then be customized using conventional developer tools, it might ease drudgery in app development.