Google has a new Google Labs project designed to let anybody (as in non-developers) create Android Apps. The project is called App Inventor.
While in beta status, App Inventor could become a huge factor in Android growth, should it find semi-mainstream use. If you can get people of all ages creating any kinds of apps they want with little to no friction, Android becomes a much more personalized platform for mobile phone users (not to mention eventually tablets, TVs, etc.).
"To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer," explains Google. "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 has a gallery of sample apps created with the App Inventor available here. You can also check out App Inventor in action in the following clip:
Again, this is in beta and the true potential of this remains to be seen, but the concept has enormous implications. Simplification often leads to wider adoption. Look at what blogging platforms did for online content creation. Look at what Twitter is doing for news consumption (essentially what RSS has been doing for years). If people have a simple way to create apps quickly that can be used by users of any Android devices, they are probably going to take advantage, and those apps will get users, and inspire more app creation.
It will be very interesting to see how this develops, what kinds of spam control are implemented, and how Android competitors react.
Google says it will be granting access to App Inventor over the coming weeks. There is a form here where you can request access.