New Google Release Could Change Everything. Will it?

By: Chris Crum - July 14, 2010

This week, Google released a new Google Labs projectApp Inventor for Android. The product is designed to let anybody (as in non-developers) create Android Apps. This could go one of several ways. It could fade away into the graveyard of Google Labs projects that never became full-fledged products, it could get a handful of users, or it could change the web, the mobile industry, and user interaction with both very significantly.

Would you create your own mobile apps if you didn’t need developer skills to do so? Let us know.

It’s a simple concept, with enormous implications (even for non-Android users). The introduction of App Inventor has provoked a great deal of discussion around the web and with good reason. The product basically puts app creation into the hands of everyone (though you will still have to learn how to use App Inventor itself, as Jason Kincaid points out. Think Dreameaver for apps.)  Businesses will be able to create apps on the fly. Consumers could be able to create apps that cater to their personal preferences, and therefore make their devices more useful.

"To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer," says 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."

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 device, they are probably going to take advantage, and those apps will get users, and inspire more app creation.

Too Many Bad Apps?

Users ultimately decide what apps to put on their phones. It’s not like using the web. Your Android device is not going to be spammed with so-called bad apps. Android is an operating system, not the web. You don’t use Android like you use the web, you use the apps themselves that  you decide to use like you use the web.


Still, bad apps are going to exist regardless. In a discussion about this on our Facebook Page, a fan called these garbage apps. However, what one person might consider garbage, someone else might love. One person’s garbage may even be garbage to everyone, except for the creator and one other person, but if that garbage can deliver a useful and personalized experience for these two people (or perhaps between these two people, doesn’t that make Android all the more useful? Especially when you consider that there may be thousands of these two (or more)-person scenarios? That’s personalization. You don’t have to use my app but it’s perfect for me or for me and my friend to use. You can have your own. In this respect, it’s not much different than creating a web page.


If an infinite number of people have access to app creation, how can that not inspire innovation? Even if there are tons and tons of "garbage" apps as I’m sure there will be (yes, there will be plenty that aren’t even useful to the people who created them), there will also be some that are useful, popular, and possibly even revolutionary. This is a chance for people with great ideas (that may lack in developer skills) to shine.

Maybe these apps won’t be as sophisticated as those created by the real developers, but maybe they will encourage the developers to make better versions. MG Siegler made a great point in that maybe App Inventor gets non-developers messing around with app creation and they become more interested, actually learn the skills and make their own app ideas more sophisticated and innovative.

This is About More Than Just Android

It’s hard to say whether Google’s competitors in the mobile space will follow the precedent Google is setting here, but there’s no question that they have to take notice. Even if they don’t all immediately jump on it, some may. The more that jump on the bandwagon, the harder it’s going to be for others to stay off. For example, let’s say down the line,  Android, BlackBerry, and Microsoft offer products that follow this concept of simplified app creation. They’re going to not only have the ability for users to create their own apps, they’ll potentially have a much greater amount of apps for users to access than other competitors like Apple.

We’re just speculating on the future here, but you can see the potential this has for the mobile industry, which is already growing significantly in terms of users, which means your business is going to have to pay more and more attention to reaching mobile users.

This is About More Than Just Phones

This is very much about phones, but really that’s only part of the picture. You’re going to see more and more Android-powered devices become available eventually. Tablets. Google TV’s Android integration (which also has massive potential in itself). How about devices that will initially be powered by Chrome OS (like Netbooks)? Google suggested at its developer conference in May that Android and Chrome OS could conceivably merge one day (just a possibility). Who knows what other devices or appliances Google will put Android into in the future? 

Will People Create Their Own Apps?

There are a lot of unknowns about this product right now. It’s not only in beta, but it’s in Google Labs. There’s a chance it won’t ever become a full-fledged product, but it seems like too big of an idea not to, if you ask me. That said, there are probably plenty of details Google itself doesn’t have worked out yet, and there is no doubt that Google would put in a significant amount of time into ironing them out as they see fit to make this a better product. It will be be improved upon. We’re only in the first week right now. The more people use it, the more they will share their experiences with others, and more will be learned. Bugs will be fixed. People will get more used to it.

Maybe nobody will use App Inventor and none of this will pan out (we are after all, still waiting for the potential of other Google products like Buzz and Wave to be realized). But it could. How many people use programs like Dreamweaver to create web pages? How many people use social media to create profiles and content? WordPress or other blog platforms to publish blogs? If there is one thing we’ve seen over the past decade on the web, it’s that people like to create, for better or for worse. The easier that creation process is made, the more people understand it, and the more people will take advantage. That’s what I think. What do you think?

Is App Inventor a potential game-changer? Do you like the idea of anybody being able to create their own mobile apps? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Daz

    A Think This Is A Great Idea ” Better ” Than Katts Anyway
    But Why Only Gmail User Am Not A Fan Of Any Sort Of Discrimanation Of Any Sort

    But Apart From That A Think Its A Great Move By Google And Am Sure Wall Street Nas Dax Will Agree …. Anything That Gives Apple A Run For There Money Am All For

    Talking About Money As Google Have This App Thing And Bulding Mobile App Store Based On Apples Mobile Business Model A Think Google Should Have A App Pay Wall GOOGLE Need To Pull There Finger Out And Have The Pay Wall For Mobile Apps Just Like Apple ….. But Nothing Like Apple Do Charge

    Apple Must Know MERDOCK The Way Thay Carry On About There App Shop !
    This Is Great News Apple About Google’s Good Stuf Put That In Your Pipe Apple And Smoke That

  • jr

    I could see this a real advantage for a business. Perhaps a set of customized applications that could be used by a sales force, or a field service operation that was dialed in to the specific needs of that organization. Apple does not cater nore does it try to the business world. This may be the type of thing that further seperates the two classes of users. Good for Google!

  • gravics

    Google creates a lot of different projects except that the sense of it is minimal. No advance users.

  • Rachael

    I wonder how many non-developers really want to create mobile apps. Maybe young folks that are really pre-developers, but I would say that anyone with the skills, time and interest to design a mobile app is probably really a developer anyways. Applications require more than coding to be good apps. They require design, defining business rules and other advance analysis – in other words, development. Probably this tool will be used by new developers and junior developers as a rapid development tool. It sounds good for that purpose. I would be surprised is any serious commerical business apps are developed this way.

  • John Meshna

    I’d invent an app that would make the phone work reliably all the time.

  • Andrew PAlmer

    Of course I would – who wouldn’t? If we all had App making capabilities, there would be some crazy stuff out there and that – to be honest, is a good thing!

  • Gin

    Opening the door to the creativity of many rather than the few. Now if only jobs could be created in such a manner. I think it’s a great idea as there are people with ideas who may provide apps that may prove to be quite interesting or fun. I say, thank you, G! :)

  • Denfribedemand

    It is truly a miracle whenever something becomes easy for everybody to create. Of course there will be lots of garbage, but there will definitely also be pearls among the coming Apps.
    I do hope this Beta will be released for the public soon.

  • Hassan Mirzai

    Yes, I would. That would be a great hobby for me.

  • DJ Miller

    I think this is a great idea. Everyone has their own ideals about what they would like their phone to do. This will be the time for everyone that has written a bad review or given advice as to what they would like the app to do, to make it themselves. I am in NO way criticizing anyone for being honest or sharing their preferences. I just think this will be a great opportunity for everyone to get what they really want on their phone. I personally don’t see any problem in supporting google with a gmail account. You have to have one anyway to use the Market App. You don’t hear of Apple doing this for their customers.
    This can only have a positive result.

  • Jagan


    Definitelym google is going to change everything with this!
    And I bet I ‘ll do the apps stuff myself.

    I planned to learn java basics as a pre-requisite to learn android coding. Now I think I have to opt for another course than learn these both 😀

  • Guest

    I think it’s a great idea…. democratizing app creation will most definitely inspire the non-programming creatives out there to make some cool apps (of the fun, useful or even bizarre variety) , but it could also open the door for some really bad/annoying/tacky apps. Not unlike what myspace did for social media. I suspect most people will be making soundboards of their favorite bands, TV quotes, and bodily noises. Personally, I’ve been needing a key chain with comedic SFX such as: cricket sounds (for when I or someone around me tells a joke that bombs), applause, laugh tracks and your standard cartoon foley FX. With this app creator, I can FINALLY get exactly what I want!

  • Thomas Griffin

    This is wonderful idea with huge implications for businesses in general. Just think of all the ways a business could tap into this potential. A custom app for a certain section of sales people that updates them with new leads on the fly. Departmental apps for just in time inventory. There are a whole slew of things that could be made and custom tailored to your specific organization. I think this is a smart move by Google.

  • Guest


    • Bene md

      I know I could create more useful apps then the ones out there ! They always are missing 1 detail that makes it not useful.

      An App would greatly help my busy professionals who use my educational services.

  • Negoshi Aruba

    I could see this real advantage for a business. since we are Kallisto mobile developers we can do so many things for developing applications for many reason and educational services, give this open sources to the public will give a opportunity to so many people to have the freedom of creating they own ideas and help other in different ways, We love open sources this is the new generations of Developing freedom! Let go to do this!!!

  • Guest

    Would I create my own mobile apps if I didn’t need developer skills to do so? With lightening speed I would do so, and I do have developer skills to boot. The worm is definitely turning.

  • Rick Nash

    I can imagine the possibilities of deigning a droid app for so our listeners could view listen and buy songs directly from us and keep up with shows etc.

    Bring it on !

  • soundfoundation

    Personally i believe the power has always been in the people, we are only as string as those who surround us. This philosophy will rain true if all those web users out their understood and could see the benefits of free web development and app’s. There still in my opinion must be a regulated environment as far as user interface and functionality goes, but all in all its a great thing, and I find my self dreaming up Apps as I write this.

    I have a bad Appitude! lol

  • Elaine

    While I am not a developer by any stretch of the imagination, I can see where the technologies by which one could “make their own tours of a museum or college campus” could lead to the development of all sorts of marketing apps for shoppers, travellers, and the like. It is great to see new technology as it unfolds, and with Americans being the entrepreneurial animals they are, developing and marketing personalized app packages for retailers could bring a whole new service approach to existing businesses by merging maps, wholesalers and delivery companies into a whole new way of providing products and services to the consumer. This could translate into less overhead for businesses, by not having to warehouse product, faster delivery of products to the consumer, and a greater opportunity for distribution of goods through a variety of smaller manufacturers. America needs jobs, and the loss of manufacturing to outside sources has been a principle reason for our economic demise. Marry the information age with manufacturing, and such apps could well stimulate economic recovery.

  • Guest

    I think the App Inventor is a great idea and potential good move.. Kinda been waiting for this to break under someone’s roof. If anyone can pull it off, Google can. . .

    Bring It On G!

  • Mark ‘MKWeb’ Hultgren

    Let people that don’t write code create apps! I think it is a wonderful idea for a variety of reasons. Just think of the different apps that will be generated because a ‘non-coder’ thinks differently that someone who writes code all day.
    The person that writes code, will start with an outline of what the app will do and then builds it possibly fine tuning it a little along the way. A non coder will approach it differently and by not having to write the code, possibly reduce the number of bugs and ‘bad apps’ out there.
    I know there will probably be more than a few app developers that will wait for the new apps to come out and use them to create more robust versions.

  • Guest

    Wish they had this for iPhone as well

  • HugoP

    It’s really great to have a platform for non-technically minded folk to have access to development tools, but as Rachael alludes to above, a good app requires more than just a good idea. Witness the thousands upon thousands of poorly conceived and coded apps on the Apple App Store. This is due to the low barriers to entry (

  • Aloysius Carl

    This is a great move by Google by embracing crowdsourcing.

    Will there be some bad apps made? Absolutely. But will there be some awesome apps made? Absolutely! This should cause an avalanche of android apps and the good ones will rise to the top and we’ll use them.

  • Chuck Anthony

    Sure, why not? And why wouldn’t Google use the time tested concept of leverage as a means to attract new users. Of course they would and they will! Stands to reason if they can leverage the ability to create apps from an end-user base. I believe some truly fantastic ideas will come to the fore– I can think of a few myself. Ideally Google wants to channel these non-developer apps and then funnel into Android… Remember, one person’s garbage is another person’s (or Google’s) goldmine.

  • Cheap London hotels

    It seems to be a good idea to me. Look what happened when Social Media struck up and started making producing your own space easy. Such usable application can mean only one thing, more of them. The more apps there are the more choice you have got. Which can only be a good thing.

    No app that exists today does everything we want it to do. Creating something like this will mean we can add our own bits and pieces and who knows maybe incorporate other apps into our own. thus we create our own space on our own mobile device that does what we want it to do.

    it would be nice to see this go fully open source. Each app as a module (project) and see where it all goes from there.

  • Jan P

    I think it would be ideal to have the ability to create one’s own app without having to know the mystique of coding and so on. I know how painful it is to get websites and other apps created by the coding gurus so I could definitely see SHI Symbol having a go and creating their own apps ‘in house’. Well done Google, Bring it on.

  • Guest

    I think this is great for the masses, and I would definitely use it.

  • Mary

    Very cool… I would definitely use it. Already have ideas about that.

  • Jeremy Simkins

    I like how this will allow beginners to get a taste of actual development but it is far from competing with actual programmer. I would be more concerned with companies hiring people who use this method over actual programmers to save costs, I

  • Kay

    Are you kidding, I would certainly use it. I think most internet marketers would jump right on the bandwagon.

  • francisco samuel

    this is an excellent idea

    when visual basic hit the programming desks, it did not mean that all other kinds of programming stopped. there were various “flaws” in vb, but it did have a place in programming history

    same for frontpage. it made everyone with a pc into a web developer. but it did not stump the creativity of internet sites and applications.

    but a bigger point here is that the android is an open platform. i can create my own app with a variety of choices, and i’ll be able to distribute them to whomever wishes to download them. on the iphone, unless it meets steve job’s standards, you’re out of luck.

    i do think the iphone was a trailblazer in this space, but its’ closed platform is allowing newcomers like android to make inroads.

  • Tom

    As a writer, I think apps are an excellent way to promote short poems and / or poetry videos. I used to have one on Facebook until the software that ran it crashed and it was quite popular. The way to go!!!

    Say an app that loads a random poetry video from a selection of mine on youtube ( – feel free to subscribe or comment if poetry videos are your thing) would be a way to promote the videos. Ive had to use a randomiser homepage in an inline frameset on my website with 88 seperate HTML pages to get that effect on my website homepage ( – sign the guestbook if over by!!!) whioch as any designer will tell you is a LOT of hard work.

    Hence Ive shied away from doing anything for mobile web, which I think just may be the future for the medium in which I work.

  • James

    I think it’s a great idea… but I don’t think anybody is going to be able to sell it.

    It’s looks to be a predefined set of already determined functions.

    I am not sure if it opens the door to innovation. I think it most certainly opens the door for customization however.

    Bad Apps / Good Apps… I think it’s sort of irrelevant. I think the question will be how many hundreds of thousands apps are going to be out there. Will any of them be good? Or will the average user decide it’s simply easier t make their own app instead of looking for one.

    It’s interesting for sure…

    • James

      I think it was the New York Times which compared it to Apple’s HyperCard, which was before my time really. I do see the connection though. It’s like Applescript. A great personal utility to make your own tasks or workload easier.

      I don’t know how marketers would use this successfully. Can they deliver adverts on it? Is there anything they can offer of value to the end user that they couldn’t through an RSS reader, or their website?

      While I understand the connection bewteen wider adoption and easier to use. I am currently missing the connection with the gold rush aspect which has been the huge motivator for wide adoption in the past.

      I haven’t used it yet, and I haven’t seen much of Android to be honest, so I guess it is a wait and see.

      It looks like an awesome interface though…

  • B Donald

    Google needs to stop screwing around and get back to the search engine thing, or go with all the little projects they have going and hand off the search engine to someone that can make it work again, I’m sure I’m not the only one but I have several websites that have been up for almost a year now all built with Google in mind.
    Still to this day there are sites that are less relevant showing up way above mine in the search results.
    My opinion is Google couldn’t find their own Ass with both hands.

  • Jerome

    I would start creating one right now!

    The cost holds back and other projects because it seems a bit intensive.