Google as champion of user-as-creator

July 14, 2010 at 10:06 am 3 comments

Google’s App Inventor for Android has now been released, and they’re using the opportunity to emphasize how Google is champion of the user as creator, not just consumer, of digital media and software applications.  The NY Times highlights the contrast with Apple’s approach to the iPhone platform.

The thinking behind the initiative, Google said, is that as cellphones increasingly become the computers that people rely on most, users should be able to make applications themselves.

“The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of opening up its technology to all kinds of developers will eventually give it the upper hand in the smartphone software market. Its leading rival, Apple, takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone, controlling the software and vetting the programs available.

via Google’s Do-It-Yourself App Tool –

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. So what will I use? « Petite's Blog  |  July 14, 2010 at 11:43 am

    […] quickly visit some sites that were relevant to my field.  For example,  Google just released an app inventor for Android, and I submitted my request form through the educator page.  Since my desire to […]

  • 2. Alan Kay  |  July 14, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    I visited Google last week and talked with Hal and others involved in this.

    Another wrinkle here is that they are using the Etoys/Scratch tiles programming to do the scripting, and are trying to get developers (children especially) in contact with some of the tools that provide value to phones (location services, etc.).

    One could imagine this being a fabulous idea if there were a “powerful ideas” follow-on that used the same scripting and UI. I think this could be a great ice breaker about simple programming, and the big question is “what should the next stage be?”



  • 3. wolber  |  July 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    At the University of San Francisco, I’ve taught Media computing (Jython) in the past and now App Inventor for Android for the past two semesters as part of Google’s pilot. Both are incredibly well designed tools that put the programming constructs out in front of you and let you build something cool.

    What distinguishes App Inventor from Media computing, Alice, Scratch, etc. is the student motivation level for building apps: the idea that they can build something that helps their day-to-day life and that works on their most beloved device (body part?) is incredible to them. Students are simply astounded at what they can create, and I’ve literally had to kick students out of the lab. I’ve sometimes had that experience with other tools, but not to this extent, and not with so many of the students.

    If folks are interested, I have some materials up at



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