Google has been attempting to break out of their search engine based box for quite some time by presenting challenges to some of the IT world's biggest names such as Microsoft and Apple. Now with the new App Inventor that Google has launched for Android it is giving developers more incentive to use their platform, giving the iPhone's developmental platform a run for its money. Today's launch of the Android App Inventor came after a year long effort of Google's development team to put users in the driver's seat.
This app development tool received wide spread exposure this weekend when the New York Times featured the App Inventor in its Technology section. Boasting claims that cell phones such as the Android are the computers of choice in today's world it only makes sense, says Google, that users have access to the tools that allow them to easily create their own applications for the devices they they are relying on. While this claim may be a bit a overstated as laptops and PC's are in no danger of being completely replaced by cell phones any time in the near future, the access provided by this new app creator could, none the less, be big news for game developers by allowing an influx of new developers to make a splash in the world of mobile game and app development.
How Does it Work?
Instead of relying on complicated lines of code, Google's App Inventor utilizes a simpler integrated development environment that is very reminiscent to that of Visual Basic which was released by Microsoft a few decades ago.
What Does This Mean for Developers
At this point it seems that the App Inventor will be best utilized for creating basic, simple types of games for the Android which in and of itself might not really mean much to the mobile development community, other than perhaps a nice and easy diversion for those wishing to take a break from more complex development and revisit some of their object oriented programming skills; however, there are a few upsides and downsides for developers to consider.
Because the Google App Inventor will require fewer technical skills it is designed to allow newer, less experienced developers to easily enter the game creation world and develop simple applications for the Android audience. This gives game and app developers access to a larger market which means great exposure for them and their development endeavors. Whether Apple will follow up on this or simply pursue other venues for competition is yet to be seen; however, this could also lead to a further opening of the market for independent game development teams.
The App Inventor not only allows for more users to access the utilities to create more apps and games but it also cuts down on development time which can help to make creators more efficient and give them an edge to beat their competitors on other platforms to market.
Unfortunately the ease of use which is the upside of the App Inventor is also Google's downside. By allowing for such a low entry point into the developmental realm, Google runs the risk of having an influx of simple, yet meaningless games (and other apps) which could result in an over load of apps, thus making it difficult for users to find what they want. This could mean that serious developers could easily get lost in the pile of new games and tools much in the same way that Google apps for the web has resulted in dozens of simple, random games and meaningless apps muddling higher quality choices.
The issue of quantity verses quality is one that Google's competitors will have to consider carefully, so we may see others following suit to offer easy, widely accessible app creator tools for the masses, or they may instead choose to take the technological high ground to allow for fewer game creators to enter the market but keeping the standard higher so that what we do see will be the result of a higher quality mobile experience.