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What is App Inventor?

App Inventor is an intuitive program through which people who are not well-versed in computer language (coding) can easily create innovative, useful, and good-looking apps for their Android products.

In the words of others, App Inventor is… “a web-based development environment that’s meant to make it possible for non-developers to build their own Android applications,” “. . . similar to snapping together Lego blocks,” “. . . a grassroots movement.”

Other popular and intuitive do-it-yourself app development programs include Scotch, Basic, and Logo.

Apple apps appear to use the language Objective C, whereas Android apps use Java.

Smartphone-wise, Android appears to have a larger market share than Apple at around 52% (http://mashable.com/2012/07/13/android-51-8-market-share/), though some discrepancy has been reported which may indicate at Apple remains in the lead (http://articles.businessinsider.com/2012-05-02/tech/31529764_1_smartphone-android-iphones).  However, Apple retains the lead in the tablet department, though Android is projected to more than double production of its tablets (http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/worldwide-market-share-for-tablet-systems-a-market-dominated-by-apples-ipad/2012/08/20/740fca32-eb15-11e1-866f-60a00f604425_story.html).

Ableson, in mentioning how “open” Android’s system is, is referring to the fact that Android and Google allow and even encourage their customers to be enterprising and innovative in the creation of new apps, while Apple banks on the fact that the public will enjoy the apps it releases.  Two mentalities collide: Android’s DIY, personalization-over-perfection method and Apple’s utopian, perfection-over-personalization approach.

Thompson’s argument for the democratization of programming is that programming is the way through which many current world issues might be solved.  I agree with the argument presented, though the reason I support app development becoming a widespread phenomenon is because people will learn how to solve their own technology-related issues, rather than waiting for a company to do it for them.  In this way, people might become more proactive, technologically, than ever before.

App Inventor has catalyzed such programs as one which can locate your car in the parking lot so you don’t lose track of it, one which texts people automatically while you’re driving so they know not to bother you, and one which offers a whack-a-mole game featuring the face of one who annoys you as the mole in question.  It would appear some of these apps are starting to surface as larger-scale creations, including the texting app which was taken and repurposed, but ultimately used, by the company StateFarm.

Situated software is a more user-friendly way of programming, and is the approach App Inventor takes.  It allows most anyone to create their own apps and have fun doing so, at the cost of elegance and, in some cases, stability.  When Shirky discusses scale, he is referring to the fact that, in many cases, such app development programs do not need to be large-scale, and this indeed is what makes them inaccessible to the public.  Small-scale app programs can still succeed and be used by the public, as demonstrated by App Inventor.

According to David Wolber, professor at the University of San Francisco, App Inventor has been well on its way to revolutionizing the app industry in making it more accessible to those less familiar with coding and the inner machinations of computers.


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