Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

The Android Gets Its HyperCard

CmdrTaco posted about 4 years ago | from the developers^3 dept.

Google 256

theodp writes "Steve Jobs & Co. put the kibosh on easier cellphone development, but Google is giving it a shot. The NY Times reports that Google is bringing Android software development to the masses, offering a software tool starting Monday that's intended to make it easy for people to write applications for its Android phones. The free software, called Google App Inventor for Android, has been under development for a year. User testing has been done mainly in schools with groups that included sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not CS majors. 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. It's something Apple should be taking very seriously, advises TechCrunch."

cancel ×

256 comments

lawl (1, Troll)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#32873530)

We're Apple...we don't have to care what our competitors do!

Re:lawl (3, Insightful)

n2art2 (945661) | about 4 years ago | (#32873554)

and that is because as soon as Apple does something different the competitors tend to copycat.

Re:lawl (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873618)

The irony being that they only got where they did in the phone market by infringing a ton of Nokia's patents, and then when they were big enough they decided to break with protocol which had been happily delivering advancement for consumers for a while in the phone market by suing others for daring to infringe their patents. But I guess fanboys can't remember anything earlier than the last Apple press release?

Re:lawl (2, Interesting)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 4 years ago | (#32873788)

Apple only got where it's at by copycating. Pretty much everything else it's done has been available before. Is there anything Apple's done that hasn't fallen into this pattern:

1) Copycat something someone has done before
2) Clean up the UI/polish of the device to make it more user friendly
3) Go on a marketing blitz to try and make it popular and trendy.
4) Profit

And then I've seen in several products (but not all)..
5) Stagnate while competitors catch up with and improve upon/beyond Apple's original concepts.

And with the transition from MacOS 9 -> MacOS X...
6) Return to step 2

Re:lawl (3, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | about 4 years ago | (#32873676)

>and that is because as soon as Apple does something different the competitors tend to copycat.

I thought this was a story about Google doing something differently than apple.

Re:lawl (2, Insightful)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | about 4 years ago | (#32873690)

and that is because as soon as Xerox does something different Apple tends to copycat.

FTFY

PS) Thank the Lords of Kobol that Palm, HTC, Motorola, etc have been choosing to not copycat Apple!

Re:lawl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874338)

Oh okay I get it.

"Everyone copies Apple" == Insightful
"Apple copied Xerox" == Flamebait

Re:lawl (1)

Pojut (1027544) | about 4 years ago | (#32873710)

Yup. Thank goodness we're all using one-button mice! All joking aside, I know what you're saying...but Apple still needs to be paying attention.

Re:lawl (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32873876)

This is a situation where, I suspect, Apple will not follow unless placed under real pressure.

Look at Apple's release model, particularly for iDevice stuff, it is the very opposite of "early and often". They are totally willing to take flack(cut and paste, MMS, multitasking, etc.) for as long as necessary in the service of delivering what they consider to be the "right" solution. Obviously, they do do iterated development as well(just ask anybody who had to endure OSX before about 10.3...); but Apple, in the present day, has a strong bias against "good enough and a lot faster/cheaper" type stuff.

Releasing an environment explicitly designed to lower the barrier to entry for application creation would have an effect precisely contrary to Apple's design aesthetic and integration philosophy. Consider the analogy of MS Access in the context of Win32 desktop software. On the one hand, the existence of that application is probably responsible for the existence of more utterly rubbish "applications" than just about anything else on earth. On the other hand, it has allowed millions of people who are basically nonprogrammers to hack together "good enough" applications to solve the weird little application-specific problems that are important to them or their business, and which are too small to pay for a real developer.

Google's "App Inventor" will very likely have similar results: large numbers of people who would otherwise be unable to create any software will create bad software that is "good enough" because, while bad, it is precisely tailored to problems that they care about. Apple could, in all likelihood, create such a system if they were so inclined; but there are two reasons to suspect that they won't(again, unless they find themselves under really heavy competitive pressure, which they haven't yet. Android has grown phenomenally; but mostly by sniping geeks, eating the WinMo and legacy-Palm markets, and pretty much crushing the "high end dumbphone", not by cutting the iPhone user base): One, Apple currently has the substantial majority of 3rd party developers, and many of the ones considered to be doing the best work. Two, "good enough" makes Steve cry, and the programs that will come out of any bar-lowering super-simple application development environment will just ooze "good enough" from every pore...

Re:lawl (2, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | about 4 years ago | (#32874066)

You don't seriously think Apple held back 3G, a half-decent camera, etc., simply because they wanted to do it "right"? Apple will hold back on basic features because then they can get their users to buy the same product again in 12 months. There's nothing more to it.

Re:lawl (3, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32874190)

The two strategies are not mutually exclusive, and I think that it is fair to say that they engage in both.

Because hardware cannot be patched, any feature delay(whether a legitimate delay caused by having a fairly small engineering team, or an instance of cynical milking) tends to look and feel like milking, and have similar economic consequences.

With software, it is harder to argue that there is a cynical economic strategy at work; because (with iPhones) software upgrades are not paid for, so the delay has no profit, only a PR cost. They might make a few bucks off the iPod Touch users; but I'd be shocked if the money made by nickel and diming them is worth a delay that might reduce the number of comparatively high-roller iPhone users they have raked in and locked into contract at a given time. The only aspect of their software strategy that is arguably "milking" is tying relatively trivial features of their OS bundled applications to OSX upgrades, in order to encourage people who don't care about APIs, or wouldn't know one if it bit them in the ass, to update anyway.

Re:lawl (1)

MrHanky (141717) | about 4 years ago | (#32874368)

Since Apple is notorious for forcing old hardware into obsolescence (not so much their phones as their computers: it's not like HTC isn't worse), I'm not going to give them the benefit of doubt, which is something you seem to be going out of your way to do. No, the piss poor camera in the first generations were not due to a "small engineering team"; a camera is a commodity. 3G, likewise. It's only now that the competition has caught up with it in usability that the iPhone is starting to compete in hardware -- features that the fanboy would claim as "irrelevant" until ... oops, time to upgrade again now that the iPhone 4 has a great camera and one of the best screens you can get. You're fooling yourselves.

How many of the people lining up for the 3G already had the first gen? 90%?

Re:lawl (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 4 years ago | (#32874640)

I wouldn't touch Apple's gilded cage with a 10 foot pole(unless someone for whom it isn't 'just working' pays me enough to touch it for them); but my impression of their strategy is that it is a mixture of cynical customer milking(you don't get margins like theirs otherwise) and a certain flavor of engineering perfectionism(which, on the one hand, is largely what allows them to get away with the first part; but can also bite them in the margins and the customer satisfaction: consider all the Time Capsules that would be alive today if they had gone with a super-cheap generic 12v brick instead of a more expensive, and thermal death prone, internal PSU...)

Re:lawl (5, Insightful)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 4 years ago | (#32874204)

I'm sorry, the app store is already flooded with developer who are unable to create software.

Re:lawl (2, Informative)

faedle (114018) | about 4 years ago | (#32874584)

I will debate the "not cutting in to Apple's iPhone user base" statement.

I know of three different "non-geeks" who had second and third generation iPhones who have switched to Android handsets. Two have switched to the Sprint EVO, one to a Verizon Droid handset (I don't remember which) in the last 30 days.

In all three cases, the reasons were simple. Their contracts with AT&T were up, and they were irritated at AT&T's issues so they went looking. In all three cases, they found features present in the Android handsets that were compelling (4G coverage, while spotty on the Sprint EVO with the tethering capability in one case, Verizon's rock-solid coverage in the other).

It's a bit early for the media and consulting houses to have picked up yet, but I suspect the story is the same: Apple introduced people to smartphones, and now that the market is ready a lot of non-techie types are frustrated with AT&T and looking for alternatives. And Android handsets are in a very good position right now to put the hurt on, and I think it is starting to happen.

Hell, even T-Mobile is beating off potential Android customers with a stick, if my recent visit to a local T-Mobile store to handle a customer service issue with my handset is any indication.

Re:lawl (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#32874378)

Yup. Thank goodness we're all using one-button mice!

Actually, as a usability expert, I really wish we were using one button mice. Well, not really. I wish Windows was designed to work with a single button mouse and that was the default type of mouse shipped with consumer systems. I'm also happy with variable-button mice which can become multi-button mice depending upon the software or user settings; but which default to a single button setup.

The truth is, a one button mouse setup leads to a great many usability improvements. Clicking the wrong mouse button is probably one of the most common mistakes seen in usability tests, and not just among novices. Even experts occasionally click the wrong one for a task. On top of that, the default of having multi-button mice means that software is designed and tested for that setup primarily and often exclusively. This results in software that is unusable with a single button mouse. You simply can't accomplish necessary tasks without multiple buttons. This absolutely sucks for anyone using any sort of alternate interface, like a tablet, voice command system, joystick, most interfaces for the disabled, etc. The advent of trackpads that you can click and multi-touch is alleviating the problem somewhat, but not near enough.

Since you brought it up, I just wanted to make sure you're aware of the implications. Apple doesn't promote a single button mouse. They don't even sell one anymore as far as I know. They promote a single button mouse default setup, with the ability to add more buttons for more advanced users. In that, I devoutly wish the rest of the industry would follow.

Re:lawl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874048)

This tripe is +4 insightful?

You Apple fanmods are pathetic. What the fuck.

Re:lawl (1)

Keebler71 (520908) | about 4 years ago | (#32874178)

Right...like when apple invented the GUI, mouse, tablet computer, touch screen, mp3 player ... oh wait...

Re:lawl (-1, Troll)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32873564)

Yeah, but aren't sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and non-CS undergraduates like, 90% of Apple's user base? Sure, the other 10% of us basically use it as a Unix that goes to sleep when you close the lid, wakes up when you open it again, and can actually do power management, but we're also the 10% that don't mind actually writing native code if necessary. Easy cell phone application development will probably be like web development in that its a former "nerd domain" that's socially acceptable and "cool" for non-nerds to play in.

Re:lawl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873606)

Easy cell phone application development will probably be like web development in that its a former "nerd domain" that's socially acceptable and "cool" for non-nerds to play in.

I sense a disturbance in the force, as if Steve Job's soul suddenly cried out "Do not want!" and "Well don't hold it like that then."

Re:lawl (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | about 4 years ago | (#32873812)

Actually, it strikes me as a "DO WANT" for Steve Jobs. He's targeting the trendy and faddish types for uptake and then slides the products into the more common-tier placement. Nerds are hot his primary target (just a happy and useful coincidence in OS X).

Re:lawl (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32873776)

I'm wondering why they needed to say "high school girls." Were they just over emphasizing being girl friendly, or did they actually make more of an effort with girls than boys?

Re:lawl (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32873814)

Well, if high schoolers are anything like they were when I was one, boys are more likely to take to programming while girls are more likely to spend time using the phone. If the boys who already program want to get into cell phone development, its not going to be that much of a stretch, even without this tool. If they want to encourage girls who aren't already interested in programming but want to make their phone more "personal", then this is probably a good way to start. I doubt its some sort of sexist plot, but how many 16 year old girls did you know who would want to write C code vs maybe some Javascript to spruce up their Geocities page? I see this as the same type of deal.

Re:lawl (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32874436)

Agreed, and it's all about perceptions as well. I knew plenty of guys at school who weren't into computers at all, but if you tell someone "this development kit makes it so easy, a teenage boy could use it" that's not a great endorsement, because the perception of most non-techies is that all teenage boys are "computer wizzkids". If you can say "look at what this group of teenage girls created", that takes the scary techie edge off (and I'm not suggesting that girls are any less competent here than boys, just that this is society's perception).

Re:lawl (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874616)

I know you have a *fairly* low uid and all, but, Geocities page... really?

Power to the (smart) masses? (-1, Offtopic)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 4 years ago | (#32873548)

Shouldn't the general population be in control of what the government is doing also? Although I think there should be a minimal level of intelligence involved (such as before, during and after general elections). Unless a magick tool/pill can take care of all that (and all the major side-effects have been identified and assessed).

Just in time... (4, Insightful)

tpstigers (1075021) | about 4 years ago | (#32873572)

... to contradict the previous story. Power to the people!

Re:Just in time... (1)

jo42 (227475) | about 4 years ago | (#32874138)

Can't wait for all the CrAppTastic crApps!

Re:Just in time... (1)

mcgrew (92797) | about 4 years ago | (#32874428)

Power to the people!

Isn't that what the executioner says in Florida, where they still use the electric chair?

I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (2, Interesting)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#32873574)

If this means the android market is gonna be filled up with apps made by toddlers and high-school girls.

Seriously though, props to google for making android development even more accesible, i just hope this doesnt result in milions upon milions of fart-apps and such, their largely unmoderated app-store is one of the reasons i want an android phone instead of an iphone, but this might become a tad painfull is left unchecked

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (5, Interesting)

rumith (983060) | about 4 years ago | (#32873624)

I don't think I understand you correctly: nobody forces you to install those millions of fart-apps! If they find their audience among the teens, why not? Do you really notice that the whole web is literally overwhelmed by pages of similar (i.e. non-existent) quality?
The problem is not that Android Market will be flooded by low-quality apps. The problem is that Android Market has pretty rudimentary app search and filtering capabilities to reduce signal to noise ratio. Sorry for the irony, but Google must build a decent search engine for Android apps.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (5, Insightful)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#32873754)

i'll just reply to you, since many others have already replied to me saying search etc..

I dont care if people want fart apps, or even milions of them, but if, when browsing an app-store, i end up wading through thousands of pieces of junk to find one or two actually good apps, that is annoying. I find this already happens a lot on the apple app-store, the mechanisms for searching etc. simply arent 'fast' enough for my taste, i spend too much time scrolling or whatever.

truth be told, i am very curious about android and the android market, i have no doubt that as soon as my contract is up for renewal i'll get a nice android phone

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32873806)

It's not that different from the Appstore on the iPhone, I'm sure most of those apps are junk as well. People tend to browse the most recent and popular lists primarily to find things. As that'll find most of the good ones, also if one has a specific need in mind, Google helps with that as well.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (2, Interesting)

orasio (188021) | about 4 years ago | (#32873850)

Ok. You want an easy way to find good quality apps.
Apple does that by restricting production. It might work.
Google should do that by smart ranking, even if they are not doing it well now, more apps doesn't mean it's going to be worse. In fact, Google is good at finding the good stuff in a sea of crap. A larger volume of data might be of help.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 4 years ago | (#32874244)

Apple does that by restricting production. It might work.

No it doesn't work. Have a 10 minute conversation to any app store developer and they'll tell you how hard it is for people to find your app due to the shear amount of crap floating out there. The featured lists and top 100 are kingmakers in the app world due to this; almost no one looks elsewhere for quality apps.

If android has this problem it's not a matter of closed or open; it's a matter of a lack of search and filtering

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32874524)

This seemed to be the most lacking area of the Android to me - given Google's search pedigree I was expecting all kinds of clever filters to help me find the right apps. In the end I decided it was easier to just use app review websites and forums to find the best apps, and to be honest it's not a major issue, just a little confusing it doesn't do this amazingly well right out of the box.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (2, Insightful)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32874500)

It's much easier to find apps using one of the app review websites than it is to use either Google's market or Apple's app store. Android makes this nice and simple with Google Goggles integration, so you find the app you want, snap a shot of its barcode with the phone camera and it will do the donkey work of finding the app. Alternatively you can use something like App Brain, where (I believe this is how it works, not used it myself) you have a login and you select the apps on your pc and your phone will just sync these later.

Both markets have their fair share of dross, but I have to say that so far I've been impressed particularly with the quality of what I've found for free on Android - I've not run into any situation yet where I couldn't find an app that did exactly what I wanted and was gratis.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 4 years ago | (#32874248)

What they probably need is a better voting system that properly ranks applications. If people is looking for the "best farting-sounds application" that what should be returned based on people's experiences and application ranking.
It's not like Google doesn't know how to do search and ranking.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32874570)

Ranking at the moment seems to be skewed anyway, on the one hand by all the people spamming their websites (who just automatically give 5 stars to every single app, presumably because if the app ranks well there's more chance you'll see their spam in the comments) and on the other hand people who fail to read the disclaimers such as "this app doesn't work on handset X for hardware reasons Y and Z" but they still give it one star because they have handset X (like buying a Windows PC and complaining it won't run OSX software). Maybe these balance each other out but really it seems like the ranking scores are just too unreliable to be any use - downloads are a slightly better indicator, but even then pretty worthless for niche apps.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874564)

Yes, the marketplace on Android sucks! Shame on you Google! Check out "APP Brain Marketplace" Browse apps online and sync with your phone. I'm just a happy user.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 4 years ago | (#32873630)

If this means the android market is gonna be filled up with apps made by toddlers and high-school girls.

The market is already filled up with piece of crap apps [androidzoom.com] . It's just that you never see them until they become popular on the marketplace. If the majority is only using the top 1% of applications on both Android Market and Apple App Store, does it matter that at the very bottom there are spam apps made by high-school girls or not?

i just hope this doesnt result in milions upon milions of fart-apps and such, their largely unmoderated app-store is one of the reasons i want an android phone instead of an iphone, but this might become a tad painfull is left unchecked

If some people want the fart apps, let them have their fart apps. Just don't spend money on fart apps and you'll be okay. Android Market has reviews and popularity ... how in the hell is that "unmoderated"?

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

Vectormatic (1759674) | about 4 years ago | (#32873798)

piece of crap apps [androidzoom.com]

Holy crap, that app made me smile and cry at the same time...

Android Market has reviews and popularity ... how in the hell is that "unmoderated"?

From what i understand, apple does remove some total crapware once in a while from the app-store, including all those "bikini girl pictures FREE" apps which just clog up the pipes for no added value what so ever, i thought the android marketplace is completely open to any and all apps. As much as i hate apple for their approval policies, some level of QA is probably a plus (and apple is taking it way to far)

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 4 years ago | (#32874160)

...including all those "bikini girl pictures FREE" apps which just clog up the pipes for no added value what so ever, i thought the android marketplace is completely open to any and all apps...

I don't understand, with the approval process (supposed to clean things up) in place how the hell such apps (and there are a lot of them) make it to the store ????

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

edmicman (830206) | about 4 years ago | (#32874638)

But what if I want "bikini girl pictures FREE" apps anyway? As long as they're not spyware or malicious, I don't see why *any* app should be kept out. Find ways for the cream to rise to the top, but don't necessarily keep anything out.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (2, Informative)

Missing.Matter (1845576) | about 4 years ago | (#32874324)

As much as i hate apple for their approval policies, some level of QA is probably a plus (and apple is taking it way to far)

The approval process is not so much about QA as it is about making sure your app doesn't compete with Apple's. Yes, they do check to make sure you're not using any undocumented APIs and that the app doesn't blatantly crash, but there is some real trash out there. They'll gladly let anything through, no matter how useless, including those that make a mockery of their own HIG.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32874612)

I wouldn't mind so much if Google gave me some tools and expected me to do a little work to get the apps I want. What I'd like to see are advanced search filters (date, downloads, rating, file size, maybe the stats for percentage of people who uninstalled the app - I'm sure they have those available) with the ability to save searchs and, perhaps just as importantly, the ability to block certain users or keyword matches (it seems 90% of the spam crap in the market place originate from a relatively small set of developers, if I could block those I'd instantly see improved results). These should be trivial for Google to implement.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874148)

This is the most brilliantly useless app I have seen.
I especially love that fact that it is called 'Meeting Stopper Pro'. One can only imagine what wonders are contained within the non-professional version? Perhaps it makes inappropriate fart noises throughout the meeting or starts playing porn once it thinks you are alone.

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

Xest (935314) | about 4 years ago | (#32873644)

There was a story the other day stating that Google intend to allow you to sign in to a desktop (presumably web) based version of the marketplace to remotely install apps on - kind of like you can use iTunes to install apps on your iPhone I guess.

I wouldn't be suprised if Google revamps the marketplace on the phone somewhat at the same time to be honest. It does seem to work quite well as high rated stuff tends to remain at the top and lower rated sinks to the bottom, but I agree, in the long run there will need to be slightly better categorisation of Android apps, particularly if this lot will be distributed via the marketplace!

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

delinear (991444) | about 4 years ago | (#32873654)

Well that's about the state of the Android market right now, but hopefully it will mean people with great ideas but limited technical knowledge will be able to contribute. I've pretty much accepted that if I want to find decent apps, the best bet is not to go via the market place but to use app review sites (and at least they mostly make this very painless by allowing me to snap a photo of the barcode and instantly locate the app).

Re:I might have to sway back and get an iphone.. (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | about 4 years ago | (#32873716)

But does it have a native 'card layout' ?

Moderate yourself (3, Insightful)

Tisha_AH (600987) | about 4 years ago | (#32873726)

It is like Slashdot. If you want to look at everything at -1 you can. Naturally you will see a bunch of crap.

For android applications you can always sort things by how popular they are and find the creme of the crop.

Who knows, you may be surprised by what application may be developed by a high school girl. To ignore the potential creativity of a vast swath of society is foolish. Maybe the killer app is one that targets high school girls.

Re:Moderate yourself (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | about 4 years ago | (#32873856)

Who knows, you may be surprised by what application may be developed by a high school girl.

My guess is: The same as operas written by computer geeks.

No, I don't mean the browser.

The basis of society as we know it is division of labour. Let people do what they are good at, and give the parts they aren't to someone else. We don't need 5 million nonsensical crap applications on the marketplace. What we need is a way to request applications. If 1000 people want a fart app and are willing to pay $0.99 for it, I'm sure someone will write one.

Right now, there's no way for the consumer to tell the market what you are looking for. Back when we came up with all this Internet thing, wasn't the fact that it makes bi-directional communication possible one of its best features? Instead of having only the big corporations being able to talk to the costumers via advertisement and press releases, the customer could talk back and the companies would listen?

Whatever happened to that? Wouldn't the app market with its thousands of small developers a fantastic place for this old dream? Tell them what you need, or what the available apps are lacking, and the chances that someone will set out to satisfy that need are better than ever before.

That would be a true innovation that drives the app store or marketplace or whatever you want to call it forward. Apple is too much into the uni-directional conversation for that to happen, Google could make it happen. Don't tell me that with all the very smart people they employ, nobody has dug up this idea from the 90s.

Re division of labor. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874094)

Providing a tool like this means it's EASIER for people
to do what they're good at. The key is that it lowers the barriers for them to
translate their domain knowledge into a shareable application.

Re:Moderate yourself (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 4 years ago | (#32874180)

I would argue that a developer is more likely to "get" your App needs from a bodged prototype created on this platform, than the usual arm-waving and vague specifications.

Furthermore, while it's wonderful to imagine the millions of hobby programmers jumping at the chance to develop my concept for a program that automatically locates waffle houses by GPS and texts my friends if I enter them, I think it's a fantasy. The mismatch between my enthusiasm for the project and the sheer tedium that would lie in coding it could only be realigned with hard cash I don't have. Much as I learned Perl to automate some particularly tedious job submission and monitoring, I'll be giving this a shot for Wafflefinder.

Re:Moderate yourself (1)

homer_s (799572) | about 4 years ago | (#32874296)

Right now, there's no way for the consumer to tell the market what you are looking for...Instead of having only the big corporations being able to talk to the costumers via advertisement and press releases, the customer could talk back and the companies would listen? Whatever happened to that?

It's called the market - the way the customers "talk back" to the producers is by choosing which products to buy (or not to buy); the feedback is pretty quick and much better than any other process that I can thing of.

Re:Moderate yourself (4, Insightful)

rumith (983060) | about 4 years ago | (#32874634)

You can't have a lot of kids knowing how to program tomorrow if you don't spark their interest with such a tool today. And IMO this will be great not only for attracting and educating future software engineers, but also to tap into the pool of active talented kids who are not going to be software engineers, ever. The kids who will be nuclear physicists, radio geeks, astronomy fans, journalists will also acquire basic programming abilities without distracting from their main specialty to learn a programming language or two, dive into a complex SDK and constantly work to keep these skills up to date.
In short, I think that App Inventor is pretty awesome.

Lingo anyone? (4, Insightful)

thnmnt (62145) | about 4 years ago | (#32873598)

This reminds me of the early 1990s trend of "programming for everyone", particularly Macromedia's Lingo in Director. Languages and environments that start this way quickly realize that the end products would be ever so slightly more appealing if they were more flexible. And flexibility is the end of simplicity. The 1.0 of this language is going to be fine for a few intrepid schoolgirls, but soon they're going to have to add basic programming concepts and structures which will leave most people scratching their heads. Haven't we already seen this dramatic arc with Director and Flash?

Re:Lingo anyone? (1)

migla (1099771) | about 4 years ago | (#32873652)

HS: "Lingo, dead!"
L: "Lingo *is* dead."

Re:Lingo anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873740)

HS: "Lingo, dead!"
L: "Lingo *is* dead."

"Dying", not "dead". Turn in your geek card, plzkthx.

Re:Lingo anyone? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 4 years ago | (#32874210)

No, dead [ytmnd.com] is correct. However, the robot's name is Linguo [wikia.com] , not Lingo. So get out! You're banned from making corrective posts on Slashdot! You, and your children, and your children's children -- for three months.

Re:Lingo anyone? (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about 4 years ago | (#32873878)

The thing about Flash though is there are some people who have stuck with it and made some really cool tools/products/games with it (everything from C64 [codeazur.com.br] emulators to word processors [adobe.com] not to mention tons of games - some of which are quite complex) using a serious dev toolkit like Flash Builder.

Hopefully this kind of tool inspires someone to dig deeper and pick something up something a bit deeper like the Android SDK

Re:Lingo anyone? (1)

alder (31602) | about 4 years ago | (#32873998)

Haven't we already seen this dramatic arc with Director and Flash?

This is not the first technology that is reinvented because, IMHO, there are no people around who remember how and why it has already failed...

Google (4, Insightful)

helix2301 (1105613) | about 4 years ago | (#32873608)

This is what is great about Google they offer different services to compete with Apple. Plus the whole point of creating your own apps made easy is just really cool and a great touch by Google. I think if this catches on this could be a big selling point for Google.

Re:Google (1, Flamebait)

Tom (822) | about 4 years ago | (#32873770)

errr... because?

Do you really think that one, even just one application of quality or merit will be created with this? There will be a billion "look ma, I click this button and something happens" apps. Aside from that?

We've been there. Visual programming had its place, back when it was done by nerds. There were games, serious applications, the whole nine yards. Turns it it's all shit. Beyond trivialities, you can't model anything worth writing a program for with boxes. Even Minesweeper is too complicated for that, let alone anything that actually gets you something done.

The video is exactly the kind of apps we'll be seeing. I don't see how that is going to be a selling point for the devices.

Re:Google (4, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | about 4 years ago | (#32874120)

>There will be a billion "look ma, I click this button and something happens" apps. Aside from that?

That's what they said about html because of its simplicity, but it turns out that most people's needs aren't met by commecial software and need something that's just not worth paying someone to develop.

There's always going to be a need for simple apps. I don't see this than being any different than VBA for apps or building front-ends in Access. Non-coders can learn these things, build prototypes or even little production apps, and be better off for it. I think it would be foolish to let Apple or WinMo take the lead in simple app development because it has the potential to be a big deal. I'm pleased to see that not only is Google not emulating Apple's lock down/walled garden approach, they are also promoting simplified development to end users!

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874198)

Your examples of HTML, VBA, and Access are not helping your case any.

HTML especially, because nowadays you don't need to know a scrid of it to make a little web site, and uhhh.. yah. Look at those.

Re:Google (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874208)

Actually, you'd be surprised what get's done in the building controls world with blocks and lines. It used to be that we could program in a specialized basic if we wanted, but there was also a compiler that took the output of a graphical programing tool into this version of basic (the controllers interpreted the basic directly). Now, they only offer the graphical part because nobody in the industry (the building controls managers and employees) understood the basic language part of it.

Don't get me wrong, the graphical tool was crap and if you wrote something complicated (and there were some impressively complicated things written), it got to be a huge mess. It is, however, still used today and it does quite a few practical things.

Re:Google (1)

Tom (822) | about 4 years ago | (#32874646)

Actually, you'd be surprised what get's done in the building controls world with blocks and lines.

Yes, but that is a dedicated setting. You're not doing general-purpose coding, are you? I'm not an expert, but AFAIK that is more comparable to editing a configuration file or a database than with programming.

Re:Google (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 4 years ago | (#32874232)

The point develop you're own app, which is something you can't do elsewhere. Especially with Iphone, where you have to fork 99$/year to do anything (even if you don't want to sell/publish apps) -- jail-broken phones aside --

Why is this an Apple story? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873610)

Can we just have a "Google" section already? This might as well be filed under Microsoft, with references being made to "Developers, Developers, Developers!"

But (1)

arcite (661011) | about 4 years ago | (#32873712)

Everything begins with an apple.

Re:But (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | about 4 years ago | (#32874150)

Everything begins with an apple.

Even sin. According to the Bible, anyway.

Who said the forbidden fruit was an apple? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 4 years ago | (#32874556)

Everything begins with an apple.

Even sin. According to the Bible, anyway.

Citation needed. All I see in the text itself is "do not eat of the tree". The common identification as an apple arises from a Latin pun [wikipedia.org] between malus meaning apple and malum meaning evil.

Re:But (1)

Idbar (1034346) | about 4 years ago | (#32874448)

Might as well have an "Alexander Graham Bell" and a "Thomas Alba Edison" sections then.

There's a hardware section and a mobile section already, why not removing the only trademark from the list, and add software and Network (Internet) sections.

For those of you complaining about "Linux" may change it for POSIX and everyone's happy.

Re:But (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874532)

Mobile makes sense, so why isn't this story there right now?

Also, did you mean "Thomas Alva Edison" ?

Re:Why is this an Apple story? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874418)

How about just a dancing, sweaty, screaming, fat guy logo?

Android needs a working MARKET, not more apps. (0, Troll)

pucko (68877) | about 4 years ago | (#32873648)

Android Market still feels like a rough beta-version due to two big reasons.

* Paid applications is _still_ not released in many countries.

* Way too much spam, hidden advertisement or illegal content.

More apps is not the solution, better quality is.

Re:Android needs a working MARKET, not more apps. (1)

hedwards (940851) | about 4 years ago | (#32873830)

Um, a lot of that is what people wanted. They didn't want to be told what they could and couldn't install. Hence you get a lot of junk, if you see something illegal you can flag it, but there isn't really a good compromise between open and highly manicured.

Just like Scratch (4, Interesting)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32873656)

I took a look at the demostration videos and whatnot, and the user interface seems to be a cross between XCode's interface builder and MIT's Scratch. The code is written by dragging "puzzle pieces" into place, just like in Scratch. However, I assume this uses Java rather than Squeak? Scratch is kind of a lot different than HyperCard, but, you know... whatever. If only my BlackBerry Storm hadn't turned me off smartphones forever, I might actually be inclined to give this a shot.

Re:Just like Scratch (1)

GweeDo (127172) | about 4 years ago | (#32873810)

So you let one crappy phone turn you off of all phones? Whatever you do...don't go watch The Last Airbender. It will make you irrationally think all movies are bad!

Re:Just like Scratch (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32873834)

I don't have enough of a reasonable need for smartphones anyway, even if they are good. I already saw Airbender, and honestly it was perhaps the least shitty movie Shamalamadingdong has made so far, even though it was a rather poor adaptation of the cartoon.

Re:Just like Scratch (4, Informative)

yelvington (8169) | about 4 years ago | (#32874016)

According to the documentation, [googlelabs.com] App Inventor is based on Open Blocks, which is in turn modeled after Scratch, and uses Kawa [gnu.org] (a Scheme implementation) to produce Java.

As for the Blackberry Storm ... it's best not to speak of these things.

We've tried that (2, Interesting)

dimethylxanthine (946092) | about 4 years ago | (#32873658)

We already tried enabling the general population to create own websites: myspace, geocities, shall I go on? Now, unless this tool is able to preserve other user's eyesight once the app is published... Hopefully Google has studied and learnt something from market history.

What Google and Apple should definitely try - is community/Karma based app publishing process ;-)

Re:We've tried that (4, Interesting)

yelvington (8169) | about 4 years ago | (#32874062)

Keep in mind that among the flood of horrid homepages with purple backgrounds, jumping frogs, blinking stars and background MIDI tunes, there also emerged hundreds of thousands of highly valuable niche Web resources created by highly motivated nonprofessionals ... and Google figured out a (community-powered) algorithm for finding the good stuff.

What Open Programming??? (0)

oh_my_080980980 (773867) | about 4 years ago | (#32873666)

RTFA!

Google has some cut and past development toolkit for idiots. Big freakin' deal. This is not the same as APPLICATION development.

The RunRev CEO is complaining that Apple is forcing them to use Apple's API to develop application. Shock horror.

How the hell does this have anything to do with each other.

Nice work on the FUD.

Re:What Open Programming??? (1)

kenshin33 (1694322) | about 4 years ago | (#32874416)

the CEO is not complaining about apple forcing THEME to use apple's api he's complaining about the fact that the new agreement will effectively push aside their product : The new agreement added a clause which required that applications be originally written in Objective-C, C++ or JavaScript. As revMobile applications are originally written in revTalk, not in one of these languages, their policy changes effectively prohibit revMobile on the iPhone/iPad. The new clause also prohibits frameworks and compatibility layers, which also describes revMobile in its present form. the key phrase here is "frameworks and compatibility layers" which apprently is the nature of revMobile (an interpreter of a sort)

scripting (4, Interesting)

gTsiros (205624) | about 4 years ago | (#32873694)

just give us proper scripting with proper exposure of the internals to the scripting language

like hp calculators have RPL.

i see stuff on the android market that would take 3 lines of scripting to accomplish... yet they are presented as "apps".

Re:scripting (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | about 4 years ago | (#32873758)

I thought you could get JRuby to run on Android, but did you mean something like AppleScript only for Android specifically?

Re:scripting (1)

Skuld-Chan (302449) | about 4 years ago | (#32873912)

There's a cool logo interpreter [google.com] for your pretty flower needs :).

Re:scripting (4, Informative)

ampathee (682788) | about 4 years ago | (#32873974)

Here [google.com] you go.

Re:scripting (1)

gTsiros (205624) | about 4 years ago | (#32874082)

cool, thanks

Titan, or mother earth? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32873696)

Anyone else notice that this will probably be shortened to GAIA? Hmm...

They forgot a few people (0)

jeffmeden (135043) | about 4 years ago | (#32873722)

User testing has been done mainly in schools with groups that included sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not CS majors.

How about including my 96 year old grandma, the guy who lives across the street and is always talking to his dog, and why not throw in my pet goldfish while we're at it. That should round out the testing.

Cross Platform (4, Interesting)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#32873736)

A simple App maker like hypercard was? It is supported on Windows, OS X, and Ubuntu. It also works with both Java 1.5 and 1.6. Way to go Google! You may have finally hit upon a great way to outcompete Apple in the mobile space. I just hope you're working on improving the Android Market in a big hurry.

put the kabosh? (-1, Troll)

falcon5768 (629591) | about 4 years ago | (#32873844)

On what? iPhone/Pad developments so easy 8-9 year olds are doing it. Oh you mean easier for people who dont want to spend money on the platform to use the tools. Well then thats not easier thats CHEAPER. Big difference.

What's amazing... (5, Informative)

amiran (923374) | about 4 years ago | (#32874334)

... is the fact, that the guy behind this project is Harold Abelson, author of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs! He described LISP "picture language" in the book as a useful learning concept. He also "...directed the first implementation of LOGO for the Apple II" which seems interesting in this case.

Sexists (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 years ago | (#32874370)

"high school girls"

Why the fluck do they do this? Why pick "girls" or "boys" don't they think we can think?

Re:Sexists (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 4 years ago | (#32874582)

"high school girls" Why the fluck do they do this? Why pick "girls" or "boys" don't they think we can think?

It's not a matter of whether or not women can think. Rather it's about exploiting the social trends and biases that result on gender disparity in the programming industry. Today, a girl in high school is 5-10 times less likely to become a programmer than a boy in the same high school. When trying to develop a tool that caters to people with no inherent ability or experience, then, in makes sense to target girls in your study group, maybe not exclusively, but primarily. Recognizing the current trends in society and using them is not an endorsement of them, nor an implication that one gender is inherently less suited to a task. The arrangement of our society is the primary factor pushing various gender disparities in particular professions (in both directions).

Apple does have Dashcode... (3, Informative)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 4 years ago | (#32874492)

I think Apple's thinking is that for simpler development, you can use HTML5. They actually have an already existing tool separate from XCode, that lets you pretty easily design a nice UI in HTML5 - it's called Dashcode.

It does require you install the developer tools (which are free).

That said I applaud Google for this effort, perhaps it could become a new standard for introductory programming classes in gradeschool/highschool.

This will only worsen the Android Marketpalce (1)

remin8 (791979) | about 4 years ago | (#32874528)

I don't see any real inovation coming from this. All it will do is increase the flood of generic and hobbiest apps in the Marketplace. The best I think we can hope for from this is that it gets more people interested in software development and the inovation spurred later by them.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...