Google launched the beta version today of its App Inventor for Android. The project, according to the New York Times, has been under development for a year with the input from a fair number of students. And despite the assertions of some in the tech sector today that this will just lead to the development of "crappy apps," I think it has great potential for classroom use.
The App Inventor has a WYSIWIG interface, with drag-and-drop capabilities, making it incredibly easy for students to use. Google's project was lead by Harold Abelson, a professor at MIT, who says the goal of the App Inventor "is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world."
MIT, huh. Consumers, not creators, eh.
I can't help but think of Apple's decision back in April to remove the Scratch viewer from the app store. Scratch is a programming language created by the MIT Media Lab, designed to help teach kids programming.
As the Scratch team wrote on their blog following their ouster from the app store, As we see it, there is nothing more important than empowering the next generation of kids to design, create, and express themselves with new media technologies.
I'm glad that Google agrees.
You can sign up for a beta invitation here.