In the June 2010 issue of Juiced.GS, I argue that Apple’s mobile products could not be any more different in spirit than their original consumer computer, the Apple II, with regard to application development. The manual of every Apple II product, including the last Apple IIe sold in 1993, encouraged every user to write their own programs to make their computer do exactly what they need it to. By contrast, Apple not only shields their mobile users from how to make an app, but controls their developers by deciding which apps they want users to even see. In that article, I write, “How great would it be if Apple put as much thought into making it easy for users to develop their own iPhone applications — giving everyone the possibility of making it do truly new things for their needs — as they do into the iPhone UI itself?”
Well, someome at Google gets it (or reads Juiced.GS); they did exactly that for their Android mobile device platform, with App Inventor. App Inventor was created by Google and now maintained by MIT. It’s app development for everybody, no programming required. I haven’t checked it out yet, and have no idea if it’s any good or lives up to its promise, but I already love it on principle alone.