App Inventor: the electronic napkin for designing apps

What excites me is the prototyping capabilities of App Inventor. Suddenly you have an electronic napkin for sketching out app ideas. Having a semi-working, interactive app is huge in terms of formulating ideas and getting them across to others. Like new terminology and abstractions, it gives people a way to talk and riff on ideas.

In a broader economic sense, it enables a bunch of smart, creative people to get involved in something that they’ve pretty much had to leave to the programmers. Consider two  twenty-somethings sitting around in their kitchen drinking a beer. They start talking and come up with a great idea for an app. One dude says, “We should really do it!”. The other says, “but who would we hire to program it.” The first dude takes a chug of beer, “Oh yeah, forget it.”

Now envision a world with App Inventor. The idea comes up and now the second dude (actually a dudette) says “this is cool. Let me get my laptop and we can build a prototype for it TONIGHT.”  They stay up building the prototype and in the process refining their ideas and getting EXCITED. Their wild idea has manifested itself into something tangible (well, virtually tangible). Not a complete, perfect app, but something that will spur them on, something they can show others and get feedback on, something they can show to angel funders!

They live happily ever after. Dudette even asks Dude to marry him, if he’ll stop working on the computer so much.