Google is bringing Android software development to the masses, reports the New York Times. The company will offer a software tool, starting July 12, that is intended to make it easy for people to write applications for its Android smart 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 computer science majors. The thinking behind the initiative, Google said, is that as cell phones increasingly become the computers that people rely on most, users should be able to make applications themselves. “The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project. The project is a further sign that Google is betting that its strategy of opening up its technology to all kinds of developers eventually will give it the upper hand in the smart-phone software market. Its leading rival, Apple, takes a more tightly managed approach to application development for the iPhone, controlling the software and vetting the programs available. “We could only have done this because Android’s architecture is so open,” Abelson said, adding that the project aims to give users, especially young people, a simple tool to let them tinker with smart-phone software, much as people have done with computers…

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Denny Carter

Dennis has covered higher education technology since April 2008, having interviewed some of the most recognized IT pros in U.S. colleges and universities. He is always updating eCampus News with the latest in pressing ed-tech issues, such as the growing i