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Google Pulls Plug On Programming For the Masses 236

theodp writes "Google has decided to pull the plug on Android App Inventor, which was once touted as a game-changer for introductory computer science. In an odd post, Google encourages folks to 'Get Started!' with the very product it's announcing will be discontinued as a Google product. The move leaves CS Prof David Wolber baffled. ' In the case of App Inventor,' writes Wolber, 'the decision affects more than just your typical early adopter techie. It hurts kids and schools, and outfits like Iridescent, who use App Inventor in their Technovation after-school programs for high school girls, and Youth Radio's Mobile Action Lab, which teaches app building to kids in Oakland California. You've hurt professors and K-12 educators who have developed new courses and curricula with App Inventor at the core. You've hurt universities who have redesigned their programs.' Wolber adds: 'Even looking at it from Google's perspective, I find the decision puzzling. App Inventor was a public relations dream. Democratizing app building, empowering kids, women, and underrepresented groups — this is good press for a company continually in the news for anti-trust and other far less appealing issues. And the cost-benefit of the cut was negligible-believe it or not, App Inventor was a small team of just 5+ employees! The Math doesn't make sense.'"
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Google Pulls Plug On Programming For the Masses

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  • by zget ( 2395308 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @12:44PM (#37045730)
    Anyone who still does anything serious with Google's products kind of deserves it. Google has been for years putting some product up just to completely discontinue it soon enough. Unlike desktop software, Google discontinuing product means that you really cannot use it anymore. Google is really hurting itself and their image with this shit and ensuring competitors products like from Microsoft will continue to be widely used.
  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @12:51PM (#37045834) Homepage Journal

    Yeah, I was just at a workshop today where the presenter was bitterly remarking that some history-related search function she was going to show us had just been yanked by Google.

    App Inventor always seemed like a toy to me, not really capable of even making, say, an app for checkers. That said, it provided a really nice GUI for doing event/handler coding, easy enough for kids to understand.

    I was debating teaching it to teachers... glad I didn't now.

  • by jaymz2k4 ( 790806 ) <> on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @12:52PM (#37045846) Homepage

    Democratizing app building, empowering kids, women, and underrepresented groups

    I said this when it came out and I'll say it again - where is the real demand for this from these people the author is quoting? I've yet to come across someone itching to create apps but with no desire to learn development. Those people who do want/think they want/have a need for an app have just zero interest in spending the (however small) effort doing it themselves and prefer to lean on techy friends.

  • by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @01:48PM (#37046542)

    Yeah, I'm not sure how making it open source counts as "pulling the plug." The summary is extremely misleading, to say the very least. I wouldn't even be surprised if Google continues developing AI after open sourcing it. In fact, they mention that they are looking to do precisely that, and because of its educational usefulness.

    Seems like /. should be praising this move by Google. If Google doesn't release source code (see: Honeycomb) they're evil, and if they do... they're evil. I'm guessing someone just doesn't like Google. My guess is they don't want to develop it anymore because it just isn't powerful enough to be used for real app development, but they still want people to be able to use it. Good for Google.

  • by Wovel ( 964431 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @02:47PM (#37047270) Homepage

    Google has not released much if any of their failed projects.

    They claim to be here, but we should wait and see since their track record on promises is pretty dismal.

  • by __aawbkb6799 ( 977329 ) on Wednesday August 10, 2011 @04:29PM (#37048606)

    All you have to do is marry it, and it won't go down any more.

    mod parent up!

Man is an animal that makes bargains: no other animal does this-- no dog exchanges bones with another. -- Adam Smith