AppleInsider reported on a new patent filed by Apple Inc. The patent is for an app development platform that does not require the need to “understand or access computer code.” The patent acknowledges that understanding how to code has previously been a barrier for entry: if you don’t know your way around Objective-C you currently can’t develop iOS apps using Apple’s development kit. The authors of the patent recognize some existing tools that “bridge the gap” for people who can’t currently code, such as web page development tools — noting that these tools still require some level of programing language know-how. The goal of the patented development kit is to further eliminate the barriers to entry for developers, as well as to allow more experienced developers to easily incorporate animated content.
There already is software available that attempts to remove barriers to entry to app development, such as YoYo Games’ GameMaker. I’ve used development kits like GameMaker in the past. Even if you never write a line of code, many tasks require knowledge of the abstract concepts behind programming. While it makes it easier to create a program that will run, if you do not know what you’re doing you’re not going to come up with much.
It seems like this patent is a jab at Adobe. Adobe Flash Professional is a platform that allows developers to build animations (as well as interactive apps by using Adobe’s proprietary ActionScript language). Although Apple has not allowed iOS devices to play Flash files directly, Flash content can exported to iOS, which is a feature that Apple initially fought to remove. If this patent becomes a product, Apple would be offering competing platform for interactive animated content on the iOS.
What would such a platform mean for developers? By lowering the barrier to entry for programming it could make app development ubiquitous in the same way easy-to-use blogs popularized self-published writing on the web. This software could also devalue hired coders, removing the incentive to hire skilled employees if anyone can drag and drop widgets onto a screen. There’s no word on how much the kit would cost. Apple charges $99 a year for their current SDK, Adobe Flash Professional CS5.5 costs $699, and the minimum price for developing an app for Jailbroken devices won’t cost you a penny.
If you aren’t currently a developer but could develop any app you wanted, what would it be? Let us know in the comments section below.