Once upon a time, applications came from large software companies. Not anymore, especially in the mobile space where application development has been something that individuals complete on their lunch hour, in part due to the work of folks like Google.
Once upon a time, applications came from large software companies. Not anymore, especially in the mobile space where application development has been something that individuals complete on their lunch hour, in part due to the work of folks like Google.Google announced App Inventor for Android, a visual programming tool designed to help individuals churn out Android apps. Coding in App Inventor involves moving blocks about on screen and editing their App Inventor, and the tool supports navigational services, such as GPS; telephony functions texting and speech-to-text conversion; and Web services, such as Twitter.
Google had a couple of reasons for announcing this product. The first is to promote use of its Android mobile operating system, which has been moving from a consumer device to a product used in many businesses. In addition, the number of applications available with mobile devices has become the cornerstone in many vendors' marketing plans. To date, Apple has been the leader in this space, however, the rigidity of its development environment compared to the flexibility offered by Google could soon change that equation.
The emergence of these user developed mobile applications presents challenges to small and medium businesses. In most cases, they do not have the tools to control what users put on their personal devices. When these phones are used to access corporate data, then they become potential security holes for a couple of reasons. Corporate data is now traveling outside the office walls. In addition, employees may unwittingly download malware as they tinker with their new apps. At a minimum, companies need to monitor the use of these applications while they try to figure out how to balance their potential benefits versus the possible security risks.