App Inventor has great potential to transform Computer Science education. It is the most motivating tool for engaging students with computing that I've seen, and I've been teaching Computer Science for over twenty years!
I first taught App Inventor in 2009 when Google ran the first App Inventor pilot at a few universities, including USF. The course is a core course that satisfies USF's Math requirement. Many take the course because of their fear of Math, most arrive with zero programming experience. The students come from History, Literature, Politics, Design, Business, and just about every major at USF.
Within a few minutes, students are able build apps for phones and tablets. This is incredibly motivating and empowering, and leads to a student-driven learning process in which the students spend hours in the lab working on projects. Often, I have to kick people out of class when the next class arrives. The students build interesting apps with real-world utility. And they improved their problem solving skills and knowledge of computer science immeasurably.
This course helped me see how powerful modern technology really is. Before this class, I never in a million years thought that creating apps for phones was so accessible and simple to create/test. I now have a huge amount of respect for professional computer programmers and the people who program very complex applications for any device. I enjoy learning about computers much more because of this class, but I am also very intimidated by how gigantic the computing world is.
I'm often asked by teachers if they should try App Inventor in the classroom instead of Scratch, Alice, Lego Mindstorms, or a more traditional programming experience like Python? My emphatic answer is YES! The key is this: (young) people love their phones, the phones are practically an extension of their bodies. The idea that they can customize and build new software for this most beloved device is incredible to them! Animations and robots are cool, but with App Inventor you can build anything, including apps that directly improve your everyday life (and those of your friends).
Couple this high-level of motivation with a visual "building block" method of programming designed by Google engineers, and you have a tool that can change not only how apps are developed, but who develops them.