App Inventor for Android is designed to help people with no computer programming experience write applications for smartphones based on Google's Android open-source mobile operating system.
Google July 12 launched App Inventor for Android, a tool people without
programming knowledge can use to build applications for smartphones based on
the company's open-source Android platform.
While Android was designed for software programmers who speak geek, App
Inventor is a sort of software Lego set for amateur programmers who can sign up
to use the tool here
with a Gmail account.
Instead of writing code, users will drag and drop blocks, which are
ready-made code sets, on a programming palette to construct their applications.
These blocks include images, sound, text and screen arrangement.
See Google's demo video here,
in which an amateur programmer connects her
Google Nexus One to her desktop PC to build an application with App Inventor.
The App Inventor Web page
in Google Labs states that the
tool provides building blocks for "just about everything you can do with
an Android phone," as well as blocks for storing information, repeating
actions and communicating with Web services.
While the Web page said users can use App Inventor to construct games or
draw pictures, users may also do more useful things such as creating a quiz application
to help classmates study for a test. Users may even take advantage of Android's
text-to-speech capabilities, for example to make the phone ask the test
App Inventor also features a GPS-location
sensor to let users build applications that know their location. Those who
already command some Web programming knowledge can use App Inventor to write
Android applications that talk to Twitter, Amazon.com and other Websites and
However, Google's intent is to let average consumers build their own applications
for the smartphones they use every day. This is something that has never yet caught
on among desktop computer users, despite tools such as Basic, Logo and Scratch.
scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who led the project as a
visiting faculty member at Google, said more than a year ago on Google's Research Blog that
several major universities, including Harvard, MIT, University
of California at Berkeley
and the University of Michigan,
were testing App Inventor.
Abelson told the New York Times
that Google tested the tool
with "sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university
undergraduates who are not computer science majors."
Developers have written close to 100,000
applications for the Android platform.
If App Inventor catches on among nonprogrammer
Android phone users, it could boost that number considerably.
At the least, App Inventor could increase awareness of Android as an
alternative to proprietary platforms such as Apple's iPhone.
The next logical leap for App Inventor would be an App Inventor Mashup
Maker. In such an instance of classic crowdsourcing, Google would provide tools
allowing users to build mashups, or application chimeras.