DIY With the Android App Inventor

DIY With the Android App Inventor

Some have dubbed the latest smartphones "app phones." After all, the redefinition of the smartphone from the days of Windows Mobile and PalmOS has been the sheer number of helpful, effective, yet generally simple apps that are in online markets. Now, with App Inventor for Android, there's a chance that John or Jane Q. Public can write their own.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Google has been testing the App Inventor in schools for a year. User testing, the Times said, has been done with the following groups: sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates "who are not computer science majors."

Google appears to be aiming this at non-programmers who might might to build their own app. Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project, said that "The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world."

It sounds a lot like Visual Basic, in terms of how easy it might be to create an app. Here's how Google describes it:
To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer. App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior.
This is just another extension of Google's push for openness on its Android platform. While this sort of development tool might lead to a flood of noisemaking apps in the Android Market, it can also be used to create useful, simple apps.


One such example in the article is an app that is sort of an Android version of the "I've fallen and I can't get up" device. The app uses the phone’s accelerometer to sense a fall, and if the person did not rise or press an on-screen button within a time limit, the program automatically texts or calls a designated person.

The only problem is, the App Inventor for Android is in closed beta. You have to sign up here. As Google and Apple try to win the wallets of consumers, it seems Google wants to win consumers' coding fancies, as well.

One question, though: will this coding system will work on devices that allow no sideloading of apps (meaning apps that do not come from the Android Market, ahem, AT&T)? After all, you will need to test your app.

Watch a video on the new App Inventor for Android:

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Okay... look at this:

 

"when"... "do"...  "call"... "set"....  tons of objects and properties.    "No programming skill required"?

That looks harder to read than VB, and would probably require as much training or reading/research to generate any "real" application.  I'd hate to see what you have to do when you need to do something complicated like add support for another protocol.

There are several other projects like this already in existence.  Illumination Software Creator is somewhat similar, as it allows you to lay things out all your logic and forms graphically and then it generates portable code in multiple languages, which can then be run on any platform.

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I can't see the pic... but I recognize the programming speak lol

Programming is not meant for the average joe lol It is not fun, and it is not easy. It takes a lot of time and patience and skill to make something worthwhile.

Sometimes i've thought about getting back into programming... but then I remember how tedious it was lol

Maybe someday i'll give it an other shot lol

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Ok... now I can see the picture! And that looks even more complicated than normal programming lol

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Personally, I fell in love with the Newton Toolkit, the development environment of choice for the Newton MessagePad. A few cranky old crustaceans wrote a C compiler for it, but that language was pretty much the opposite of NewtonScript: C was created to easily produce memory leaks, and NS was largely free from such leakage.

It was the nicest programming environment I've ever used. It came with a simulated MessagePad screen, on which you could drag user interface components. Thanks to its highly OOP nature, they already had behaviors and were working objects. To do what you wanted, you would attach scripts for pendown or penup actions, or others. Tethered to your Mac, running a program would report exactly what was going wrong and where it was going wrong, highlighting it for you in the project text file.

NTK was an exemplar of an easy-to-start, powerful-as-you-desired programming tool. No paths, no strange compiler errors, a minimum of voodoo that you had to go through to get a project working... too bad Apple "accidentally" sold the only factory in the universe capable of making the MessagePad's processor.

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