Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DIY App Inventor For Android

Google is offering a free software tool for non-developers to build their own Android applications. The free software, called Google App Inventor for Android, has been under development for a year. User testing has been done mainly in schools with groups that included sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not computer science majors.

"The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world," said Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is on sabbatical at Google and led the project.

The Google project, Mr. Abelson said, is intended to give users, especially young people, a simple tool to let them tinker with smartphone software, much as people have done with computers. Over the years, he noted, simplified programming tools like Basic, Logo and Scratch have opened the door to innovations of all kinds. Microsoft's first product, for example, was a version of Basic, pared down to run on personal computers.

Google's App Inventor is a visual programming language for creating mobile phone applications on Android devices. It provides both a great way to learn how to program and, arguably, the fastest method for creating mobile apps in the world.

App Inventor allows even non-programmers to create apps. But it is also a valuable tool if you are already a programmer, the tool's visual nature and high-level components significantly increase the speed by which you can develop apps and prototypes.

App Inventor is a block-editing tool similar to the programming environment scratch developed at MIT.

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