Google App Inventor Simplifies Android Programming - InformationWeek
10:15 AM
Connect Directly

Google App Inventor Simplifies Android Programming

A new Web-based visual development tool promises to let anyone create apps for Android devices.

In contrast to Apple's increasingly restrictive rules for iOS developers, Google is lowering the barriers for those interested in creating Android applications.

Google on Monday announced App Inventor for Android, a forthcoming Web-based visual programming tool that allows users to create applications for Android devices without any programming experience.

While App Inventor apps may lack the sophistication of Android apps coded by professional developers, they can nonetheless make use of a variety of powerful features. App Inventor provides access to GPS, accelerometer, and orientation data, telephony services like phone calls and texting, speech-to-text services, contact data, persistent storage, and Web services such as those provided by Amazon and Twitter.

Some of these services aren't for technophobes -- TinyWebDB, which stores data on the Web using Google App Engine, requires some software installation and Python text file editing. But App Inventor really does allow programming novices to create functional Android apps.

Some of the sample apps include: DroidMuni, which shows schedules for the San Francisco transit system; ParkIt, which records the location of the user's car; DrumKit, a basic beat making app and educational tool; Super Hero Game, a quiz game; and Where's Speedo, an app that allows two or more users to find each other by sending location data.

Coding in App Inventor involves moving blocks about on screen and editing their properties where appropriate. App Inventor is based on MIT's Open Blocks Java library. Google says the tool builds upon the work of Seymour Papert and the MIT Logo Group.

Papert did pioneering work in the field of computer science education and Google sees App Inventor as a tool for educators as well as those interested in easier software development.

Apple last year made much of the fact that there were far more iPhone apps available than there were apps on other mobile platforms. It still has the lead with about 200,000 apps, but the marketing value of boasting about app count has been declining as the Android app count has risen.

The number of apps available in the Android Market is almost 100,000, according to AndroLib, about ten times as many as a year ago. And with App Inventor, that number is likely to rise even faster. Mobile platform differentiation going forward will probably shift toward debates about app quality and security.

Those interested in using App Inventor are invited to sign up using their Gmail address. Google says it will be granting access in coming weeks.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
Digital Transformation Myths & Truths
Transformation is on every IT organization's to-do list, but effectively transforming IT means a major shift in technology as well as business models and culture. In this IT Trend Report, we examine some of the misconceptions of digital transformation and look at steps you can take to succeed technically and culturally.
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll