March 1, 2015

App Inventor for Android

Google just released App Inventor for Android, a web based application builder that will help aspiring young developers create Android applications with just few drags and drops and no need to learn Java or type one line of code. There are plenty of tutorials and samples to help set up your system and start building the first app. Google also set up a Google Group to share experiences or get help. The builder is web-based but it requires an Android phone connected by USB to your Windows or Mac computer.

This is a great tool for education and this is what Google wants this to be used for. There is a form to fill out to get access where you are asked to mention your school or affiliation, as well as other information. It would seem that the App Inventor team will review and approve applications; access is not open yet.

I find it strange that early posts about App Inventor (Gizmodo, TechCrunch) seem a little worried that it will pollute the Android Market. After reading all the tutorials and help, I could not see anywhere mentioned that you can publish created apps in the Android Market, and there is nothing about linking the tool to an Android developer account. Just because you make an app, doesn’t mean it gets published in the market.  App Inventor would be primarily used in classrooms to spark interest in software development. Young app developers will be able to create, test and share apps with the class or school. A great idea that will help to nurture the talented Android developers of tomorrow.

“The educational perspective that motivates App Inventor holds that programming can be a vehicle for engaging powerful ideas through active learning. As such, it is part of an ongoing movement in computers and education that began with the work of Seymour Papert and the MIT Logo Group in the 1960s.”

Here is a short video of App Inventor in action:



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111 Comments

  1. @AndroidPhilip
    Reply

    First off, great article. I think this was intended for school use but people will make stupid little apps and think they are cool and decide to open a developer account and post them to the android market.

    • Raphaels
      Reply

      Thank you!

      There are already plenty of stupid little apps… they didn't wait for this to get them on the Market! :-)

      • Cary
        Reply

        Exactly! This is simply a great tool to learn Android. It could also be used folks that don't know Java, but would like to create their own apps.

    • danger
      Reply

      I see where you are coming from.

      I have Java development experience, but I still like this. I hope that I can use the visual-stuff for prototyping, and use hands-on coding (from within App Inventor itself) for anything that Google didn’t build in. It would be nice if it could bridge both worlds. We will have to see.

      I understand the concern about SLA. That said, I would rather have that, and not have Google be a dictator. Hopefully the Market will improve in-ways that make it really easy to find exactly what we want, and never-see what we don’t want. Somebody has got to be using those “soundboards”. Not me, but somebody. Maybe…

  2. Josh
    Reply

    I'm torn on this. If it get's more people interested in Android then that's great. My fear is that it will end up being FrontPage for Apps and allow people to turn out worthless, half baked apps. There are already plenty of these out there without such a low barrier to entry. Still, I plan on checking it out. It's still to early to tell what affect this will have on the Marketplace, if any.

  3. Zack
    Reply

    Great for Google, not so great for Android users. Still, it's pretty cool that a 5-year-old can now build an app. :)

  4. Austin
    Reply

    I think if google can limit developer rights (although that seems a bit more MS or Apple than google) this could be a good opener to basic programming for a lot of students and people not well versed in scripting. I know plenty of people who have creative ideas that are pipe dreams because they don't have a programming knowledge base to draw from. As long as there are restrictions to what can be posted in the market, this could open the door for a lot of creative talent. I didnt notice a link for posting to the market so maybe google is packaging them separate from us coders in an attempt to maintain market balance.

  5. Nick
    Reply

    Can you actually write your own code too? At least with FrontPage you could customize the HTML. Being a professional developer, anything that makes my life easier is a good thing. But in the end I would need to add my own custom code somewhere.

  6. Robert M
    Reply

    I look at it 2 ways. 1) I can be really useful for prototyping. 2) It can be really useful for design layout and site flow control and putting in the basic plumbing as long as they have a way to edit the code underneath so I can add custom code it will be great.

    • james
      Reply

      I agree with your comment! I’m new to this… did you know if there is a way to edit or add custom code to Google App Inventor? Thanks for your help.

      James

  7. @Joecruzsb
    Reply

    Yes, there is the fear of flooding the market with useless and premature apps. But google has something here. For one, this could make a developers life easier. Number two, this could help bring some creativity to apps from the perspective of non-developers. And if this would be open to the general public, why not make a community that has its own market with these Inventor-made-apps (that would be cool). That way you would not have to register as a developer to get your app around. Just a thought.

  8. Ascientists
    Reply

    Everybody who says something like "uuuh then all those stupid little script kiddies who can't even script will fllod my pecious market with their worthless apps" is a total douche. I'm a scientist, I know!

  9. @TheBrownWelsh
    Reply

    has anyone actually tried this yet? would be nice to get some feedback from someone who isnt blind or biased (no offence. Well, no intentional offence).

  10. ozydious
    Reply

    I just sent off my invite like 5 minutes ago and I’m REALLY looking forward to this.

    I’m 15 years old and am starting a course in computer programming at college next month. This will really help when it comes to projects and coursework :D

    THANK YOU GOOGLE! Once again the Google team has prevailed!

    • Greg West
      Reply

      No this app will not teach you much about actually writing code. It is like MS VB but at least you can hack on the code there.

  11. Ken Hirst
    Reply

    Seems the very first line of the article is misleading. Google has not released App Inventor, they are just allowing a select few to try it out. I just signed up, and the message that came back is MAYBE I will get to try it in a few weeks.

  12. Adam Wade
    Reply

    hi i think it would be a great tool and hell someone posted earlier to solve the homemade apps in the well developed and free market add another category for homemade (inventor made apps) that idea is awsome cuz it opens up the market to a person that doesnt have the right teaching to make a high quality app to still have there ideas shared hell maybe even go a step ahead and say HELLO GOOGLE!!!!!!!!!!!good idea make the homemade app center to where if an app meet a certain requirement and gets x amount of downloads a chance to move on to the free or paid app category. all in all it would be a bold move and it would make android 100 times better than apple

  13. Nick
    Reply

    Hmmm… apps for underprivileged kids? Give me a break… if a kid (or anyone in the kids family) can afford $30/month for a data plan, then they are not that underprivileged.

    This tool will be great for people with good ideas and no java skills. It will be up to the consumer to educate themselves on programs (kind of like the rest of the computer world when it comes to programs).

  14. curtis turner
    Reply

    I want to have a app for my luxury apartment locator company, and want to know how do I go about getting one.

  15. Jimmyrnr
    Reply

    I have had an voice app idea for about 25 years and have not had the knowledge to write the code. I don’t know what it would cost for someone to design, implement, and market but this will give me a chance to learn how to develop it on my own. Or at least complete the idea and have a software developer complete a working app to put on the market. Although I don’t know if I can afford to pay a software developer to do that for me. But if I get to create on my own a working app. Hurray for me.

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