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: