Google's App Inventor software for quickly creating Android smartphone apps is already pulling in positive reviews, and early concerns about the flexibility and general capabilities of the development kit look to have been relatively unfounded. Robert Oschler has been in touch to describe his experience with App Inventor: he put together a chat-bot style text to speech app with Twitter integration, and it took him little over a day of tinkering.
AppEliza is a free ELIZA style therapist chat-bot for Android phones. You talk to it and tell it your problems, and it responds via Text To Speech. It can also echo your conversation to a Twitter account. AppEliza incorporates Google's speech recognition web service and the Eyes-Free Text To Speech package, the former is part of every Android phone and the later is a free download from the Android Marketplace.
The excitement here isn't the app since AppEliza is a simple pattern based chat-bot that reacts to trigger words and phrases, mainly those dealing with feelings and family, and uses the power of ambiguity to "fake it" the rest of the time. The excitement is due to AppInventor, the tool that was used to create AppEliza in a single day, except for the Twitter support that I added to it this morning and that took a little over an hour.
Hyperbole is a huge problem on the web but I feel confident as a veteran developer to call AppInventor one of the best rapid development tools I have ever used and I am astonished at how fast I am able to create Android applications.
Not yet in the Android Market, you can download the AppEliza .apk file here and check out the sort of Twitter integration that's possible here. If you've tried App Inventor we'd be interested to hear from you; let us know in the comments.