App Inventor

MIT revives the Android App Inventor

If you've got a great idea for an Android app but are somewhat lacking in the coding skills requires to create one, Google's Android App Inventor is a great way to get your hands dirty. At least it was, until Google pulled the plug on the service last year, giving registered users time to download their projects before hand. In a fit of charity, they posted the open source code for the web and desktop software to let anyone host and run their own clone of the service - a challenge which the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has heartily embraced.

Google App Inventor Discontinued, Will Become Open Source Instead

Many of you may not know much about App Inventor. This was a tool that was very exciting when it was first announced by Google Labs and it was made available to the public last December in a beta test. Basically Google created a program that would help users with zero coding skills or knowledge of any sort to build Android applications using the App Inventor tool. This was one of many great things that came from Google Labs.

Google App Inventor now open for all

Google's App Inventor has exited its closed-beta, meaning the drag & drop Android app creator tool is now open to anybody with a Google account. Announced back in July 2010, App Inventor requires no real programming knowledge, instead using preset functionality blocks that can be shuffled around to create software. Despite that simple premise, the apps themselves can be just as complex as those coded from scratch; titles can be capable of GPS awareness, integration with the Android handset’s phone functionality, internet connectivity and more. You can log in and try App Inventor here. [youtube 8ADwPLSFeY8]

App Inventor gets early developer thumbs-up

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.

Google App Inventor makes Android app creation drag & drop

Google has unveiled App Inventor, a straightforward way for would-be developers who lack programming skills to create software that will run on Android smartphones.  Similar to the create-your-own-game software of many years ago, App Inventor uses preset functionality blocks that together represent pretty much everything that an Android phone is capable of; by shuffling those blocks around and setting some basic parameters you should be able to create your own app. Games, information apps and other content are all possible, with titles capable of GPS awareness, integration with the Android handset's phone functionality, internet connectivity and more.  According to the NYTimes, the company has been testing App Inventor on "sixth graders, high school girls, nursing students and university undergraduates who are not computer science majors" which should give you an idea of the sort of ability level required. [youtube 8ADwPLSFeY8]