Google unrolled a new software program today allowing people to design their own apps for Android.
Google App Inventor allows users to create their own apps by splicing together different combinations of images or “blocks”, each meant to represent a certain function and each in-lieu of developing code.
For example, a person could use the GPS-location-sensor block to help remember where they parked their car. Or they could use a block that tells their phone to text their loved ones, “I miss you” every three hours. Or, they could splice the two blocks together to create an app that texts loved ones their location every three hours.
According to the App Inventor Web page, “The App Inventor team has created blocks for just about everything you can do with an Android phone, as well as blocks for doing "programming-like" stuff-- blocks to store information, blocks for repeating actions, and blocks to perform actions under certain conditions. There are even blocks to talk to services like Twitter.”
The App Inventor team has been working on the tool for about a year, and it has previously been opened for testing by schoolchildren and college students, none of whom are computer science enrollees.
Google hopes that making the programming foundation available to the masses will help speed app development and bring fresh new app ideas to the table.
With the new tool users can begin today and start making games like WhackAMole, draw pictures , or develop apps with educational and informational merit. For example, “You can create a quiz app to help you and your classmates study for a test. With Android’s text-to-speech capabilities, you can even have to phone as the questions aloud.”
The App developer requires no programming knowledge, “You visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behavior.”