Android Gets a Build-Your-Own-App App

By  |  Sunday, July 11, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Got an idea for a smartphone app? If you’ve got an Android phone you might be able to build it yourself, thanks to App Inventor for Android, a new Google Labs program for Windows, OS X, and Linux that’s designed to make building Android programs as easy as piecing blocks together.

Steve Lohr’s story in the New York Times makes it sound sensational; here’s a video from Google showing a lady creating her first App Inventor app:

App Inventor is in closed beta at the moment, and Google says it’ll let folks in “soon”–you can sign up here. As you’ll see if you fill out the sign-up form, Google sees the program as an educational tool of particular interest to teachers and students.

It’s an exciting idea that’s more than slightly reminiscent of HyperCard, the brilliant visual programming tool that was a big deal on the Mac more than twenty years ago, and which is missed to this day. HyperCard or something similar would be a boon on the iPhone–even Steve Jobs has says he thinks so, although Apple apparently doesn’t have any interest in building such an application itself, and new restrictions in the iOS developer agreement prevent apps developed with the HyperCard-like RunRev from being distributed on the App Store.

(More and more, I think that the surface similarities between Android and iOS are less interesting than the fundamental differences in emphasis and philosophy–and the more different the two OSes get, the more interesting they’ll be.)

I still have a cranky-old-man rant about PCs getting boring when they stopped coming with BASIC and normal people therefore stopped learning how to write their own software. I can’t wait to get my hands on App Inventor–and to see whether it’s capable of creating programs which anyone other than their inventors will want to use…

 
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3 Comments For This Post

  1. juandesant Says:

    I thought this was HyperCard-like… on the Android device! This is more like Lego Mindstorms, but what it is true is that due to the certification process this is off-limits for the iPhone.

    In any case, the Xcode 4 is reported to sport integrated UI definition with drag an drop connections. This Hello Purr could be very easily done, and for free… but not published to your own device unless you get a 99$ developer certificate.

  2. @CSPrestonInc Says:

    Sure you could build your own app, but I suppose you could go online and learn to do maintenance on your own car. Do you have the time to go through this list and weigh strengths and weaknesses? Automated tools tend to create "less than ideal" Mobile Apps and you quickly run into limitations. I strongly advise finding a reputable app developer. I'd be happy to introduce you to such an individual or agency.

    Brett – http://www.customsoftwarebypreston.com

  3. android 18 Says:

    Hi superb blog! Does running a blog such as this require a massive amount work?
    I’ve very little knowledge of programming but I was hoping to start my own blog in the near future.
    Anyway, should you have any recommendations or techniques for new blog
    owners please share. I understand this is off topic however I simply needed to
    ask. Many thanks!

7 Trackbacks For This Post

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