Print 9 comment(s) - last by spookynutz.. on Jul 12 at 5:55 PM

Software lets anyone develop their own Android app

Two of the most popular smartphone operating systems on the market are Google's Android OS and Apple's iOS. Many prefer Android to iOS because of the open nature of Android.

Apps written for Android are easier to get onto the Android Market than apps written for the iPhone – iOS apps also have to be approved by Apple meaning that a long development process could be for naught if Apple denies the app.

Google has announced a new software development program aimed at letting anyone develop an application for Android devices called the App Inventor for Android. The software is intended to allow the smartphone user to become a smartphone developer without having to know any programming languages.

The official Google Labs page for App Inventor states, "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 user of the software can drop in icons to create their apps with each of the icons representing a specific piece of code to do certain things with the Android device. App Inventor is GPS aware and can locate a user. The software can also send texts periodically or after specific actions. The software can also create apps that communicate with online services like Twitter.

The New York Times reports that the leader of the project at Google is Harold Abelson, a computer scientist from MIT on sabbatical at Google. Abelson said, "The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world." Abelson also stated, "We could only have done this because Android’s architecture is so open."

The App Inventor was tested with a myriad of students in all age groups, none of them computer science majors. Testing of the App Inventor software involved women, sixth grade students, nursing students and more. Apps developed by these groups included ones for alerting when a patient fell using the Android phone accelerometer and one that would respond to texts while driving with a message to not text the driver.

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Very smart
By ZachDontScare on 7/12/2010 3:09:25 PM , Rating: 5
This is a very smart move by Google. What mobile development really needs is its own 'Visual Basic' - a tool that removes a lot of the unnecessary complexity introduced by languages such as C++ and Java to make programming more approachable to novices and non-programming professionals (not to mention programming professionals who just want to bang out a quick app for something). If this app is truly as capable as they claim, this could be a huge factor in their competition for marketshare with Apple.

Palm Ares
By justjc on 7/12/2010 4:14:34 PM , Rating: 3
Is it just me or does this idea sound a bit like Ares from Palm?

Still it's not a bad idea, if you want everyone to make apps for your OS.

By Murloc on 7/12/2010 10:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
Apps developed by these groups included ones for alerting when a patient fell using the Android phone accelerometer

I bet that the phone falls on the floor more than the patient XD

and one that would respond to texts while driving with a message to not text the driver.

Start spamming him SMS' from abroad :P

Scratch programming language
By nafhan on 7/12/2010 12:45:45 PM , Rating: 2
Has anyone else here ever checked out the Scratch programming language? The screenshots make it look like Abelson may have based the UI off of Scratch. Also, this note from him on the Google research blog seems to suggest that as well:

Love the balance
By Tony Swash on 7/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Love the balance
By Klober on 7/12/2010 11:49:38 AM , Rating: 4
It can't just be me that finds this statement fitting:
the Apple store will almost certainly continue to be the most ulcerative space for developers

RE: Love the balance
By Zehar on 7/12/2010 3:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
Nope! I love the use of the term ulcerative as well!

RE: Love the balance
By ZachDontScare on 7/12/2010 3:12:18 PM , Rating: 1
How is it not balanced? It is easier to get into the Android market than the iPhone market. How much developers make on either is absolutely irrelevant to the ease of listing products.

RE: Love the balance
By spookynutz on 7/12/2010 5:55:31 PM , Rating: 3
Speaking as someone who has jumped ship to Android development, your point is pretty unfounded. The majority of veteran developers do not make any appreciable revenue from their iPhone applications, and the ship has long since sailed on novelty/launch software like the "Fart App".

A "budding" developer likely won't even recoup the cost of the iPhone SDK, let alone the Mac they'll need to make use of it (assuming they don't already own one).

Given that the Android SDK does not require a yearly subscription, it's compatible with all three major OS's, there's a higher per/sale revenue percentage, and an idiot-proof IDE on the way for simple projects, "budding" developers would probably be far better off cutting their teeth on Android. If the app is successful there, port to iPhone. At present, there's no logical reason to do it the other way around.

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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