Google Introduces Do-it-yourself Android App Tool

Google will launch App Inventor for Android, a free software tool enabling users to create their own Android smartphone applications regardless of previous programming experience.

Under development for a year and tested in environments including grade schools, high schools and nursing schools, App Inventor for Android does not rely on conventional coding language–instead, consumers visually design the application’s appearance, using blocks to specify its behavior. “The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” said App Inventor project leader Harold Abelson, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer scientist on sabbatical at Google, in an interview with The New York Times, Fierce says.

According to App Inventor’s Google Labs homepage, the tool includes “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.” App Inventor’s blocks editor relies on the Open Blocks Java library to create visual programming languages–the compiler that translates the blocks language for Android implementation hinges on the Kawa Language Framework.

App Inventor for Android follows in the tradition of simplified desktop programming tools like Basic, Logo and Scratch, said Abelson, a founding director of the Free Software Foundation, Public Knowledge and the Creative Commons. He said the project also reaffirms Google’s commitment to open-source mobile software principles, explaining “We could only have done this because Android’s architecture is so open.”

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