At the end of 2010, Google Introduced App Inventor, a web based tool allowing non-programmers to easily design Android applications, before phasing it out at the end of 2011.
Google eventually made App Inventor open source and it is now handled by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) which planned to make a beta version of App Inventor available to the general public in Q1 2012.
This happened yesterday, as the MIT App Inventor service is now open to everyone and all you will need is a Google ID for log-in such as a gmail account. There is no need to install any software as was the case with the original version of App Inventor and everything is handled in the web browser.
Since this is the first release, MIT explains that there may be issues due to the load from a large number of users and there may be bumps and adjustments as the load increases. For this reason, they suggest that you maintain backup copies of important apps.
The way to build an Android App is rather straightforward:
- Login to http://beta.appinventor.mit.edu
- Design the UI in App Inventor Designer by selecting component (image, label, checkbox, etc..)
- Design your program flow with the App Inventor Blocks Editor. In this part, you indicate the actions of the mouse click / finger touch.
- Test your application in the Android Emulator within the browser.
- Package your application to download it to your phone and use it on your phone.
If you are interested in the underlying software, you can retrieve App Inventor source code on Google Code site. Pre-build versions for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux are also available so that you can install App Inventor on your own server. Apparently the server part only works on MacOS and Linux.
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.