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12 July 2010, 12:44

Google App Inventor: Making Android applications from building blocks

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App Inventor Logo Following a one year test phase, Google has announced that its App Inventor development environment, intended principally for introductory computer education in schools and colleges, is open for beta testing. The software consists of a local component written in Java and a remote Google service which takes care of project management. It runs under Windows, OS X and Linux and requires Java 6. Users must have a valid Google account in order to use App Inventor for Android. Interested users can request access to the beta by completing an online form using their Google account credentials.

Zoom Using App Inventor, users can create applications by simply dragging and dropping various blocks.
App Inventor is aimed at enabling non-programmers to create Android applications. The user combines pre-formed blocks of code from Google in a local editor using a graphical drag & drop user interface. The blocks encapsulate various standard Android functions, such as sending a text, and program structures including loops and if clauses. The second component of the IDE is the browser-based designer, which is used to create the application's interface. There is no emulator as of yet, so users will need an Android phone connected to their computers via USB to test their apps.

According to the terms of use, App Inventor users agree to provide Google with a free license to any applications created using the tool. This allows the company to modify the program where necessary in order to provide the App Inventor service. Google also reserves the right to exclude or remove applications from the service and to block users from accessing the service at any time. It's not yet clear whether it's possible to extract code from an App Inventor application for editing using the SDK. There is also no clear information on whether apps created using App Inventor can be sold in the Android Store.

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