Hoping to broaden the reach and appeal of software and game development beyond experienced programmers, Google has begun offering access to App Inventor
, a web-based visual development environment for creating Android phone platform applications.
Use of the App Inventor requires a PC, Mac, or Linux system and an Android-based phone, as well as a recent-version web browser. Google is freely providing the installation software
necessary to use the software, but for the time being the company is only providing access to the Inventor itself by request
The Inventor makes use of a visual development system that doesn't require any programming, instead allowing users to assemble "blocks" corresponding to a variety of behaviors. Examples include a quiz game
built using its basic features.
"For the past year, we’ve been testing App Inventor in classrooms around the United States, and we’ve found that it opens up the world of computer programming to students in new and powerful ways," Google said in a statement this week.
In addition to basic tasks, the App Inventor also allows access to hardware services like GPS, accelerometer, and orientation data, phone calls, texting, speech-to-text, contacts, and storage, as well as APIs for web-based services like Amazon and Twitter.