The stream of products coming out of Google’s stable seems to be never-ending. Judging by the lineup of exciting new offerings they have in store for this year, it looks like a trend they intend to keep up. One of the most talked about application made by Google is their new codeless Android development tool, aimed primarily for the student community. It goes by the name “App Inventor”. The technology has been in development for a year, primarily with educational institutions, and may well be a godsend for the Android operating system as students are introduced to the platform in the classroom.
WHAT IS APP INVENTOR?
App Inventor is a browser based visual development tool that enables users to create applications compatible with the Android platform, without having to write any code. The working of the App Inventor is pretty simple, and it is this simplicity that is expected to lure students of all ages to this tool.
App inventor possesses a drag – and – drop layout system. The behavior of the user interface elements can be programmed through a visual development system that the user controls by categorizing blocks with specific programming characteristics into different structures. These blocks can be dragged around and snapped to other blocks to form relatively complex programs. This concept is based on a visual programming language developed at MIT, called Scratch.
The compiler that converts the blocks into Android bytecode is built over the GNU Kawa framework, which provides a Scheme based intermediate language. It’s worth noting that Kawa can also be used separately to build entire Android applications with Scheme.
INTENDED TARGET AUDIENCE
According to a press release issued by Google,“ to use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer. App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app’s behaviour.”
The tool is available for all to use, right from the elementary kids, to the nursing students. The reasoning is that if young people develop applications to fulfil their own needs and install them on their own phones, they will be more likely use the phones more often, or switch to the Android OS if they are not already using a phone that runs on the operating system. This development by Google is sure to ruffle the feathers of those at Apple, considering that Apple keeps a tight rein on application development.
App Inventor was first made available on July 12th, but is not freely offered to download for the general public. One intending to make use of the App Inventor must fill and submit a form on the official App Inventor website. Basic information is required to be presented and Google gives you permission to start building applications once they have received and processed your application form.
With this latest product, Google seems to be making its intention loud and clear – to be the market leader in every field possible in the digital arena. The way things are developing, it may not be long before we actually get to see that day.