Google has launched App Inventor for Android today, allowing anyone to create an application for its mobile operating system in a matter of minutes with a simple drag and drop interface.
This interesting new application development program works like a basic website editor, allowing users to drag blocks which contains images, text, sounds, timers, animations, and so forth, and allows full use of the features of Android phones, such as the accelerometer for tilting games and GPS tracking for location-based apps.
App Inventor is technically in beta, much like many of Google's other experimental efforts, but it will be fully operational. It requires a Gmail account to log into and should be available to users across the globe within the coming weeks.
Really basic applications can be created, as well as something a little more advanced, catering to the individual needs and desires of Android users. A number of tutorials are also presented, including how to make a quiz app or an example game called WhacAMole.
Other examples were also cited, such as an app that could automatically respond to texts while driving to inform friends that you cannot respond, a virtual tour of your school or workplace, or an app that links up to websites like Amazon and Twitter.
App Inventor uses the Open Blocks Java library, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This was used for the MIT programming language called Scratch, which allows children to create programs using a similar drag and drop interface.
The number of apps on Android has been growing quickly over the past year, with some suggesting that there will be 100,000 apps by the end of July this year, compared to only around 10,000 the same time last year. Apple's App Store, on the other hand, is in the lead with over 225,000 apps.
This has been a cause of criticism for the Android platform, as users want a wide range of apps to choose from. This latest project from Google could see the app numbers skyrocket, as it opens the doors to non-developers who fancy creating an app of their own.
Then again, it could lead to the Android Market being full of rubbish apps made by curious TechEye staffers. But it may also help uncover some hidden gems from people who lacked the programming knowledge to put their ideas into action.