This summer Google launched a set of tools called Google App Inventor aimed at making it easy for anyone to develop Android apps without learning to code using programming languages. Basically App Inventor uses drag-and-drop tools to let you create apps that send text messages, track your location via GPS, link to Twitter, or work with photos stored on your device.
At launch, App Inventor was available as a private beta, and you had to request an invite and sit on your hands for a while before Google granted you access to the service. Today Google is opening App Inventor to the public, which means the tools are available for anyone to use. All you need is a free Google account.
The main App Inventor interface is basically a web app. You can open it up by navigating to appinventor.googlelabs.com in your web browser.But in order to use the “Blocks Editor” function, which is pretty much key to developing apps, you need to download and run a Java applet on your computer.
While App Inventor definitely makes it possible to write apps without learning how to write in C+ or Java, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily easy to use. I spent a few hours toying with App Inventor when it came out this summer before deciding to set it aside for later. Five months later I still haven’t gotten around to firing it up again, because I just don’t have the kind of free time it would take to get up to speed with App Inventor to create anything useful. If you want an app that lets you call a phone number by tapping a picture of my cat though, I’m your man.