The Android Market may be thousands strong, but if you've ever found yourself with the perfect idea for an app that doesn't yet exist, you'll love App Inventor for Android, a Google Labs tool that helps you build your own Android app. App Inventor was created to help people who aren't necessarily web developers; the software has been in development for over a year and was tested everywhere from sixth-grade classrooms to college campuses. According to the project's leader, "The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world," a strategy that is almost completely opposite of Apple's notoriously difficult and closed iPhone App process.
To find out more about how App Inventor works, keep reading.
Users create apps by dragging and dropping pieces of code; there's an instructional video on the site that shows just how simple it is to use. The code is represented visually with icons and explanatory text, and users simply fit the pieces together. According to a New York Times article, one San Francisco college student used App Inventor to create an app that responds to texts he receives while driving. A nursing student created an app to send an emergency message if a person falls. Basic apps can be created "in a matter of minutes."
App Inventor is still in invite-only beta and requires a Gmail account and Android phone to use. To sign up, visit appinventor.googlelabs.com. The program is web-based, and your Android phone must be connected to your computer while creating your app.