Google has revealed App Inventor for Android which aims to allow anyone to create applications for Android smartphones.
The research arm of the Internet giant, Google Labs, has spent the last year working on the system which it says "makes it easy for anyone—programmers and non-programmers, professionals and students—to create mobile applications for Android-powered devices."
The system allows the user to construct applications out of building blocks rather than the more usual programming languages. The provided building blocks can perform many different tasks such as storing information, repeating actions or "programming-like stuff" as Google calls it, all the way to blocks that talk to services such as Twitter.
App Inventor is now in an open beta which requires filling in an application form to join from the Google Labs App Inventor web site. Google acknowledges that the work is based upon similar efforts to bring non-programming language tools to fruition such as MIT's Open Blocks and Scratch. Prior to the beta Google has been trialling App Inventor with educational institutions in the US.
The official Google Blog quotes David Wolber, professor of computer science at the University of San Francisco and part of the initial pilot program, who said “students traditionally intimidated by technology are motivated and excited to program with App Inventor.”
Google also said that another student, afflicted by dyslexia, was inspired by App Inventor to take more computer science classes. Google also provided a YouTube video which shows App Inventor in action.