If you've ever had a great idea for an Android app but lack the technical skills to put it together, Google App Inventor is the software for you. Freshly launched by the search giant this morning, it's basically a drag-and-drop app creation tool, breaking Android's functionality - including GPS, phone and internet connectivity - down into easily shuffled blocks. According to the NYTimes, Google has been testing App Inventor out on sixth graders, high school kids and others without a background in app development, to make sure it's indecently simple to use.
Video demo after the cut
"The App Inventor team has created blocks for just about everything you can do with an Android phone, as well as blocks for doing "programming-like" stuff-- blocks to store information, blocks for repeating actions, and blocks to perform actions under certain conditions. There are even blocks to talk to services like Twitter." Google
Web-based, the App Inventor uses the Open Blocks Java library coupled up to the Kawa Language Framework and other components; to the end user, meanwhile, it's just a simple timeline of instructions. Sample apps the students created included a GPS-enabled program that automatically updated a list of contacts with a user's position every 15 minutes, and an app designed for the elderly which would recognize a fall using the accelerometer and automatically trigger an SMS or call to a contact.
Once you've created an app you can transfer it to an Android device via USB as a standard .apk file; we're guessing that means you should also be able to distribute it via the Android Market. It's all a bit more impressive than rival systems like Nokia's Ovi App Wizard, which basically takes an RSS feed and dresses it up as an easily distributable "app".
[via Android Community]