What will you build with app inventor for Android?

By enabling anyone to make their own apps, Google bests the iPhone again while creating new opportunities for businesses.

After several months in private beta, Google's App Inventor for Android is now available for general use, so any business or individual can start using the technology to create Android apps of their own.

Previously open for testing only by invitation, the beta technology is now available through Google Labs to anyone with a Google account. The tool is designed to let anyone -- regardless of programming experience -- build their own, custom Android apps simply by dragging and dropping premade blocks of code.

Those interested in trying out the technology can begin at the App Inventor home page; a user forum is also available for discussion and advice.

Location-Aware Capabilities

To create apps with App Inventor for Android, users work in their computer's browser. Thanks to a live connection with the phone, however, their app appears there as well. A video on YouTube demonstrates the technology in action.

Apps created with App Inventor so far include vocabulary apps for children, SMS broadcasting apps for community events, apps that track a favorite public transportation route, and even a marriage proposal app, said Karen Parker, App Inventor program manager, on a Google blog Wednesday.

Other consumer-focused possibilities include using the phone's GPS-location sensor to build location-aware apps for such purposes as remembering where you parked your car, for example. Alternatively, an app could periodically text "missing you" to a user's loved ones, or integrate with the Web for mashup applications, as Google points out.

Scanning the Competition

While some have argued that App Inventor could overload the Android Market with junk applications, I believe the openness and user control it provides will be a key strength working in Android's favor -- particularly when contrasted with the iron-fisted restrictiveness Apple maintains over its own app selection.

Combined with Android's superior app security and other advantages, that openness and control will be key not just for individual users but perhaps even more so for businesses.

With App Inventor, your business could tap the technology's GPS-location sensor to create a custom tour app of your business or even your local supply chain, for example. For employees on the road, you could make one that responds to all incoming texts with a message that reads, "Sorry, I'm driving and will contact you later." With Android's text-to-speech capabilities, meanwhile, you can even have the phone read incoming texts aloud.

Apps could be created to manage employees' timesheets or expense reports, or to send custom reminders about meetings and deadlines. And how about business intelligence? An app could keep tabs on competitors' Web sites and alert you to key changes.

No 'Walled Garden' Here

The sky is the limit with functionality like this, in other words, and that's why it is so powerful and a compelling argument for Android: No more waiting for someone else to create the apps you and your business need.

Those who don't mind being told what to do and how to do it in Apple's "walled garden" are welcome to stay there. For the rest of us -- and especially businesses -- the wide-open world of Android is looking better and better.

Follow Katherine Noyes on Twitter: @Noyesk.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags open sourceinternetGooglesoftwareInternet-based applications and servicesWeb-based Applications

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Katherine Noyes

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?