Google unveils tool for developing Android apps

A new tool unveiled by Google on Monday allows users to create their own applications for Android smartphones quickly, easily, and without any computer programming experience.

The free program, dubbed App Inventor, allows users to create mobile applications from their smartphones by using a visual interface. Google hopes the simpler approach will encourage less technically-savvy users to try their hand at creating applications that make use of the phone’s many features, including GPS technology. Google announced the project in a blog post Monday.

“The goal is to enable people to become creators, not just consumers, in this mobile world,” project leader Harold Abelson, a computer scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the New York Times.

Google has been testing App Inventor in classrooms for the past year and claims it “opens up the world of computer programming to students in new and powerful ways.” The program allows users to select visual buttons representing the various functions the phone is capable of. There are buttons to interact with websites like Twitter and Facebook or to send automated text messages at scheduled intervals.

University of San Francisco computer science professor David Wolber, who took part in the pilot project, said “students traditionally intimidated by technology are motivated and excited to program with App Inventor.”