Google Aims to Help Anyone Become an Android App Developer

Android handsets
Android handsets

Google (GOOG) unveiled a new tool for creating applications for Android smartphones Monday, seeking to make the process as easy as putting together a meal from a selection of frozen foods.

Google's App Inventor for Android offers blocks of software that perform different functions and allows folks to drag and drop the pieces together onto a viewer area, as seen in Google's video.

Examples of some applications that can be easily assembled include a GPS-locator app that's designed to remember where you parked your car or an app that automatically replies to text messages when you're driving with a message along the lines of "sorry, I'm driving and will contact you later."

No Programming Required

In an effort to take the edge off venturing off into the land of software developers, aka code crunchers, Google states on its App Inventor for Android site:

To use App Inventor, you do not need to be a developer. App Inventor requires NO programming knowledge. This is because instead of writing code, you visually design the way the app looks and use blocks to specify the app's behavior.

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.

In developing its App Inventor for Android, Google is taking aim at the popularity and traction Apple's (AAPL) iPhone has amassed with outside developers. Google is not only looking to attract more outside developers to create the latest must-have applications for its Android-based phones but it's digging down to the next layer by seeking to attract everyday users and turning them into Android developers.

Google's Android operating system for mobile phones is powering a growing number of handsets made by such folks as Motorola (MOT), HTC and Samsung. Both Google and Apple are banking on the notion that the more useful a phone is, the better it is for their bottom line. And, as Apple has found, applications have been the force behind the success of its iPhone.