Help MIT Study and Extend App Inventor

Hi folks. If you are an app inventor user, please fill out the survey on it here: survey
This will help the MIT team move forward in improving app inventor. Here’s the announcement:
In order to ensure the future success of App Inventor and explore innovative uses of mobile technology in education, Google has funded the establishment of a Center for Mobile Learning at the MIT Media Lab.  The new center will be actively engaged in studying and extending App Inventor for Android.

In an effort to assist MIT in their effort to study and extend App Inventor, we invite you to complete this brief survey on your use of App Inventor.  All data collected in this survey will be shared with the MIT Center for Mobile Learning.

Please visit for updates on what is being done with App Inventor at MIT.

The App Inventor Team

P.S. This survey is being distributed through multiple means. Please be sure to only fill it out once.

App Inventor en Espanol

Anaya Multimedia has created a Spanish translation of our App Inventor book. Here’s the Amazon link:

I also found this Spanish App Inventor resource site: Check it out!



Resnick and App Inventor: Community sharing will explode

Mitch Resnick will be teaming up with Hal Abelson and Erick Klopfer on the App Inventor project at the new MIT Center for Mobile Learning. This development is great for many reasons, one being that Mitch is an expert on building community and sharing within a development tool.

Mitch’s Scratch system is one of the greatest sharing sites– open source software sites– in the world. Community is built into the very core of the  system and sharing is the default behavior. The motto is Imagine. Program. Share. Building something from example is the norm.

Such a scheme is especially important for kids and the non-geeks who inhabit the App Inventor world– its much easier than starting with an empty canvas or an empty text editor. Hell, its really best the way for hard-core geek programmers to work as well.

The current version of App Inventor has no sharing facility: its really a wonder that App Inventor flourished without it. Resnick’s influence will ensure that the community sharing is integrated directly in the workflow.

What’s it all mean? Are kids the only ones who buy into this sharing stuff? Can Resnick get adults to play together as well? I believe the answer is yes. People– kids and adults–love their phones. The lucky ones with tablets are obsessed with those as well. Most have never imagined that they could actually program these devices. App Inventor makes that possible, but it needs a community to foster it. Resnick may be just the guy to turn these phone lovers into the world’s greatest app building collaboratory.

Best App Inventor News Ever: MIT Launches New Center for Mobile Learning!

MIT announced the launch of the new Center for Mobile Learning. The Center’s first activity will focus on App Inventor for Android! The center will be led by App Inventor mastermind Hal Abelson, Mitch Resnick of Lego Mindstorms and Scratch fame, and Eric Kopfler, the director of teacher education at MIT and an expert in games and simulation. Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:

Dr. Maggie Johnson, Google’s Director of Education and University Relations, sees the Media Lab initiative as the ideal next step for App Inventor. “Google incubated App Inventor to the point where it gained critical mass. MIT’s involvement will both amplify the impact of App Inventor and enrich the research around it,” said Johnson. “It is a perfect example of how industry and academia can work together effectively.”

This news boomerangs the negativity surrounding Google’s discontinuation announcement last week. To the many teachers whose curriculums have been energized by app inventor, and to the thousands of newly empowered app builders: Rejoice! The fun has just begun!

Update: Hal Abelson discusses the move at Google Blog. Google is helping fund the center.

App Inventor apps on the Android Market

I know people are putting their App Inventor apps on the Android Market, but I haven’t seen a list out there. In order to start one, I did some minimal research. I’ve listed three I found here. If you know of others, please comment and we’ll build up a list.

The 1 Touch “Love You” app has over 100,000 downloads and 2,000 ratings at an average of 4 stars. It lets you send “love you” like SMS messages with a single click. The TextbooksRUs app lets you scan texts to check their price. Big Daddy Slingo is an Android version of a popular game.

App Inventor Panel at O’Reilly OSCON conference

OSCON 2011II’ll be speaking in an OSCON session on App Inventor this Thursday at 4:10 pm in Portland 252. My co-speakers are Debby Wallach of the Google App Inventor team, and professors Eni Mustafaraj of Wellesley, and Ralph Morelli from Trinity.

OSCON is the O’Reilly Open Source Convention.

I’ll also be interviewed Thursday by O’Reilly at 11:15, location to be determined. You can check out the interview on O’Reilly’s stream at

I’ll be around from Wednesday afternoon through Friday morning and would love to meet App Inventor enthusiasts or give demos to those interested. Shoot me an email at wolber at usfca dot edu, or comment here?

The First App Inventor Book is Here!

The first App Inventor book is here! App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps is now available in paperback and electronic version at O’Reilly ( and in paperback form at Amazon

My co-authors are App Inventor creator Hal Abelson and Ellen Spertus and Liz Looney from the App Inventor team. The book has step-by-step tutorials of twelve apps and an “Inventor’s Manual” section that expands on the programming and computer science concepts in the tutorials.

We designed the book to serve as both a how-to guide for mobile app development and a textbook for beginning computer science courses at the university or K-12 level.

If you’ve never programmed but want to learn how to create a mobile app, App Inventor and this book is for you. I’ve been teaching App Inventor to humanities and business students for two years; the book targets a similar audience, explaining things in layperson terms for the absolute beginner.

If you are already a programmer, but want to learn App Inventor, the book provides a comprehensive overview of the language and the environment. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can create apps and the advanced chapters of the book introduce you to advanced topics like connecting apps to the web.

Publishing App Inventor in the Market

The cat is out of the bag. There’s  a primer out on how to publish an App Inventor app in the Android market, via It takes some work using the Java SDK and some command-line tools but it doesn’t look to awful.

The cat being out of the bag is big news and could help with the next step– one-click publishing directly from App Inventor.

Setting the Icon and Publishing an App

Peter Evers of Amsterdam and has a great post describing how to change the icon of your App Inventor app. He also provides info for publishing an app on GetJar, an alternative to the Android Market.

His app is an Android version of the on-line magazine “overdose”– you can install it at:

App Inventor at Community Colleges

I just finished teaching a 5-day App Inventor workshop at MPICT, a conference for computer science and IT community college teachers in the Northwest US. App Inventor was a hit– many of the instructors plan to incorporate App Inventor in their courses.

What I learned is our community colleges are in good hands: what a fantastic group of teachers! I learned a great deal about teaching in general and teaching beginning CS courses specifically.