Have you ever wanted to make your own app for a tablet but you don’t have a clue how they work? The concept of coding or programming is Greek to you. You might not have even known that building an app is called coding. Might seem impossible to build an app with extensive college studies, but that isn’t true at all.
Thanks to MIT, even the most basic beginner can learn to code and build apps using the App Inventor for Android and iPhone.
What is the App Inventor?
Google and MIT created an online program that teaches users to make app programs. It opens in your web browser for easy access. The program is open source, which means that you can use it completely free of charge. Anything you make with the program is also yours to keep and use as you please.
Reasons to Make Your Own App
There are many reason to make your own app. You might have an idea in mind already, but here are a bunch more that will make you even more excited to get coding:
- Create a game to play with friends
- Create an app to sell to make money
- Create an app for your business to entice customers
- Create a loyalty app for your business instead of loyalty cards that get lost
- Build an app children’s book with interactive features
- Create an app for a school project instead of boring slideshows
- Create an app that makes a task easier and share it with the world
- Design something silly to make others laugh
- Teach your students to code so they learn more about computers
- Make something new just because you want to learn
How Does the App Inventor Work?
The process is simple but creates complicated results. All you have to do is drag and drop boxes.
Really. That’s it. You drag and drop.
Each box places a certain element into your app program. By connecting the boxes, you can add more to the element and change parts of the element. Think of it like a puzzle with a picture of a house. Each piece by itself represents a part of the final image. A bunch of pieces together will create the house while others create the background. When all the pieces are placed together, you see the complete picture. If a piece is out of the place than the final picture looks distorted.
That is just like using the drag and drop method of coding that you will do with the App Inventor.
App Inventor Requirements
There are a few technical requirements to use the MIT App Inventor, but it shouldn’t be anything you don’t already have on your computer. Requirements include:
- An Internet connection. The program runs in your browser so you have to be online to use it. The connection doesn’t have to be high speed Internet, but it should be steady so your progress saves without issue.
- App Inventor works best with the latest versions of Chrome or Firefox for windows. It does not support Internet Explorer so don’t try it. For Mac, use the latest version of Safari.
- Make sure your computer has the latest Java update.
- Android phone or tablet (optional). You can test your new app directly on your phone or tablet that runs Android. If you don’t want to set up your device with the program, you can use the included Android emulator right on the website.
- A Google account. The App Inventor signs you in to Google before you start coding. Your account is used to save your progress on the Google cloud as you work. Google accounts are free and the App Inventor program will guide you through the steps to create an account and then bring you right back to the website to begin coding.
Before You Begin Coding
Before you get into the coding process, ready your computer to get started to make things easier later:
- Create a Google account if you haven’t already. You can have your browser remember the password so you don’t have to.
- Update all required programs.
- Connect and test your tablet or phone with the program following these steps: Connect Your Phone or Tablet Over Wifi
- Install, run, and test the tablet emulator if you want to use that instead of your own tablet. Follow these steps to do so: Installing and Running the Emulator
Need Help Understanding the App Inventor?
The program takes you directly to the drag and drop interface. There isn’t a tutorial to get your started. You can go ahead and play with the service and learn things for yourself or you can take advantage of these helpful tools:
- App Inventor Course in a Box: These courses provide step by step guides on building all sorts of apps. The first course teaches you how to create the “I Have a Dream” speech into an app. After that, move up to courses that teach animation, quizzes, and even how to build custom blocks.
- Free Tutorials: These tutorials teach you step-by-step how to make simple apps including texting apps, games, GPS, LEGO apps, and more. Once you learn to make these apps you can take what you learned to build your own unique version.
- Free Books and Papers: Do you work better reading a textbook or paper that teaches you through reading instead of step-by-step online lessons? If so, you can download free books and papers written for teachers and teach yourself how to code. Be your own teacher.
- Visit the Forum: Online forums are great because you can talk to others newbies like you and seasoned professionals to help guide you through the coding process. If you have a question or don’t know how to do something, someone in the forum is bound to have the answer you need
The MIT App Inventor for Android and iPhone will teach you how to code easily. Within hours, you will build your first app. It might seems simple at first, but with practice you will be able to create apps just like the pros.