In this blog post I will be discussing an alternate method to Android development known as AppInventor. It is a program released by Google to create applications for Android devices. This is a visual programming language, meaning you use layout design and puzzle piece style blocks to create programs. You do not need to know a programming language to create applications using AppInventor. It is free to download and use, and utilizes in-browser development using Java 6.
To get started with AppInventor, go to the AppInventor Help Page
for install instructions. Be sure to have your Cius set up as an ADB if you want to test your applications on it. The AppInventor website has excellent tutorials, so I would suggest doing a couple of those.
Despite its simple appearance, AppInventor puts some very robust tools at your disposal. You can access the device's accelerometer, compass, GPS, camera, and more. There are also some very impressive tools such as:
ActivityStarter - Send the activity's package and class name to be launched by your application
TinyDB - Store persistent data on the device
TinyWebDB - Store persistent data on a web database to be accessed from all devices
Web - Post, Get, and other web interactions (I used it to grab translation data from Google Translate)
TextToSpeech, SpeechRecognizer, Bluetooth, and even more components are available when developing with AppInventor.
Some tablets have difficulties working with AppInventor, but luckily the Cius works very well with it. There are various formatting issues with AppInventor at the moment, such as the inability to center items or create separate screens. However, there are simple workarounds for these problems. This is how to fix the centered item problem:
This gives a simple view of the Design Window, as well as how to center an item. Create two empty images with the item you want to center between them and place all of these into a Horizontal Arrangement. Place every item's width to Fill parent... and the item will be centered.
You may also edit an item's width and height using the Block Editor and your Screen's width and height. For example:
To create multiple screens you simply place all the items you want on one screen into a Vertical/Horizontal Arrangement and give it a name. Do the same thing for the next "screen". These screens can then jump back and forth by changing the Visibility component of the Arrangements using events such as button presses.
For more information on AppInventor on the Cius:AppInventor on the Cius
For a tutorial on building a mortgage calculator using AppInventor:AppInventor Mortgage Calculator