Brief update

I’ve been busy with other projects, traveling for work, and other tasks, that have cut into my App Inventor posts. Sorry about that!

One task I have been busy with is a project from AV8 Designer LLC to create an aircraft wing tip protection system. The system places proximity sensors on the tips of aircraft wings to detect – and help prevent – collisions with obstacles during aircraft ground movement operations. Aircraft are pushed and pulled around on the ground during all times of the day and night, and during all types of weather. They are frequently squeezed into aircraft hangers and parked extremely close to other aircraft. Unfortunately, this leads to occasional wing tip collisions that are expensive to repair.

The wing tip sensors provide audio and visual alerts of potential collisions and status (with audio and visual display) on Android tablets or smart phones carried by ground crew. The Android app is simple to use but incorporates complex programming to wirelessly communicate with all wing tip sensors. The app and the wireless communication links were implemented using App Inventor, rather than the Android Java SDK.

We took a risk in choosing to use App Inventor. While preliminary experiments were done to verify the concept, we did not know if we could develop the full application in App Inventor. Well, we took the risk and everything worked out great. Using App Inventor we were able to quickly develop – and demonstrate – the user interface and functionality. In doing this project, we proved App Inventor is capable of creating powerful and complex industrial applications. App Inventor can do much more than only educational and gaming applications!

How to Place Your App Inventor Apps in the Google Play Store

An all new tutorial on this subject is available here as of May 2016! There is still some great information below – read both!

Apps you create in App Inventor may be added to the Google Play Store.

The process is not difficult but there are many steps to the process and you will need to create some graphic images to illustrate and promote your app in the store.

Summary of the Steps

  • Set your app’s VersionCode and VersionName.
  • Apply for a Google Developer account (one time fee of US $25 after which you can upload an unlimited number of apps, forever).
  • Create at least two and up to 8 screenshots of your app for display in the store’s app listing.
  • Create a “feature graphic” and a high resolution icon for use in the store listing.
  • Use the App Inventor provided keystore file, or use a keystore file you have created elsewhere or previously.
  • Build and export your app as a .apk file to your computer.
  • Create a title for your app in the store
  • Write a description for your app to appear in the store
  • Decide on free versus paid (paid requires a “merchant account” to be set up).
  • Upload your apk file, keystore file, image files and title and description, and provide some additional information (such as product category, pricing, and target audience).

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Poll: Do you prefer printed books (cost more) or ebooks (cost less)?

Some of my readers have asked about printed copies of my App Inventor e-books.

There are services available that can print high quality, full color (with more detailed images) “on demand” which means a copy of the book is printed and manufactured at the time of purchase.

Printing adds cost. Depending on the size (height and width) and length of the printed book, prices might fall in the range of US$10 to $20.

Are you interested in printed books or are e-books okay with you? Here’s a quick poll on the subject – this poll also appears in the lower right side bar of this web page.

Thank you for your help!

[poll id=”3″]

New Linux OS version designed for Android & App Inventor app development

The Appril release of Quirky Linux includes the Android SDK (Software Development Kit), Android Studio, App Inventor, Oracle JDK (Java Development Kit), and LiveCode tools, as well as all of their dependencies, together with the JWM (Joe’s Window Manager) and ROX, providing one of the lightest environments for Android app developers.

“The intention is to have out-of-the-box, just-click-and-get-going Android app development, catering for total non-programmers with App Inventor, through intermediate with LiveCode, to hard-core coders with Android Studio,” says Barry Kauler, Puppy Linux creator.

Source: Puppy Linux’s Sister Quirky 7.1 Distro Arrives with Tools for Android App Developers

It actually runs the App Inventor system on the computer – does not require access to appinventor.mit.edu.

Download here (its free, of course). I have not tried this yet but would be interested to hear reports from users!

 

Pre-Announcing: App Inventor 2: Databases and Files-new e-book

Available now: App Inventor 2: Databases and Files

I have finished writing App Inventor 2: Databases and Files, a new e-book providing step-by-step guides to using TinyDB, TinyWebDB, Fusion Tables and Data Files in Android App Inventor programs, including sharing data with spreadsheets.

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Off topic: My Photo Guide 2.0 app for Android is available – for free

Version 2.0 of my Photo Guide app for Android is now available – it is free, no ads either.  No special permissions are required to install. Only works on Android 5 or newer.

Works on Android 4.4 and newer.

(Update: An updated version for 4.4 will be available in the store in about 1-2 days – its been uploaded and is awaiting Google processing. In the mean time, the version in the store works on Android 5.x).

 Screen shot:xEJ7UDMI_W9zcV7U_3cY-NK-CrMkJj-E7NgL7cjFfmjp_3AArfP1Ekt6kv6kyDjsNGo=h900 Click on the icon to go direct to the Google Play store and request a download:

wj_p3SzzexZS2tvqhESceRXSrLUAkZwXOV_YC8_QbyJY4l3VPv53ier4fhWSCs3GOK4=w300Alternate link if a browser blocker interferes with that:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.pevest.photoguide

This app was originally written using the Eclipse software development system, and the PhoneGap and JQuery Mobile libraries. The new version was converted to use Cordova (similar to PhoneGap) and the project was transferred to the new Android Studio for compilation and testing. This app was NOT written using MIT App Inventor.

App Inventor 2 Tutorial Volume 2 is now available at Amazon

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Volume 2 of the App Inventor 2 Tutorial is now available at Amazon as an e-book via this link: App Inventor 2 Tutorial Volume 2: Step-by-step: Advanced features including TinyDB.  The e-book will also be available from Google Play shortly.

Description

MIT App Inventor 2 is a fast and simple way to create custom Android apps for smart phones or tablets. Volume 2 in the series introduces debugging methods, explains additional controls not covered in Volume 1, introduces “agile” methods for developing a real world app, and provides sample code for using the TinyDB database.

The App Inventor 2 Tutorial series is targeted at adult learners (high school and up). App Inventor 2 provides a simplified “drag and drop” interface to layout your app’s screen design. Then implement the app’s behavior with “drag and drop” programming blocks to quickly assemble a program in a graphical interface.

Volume 1 of this series covered the basics of the App Inventor user interface Designer and the Blocks programming editor, plus basic “blocks” programming concepts and tools for arithmetic, text processing, event handling, lists and other features. Volume 2 builds upon Volume 1 to provide tips on debugging programs when the apps work incorrectly, how to use hidden editing features, and how to install your own apps on to your phone or tablet for general use. Code samples are provided for using the Notifier component for general use or for debugging, for user interface control tricks such as buttons that change color continuously or implementing the missing “radio buttons” component, using ListPicker and Spinner for list selections, and using the WebViewer to display web pages in your app. The book includes a large section on designing and building a sample real world application and finishes with a chapter on using the TinyDB database.

For readers of the blog, Chapters 4–8 are based on the tutorial already presented here. Chapter 2 and Chapter 9 on TinyDB are all new material.

Chapters

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 – App Inventor Tips
  • Chapter 2 – Debugging App Inventor Programs
  • Chapter 3 – User Interface Control Tricks
  • Chapter 4 – Designing and Building a Real World Application
  • Chapter 5 – Tip Calculator Version 2
  • Chapter 6 – Tip Calculator Version 3
  • Chapter 7 – Tip Calculator Version 4
  • Chapter 8 – Tip Calculator Version 5
  • Chapter 9 – Using the TinyDB database

(Volume 3 is now available – App Inventor 2 Databases and Files adds substantially more information on TinyDB, plus TinyWebDB and Fusion Tables and includes the full introduction to TinyDB).

AppInventor_Volume2Cover

App Inventor 2 Tutorial volume 2 will be available in a few days

Volume 2 of the App Inventor 2 Tutorial will be available at Amazon and Google Play/Google books within a few days. Just waiting for the new title to clear through their review process.

AppInventor_Volume2Cover

“Visual Development” system for Arduino

As you know, MIT App Inventor is a graphical-based programming system, or a “visual development” system where programs are constructed by dragging and dropping “blocks” onto a Blocks editor.

Arduino, which we mentioned in conjunction with our Bluetooth interface code, is a microcontroller system that is normally programmed in a language similar to the C++ programming language – which is text-based.

Mitov Softwware has introduced a new visual programming system for Arduino. I have not yet had a chance to try this out – the software is in “Beta” test phase and is not yet generally available.

The simplicity of an App Inventor type programming environment might then be available for Arduino applications. This is very exciting. It may be helpful for enabling more kinds of people, with different types of backgrounds than software developers(!) to write code for Arduino boards.

Program Arduino boards visually, fast and easy with Visuino #Visuino #Arduino

Source: Visuino – Visual Development for Arduino by Mitov Software

I have used this screen shot from their web site to illustrate the general idea – really looking forward to trying this out!

screenshot-03

Inexpensive Android tablet and smart phone available

Chances are, if you are writing App Inventor apps for Android, you already have an Android smart phone or tablet. If not, Amazon has slashed prices on their Amazon Fire Phone, 32GB (Unlocked GSM) and their Amazon Fire HD 7 tablet (but do see NOTE below!):

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NOTE – the Fire HD runs Android but its not a fully open Android tablet. However, there are some work aroundsmore info on that here. Here is a CNet web page that shows specifically how to load other apps – there are some limitations so read the whole link. I do not own this tablet and have not tested it with App Inventor. Appears to be the same issue with the Fire Phone – Amazon restricts it but its just a matter of setting some options in Settings to open it up. Would be interesting to hear from others if they have App Inventor apps running on this tablet or phone. Seems like they should work!

Another excellent tablet option is the ASUS Google Nexus 7 Android Tablet (16gb) which is also available in 32 GB:  Nexus 7 from Google (7-Inch, 32 GB, Black) by ASUS (2013) Tablet. I have the ASUS Nexus 7 and really like it a lot.

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