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App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps [Paperback]

David Wolber , Hal Abelson , Ellen Spertus , Liz Looney
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 13, 2011 1449397484 978-1449397487 1

Yes, you can create your own apps for Android phones—and it's easy to do. This extraordinary book introduces App Inventor for Android, a powerful visual tool that lets anyone build apps for Android-based devices. Learn the basics of App Inventor with step-by-step instructions for more than a dozen fun projects, such as creating location-aware apps, data storage, and apps that include decision-making logic.

The second half of the book features an Inventor's manual to help you understand the fundamentals of app building and computer science. App Inventor makes an excellent textbook for beginners and experienced developers alike.

  • Design games and other apps with 2D graphics and animation
  • Create custom multi-media quizzes and study guides
  • Create a custom tour of your city, school, or workplace
  • Use an Android phone to control a LEGO® MINDSTORMS® NXT robot
  • Build location-aware apps by working with your phone’s sensors
  • Explore apps that incorporate information from the Web
  • Learn computer science as you build your apps

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

David Wolber is the Chair of Computer Science at the University of San Francisco, and teaches App Inventor in a course at USF. He worked with the App Inventor team, and authored the advanced tutorials found on the App Inventor site. The apps created by his students– mostly humanities and business majors with no prior programming experience–have been chronicled in articles of The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Tech Crunch,, and Yahoo News.

Harold (Hal) Abelson, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT, has a longstanding interest in using computation as a conceptual framework in teaching. He has played a key role in fostering MIT institutional educational technology initiativeI, and is a founding director of Creative Commons and Public Knowledge. Hal’s book, Turtle Geometry, written with Andrea diSessa in 1981, presented a computational approach to geometry that has been cited as "the first step in a revolutionary change in the entire teaching/learning process."

Ellen Spertus is an Associate Professor of Computer Science at Mills College, where she has taught with App Inventor, and a Senior Research Scientist at Google, where she was one of the App Inventor developers. She and her work have been written about in Wired, USA Today (which described her as "a geek with principles"), and in The New York Times (as one of three "women who might change the face of the computer industry"). In addition to her many technical publications, her writings have appeared in the book She's Such a Geek: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff and in the magazines Technology Review, Chronicle of Higher Education, Odyssey: Adventures in Science, and Glamour.

Liz Looney is a senior software engineer at Google, where she helped develop App Inventor and is a member of the Robotics Task Force. She has over 20 years of experience in creating programming tools and holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from The University of New Hampshire.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 386 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (May 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1449397484
  • ISBN-13: 978-1449397487
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,469 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Wolber is a professor at the University of San Francisco. He teaches App Inventor in his "Computing, Robots, and the Web" course at USF. The apps created by his students- mostly humanities and business majors with no prior programming experience-have been chronicled in articles of the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Tech Crunch and Wired Magazine

David began teaching App Inventor as part of Google's 2009 pilot program involving ten universities. In 2010, he received a grant from Google to work with the App Inventor team and authored the advanced tutorials that appear on the App Inventor site. His video series on App Inventor is available at

Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book! May 24, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been learning to use App Inventor since I first got a smart phone about six months ago. This book is a much needed learning text for App Inventor. It teaches by having you build examples apps with each one getting a little harder and introducing new concepts.
It starts with Hello Purr, a variation of Hello World. The book makes even this well-known app fun because of a couple of variations it throws in.
In the meantime it explains everything step by step and teaches useful programming practices like testing often, in fact each time you add something new to your program.
The chapters are all well illustrated including a few fun photographs of real people illustrating something about the app.
The book is divided into two main sections. The first section, thankfully, is all the fun apps which you build and learn by doing.
The second section, called Inventor's Manual, is also very interesting when you are ready for it. It discusses issues from a programmers point of view with suggestions on incremental development and similar helpful programming design tips.
It also includes an in depth discussion of all the features, components, and blocks in App Inventor.
The two sections of the book, the tutorials and the Inventor's Manual together provide far more coherent and approachable documentation for App Inventor than Google's on-line documentation.
For anyone who craves a little structure in their learning, I highly recommend this book.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Describes a bold new programming paradigm May 25, 2011
App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps describes and shows people how to use a new web application platform which has the goal of allowing non-programmers to be able to make Android apps. This book is for people who have never programmed before who wish to develop Android apps. "App Inventor" should not be confused with the Android SDK, which is geared towards professional programmers who already know Java, nor with the Android NDK that uses C++.

Computers have made a lot of progress in the last three decades. We have moved from machines that can only work with 80 column text using a fixed-width font to machines with sophisticated graphical user interfaces. This transition has been done piecemeal, starting with the transition from the Apple II to the Macintosh, followed by the transition from DOS to Windows for business computers, which was then followed by the transition of the Internet from Usenet and other text-only applications to graphical web browsers.

The only technology that hasn't made this transition is the interface used by programmers. Programs are still made using the paradigm of an 80-column terminal with a fixed-width font.

App Inventor breaks this programming model. Programs are developed with a mouse; the program structure is described using graphical components resembling pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The App Inventor book walks you through the process of using this platform, starting with a simple "Hello, world" application and finishing with advanced topics such as using Android's web API.

One issue I had with the system is that App Inventor needs a fast computer with a large screen to function well.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great resource for multiple age levels July 16, 2011
By wookie
We used this book to teach a week-long summer camp to high school students and found it to be a very helpful resource. Soon, we will also use it to help 20 high school teachers understand how to develop apps for their science/math courses. In the Fall, we are planning to use this for our new CS Principles course at my university.

This book was selected because of the combination of very cool examples, and a writing style that is very engaging and informative. The book has sections with many examples, as well as chapters that address specific topics within the App Inventor.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Wait to buy until the program is upgraded online. July 8, 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To use the book, you need to go to the website and download the free program. Had a problem with the program not working on my Windows 8 computer. The school will be using Windows 7 next year and I doubt the current version of the program will work on Windows 7. Maybe XP. Had planned to use it with students, but couldn't test it for ease of use.

The book is fairly easy to read and looks like it would do great either with kids or to learn so it could be adapted for kids use. It looks to me like we will know better if the company upgrades the program.
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3.0 out of 5 stars This is an OLD edition May 6, 2014
By DrBee
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is for App Inventor Classic --- not the new and vastly improved AI2. It is also available on the App Inventor website -- for FREE. However -- if you were using App Inventor Classic (which many people still do) it is well written.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Obsolete March 8, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the book for teaching the old version of App Inventor. The application has been completely updated, and you'll spend more time trying to figure out how to adapt what's in this book to AI2 than you will doing the tutorials or building apps. Both this version and the updated version are available for free on MIT's App Inventor site at [...].
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3.0 out of 5 stars Got it for a class May 9, 2013
By DeeCee
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book was a required text for one of my classes. I felt that for someone as myself, new to this technological world, this book was a bit too "advanced". Perhaps, again because 'Im a slow learner, it may work for someone who is familiar with the basics.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This is available free online on MIT site...wastage of my money
This book is great for School children or High school goer. Also a great tool for someone trying to learn the Mobile Apps. Read more
Published 8 months ago by AnandS
5.0 out of 5 stars Easy to follow
This book made it easy for an IT-phobic person to create my own apps. I highly recommend it and am glad I bought it.
Published 15 months ago by blkoyle
5.0 out of 5 stars App Inventor Exceeds Expectations
I highly recommend this book if you are a non programmer. You will not be disappointed. It is a great book.
Published 15 months ago by COP287
5.0 out of 5 stars Good lord, it's Abelson!
Both easy to understand and yet delivers some computational concepts. I'm not a programmer (well I diddled a bit in Basic and Logo way way back). Besides, it's Abelson! Read more
Published 19 months ago by L. Polin
3.0 out of 5 stars web address references are out of date
is a good product but the web references are all out of date because google sold the development environment to ... MIT ....
Published 20 months ago by Michi
1.0 out of 5 stars No reason to buy this book
If you ask MIT to be a member of the beta test, you get online access to this book. What a waste of money for me. Read more
Published 24 months ago by Lexa
1.0 out of 5 stars Book looks interesting but Service down till April 2012
I bought this book based on some of the good reviews and with the main reason to test how fast one could actually get nice apps up and running. Read more
Published on January 26, 2012 by Stefan Lodeweyckx
1.0 out of 5 stars Obsolete
I had plans to use this book to teach young people how to create their own apps for their Android cell phones. Read more
Published on January 5, 2012 by J. Earl
5.0 out of 5 stars App Inventor
A very good book to learn the basics of App Inventor and provide a solid framework of the product and system.
Published on December 14, 2011 by Paul J. Maruna
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