App Inventor — How to start?

This article explains the first steps to get your App Inventor up and running before start developing your first mobile App.

If you do not know what App Inventor is, no problem. App Inventor is a visual environment to develop mobile Apps. In other words, you do not need to spend months into a programming language course to start your first working mobile App. This is the first in a series of articles teaching how to develop mobile Apps from scratch. Well, let’s get started!

App Inventor is an online environment, what means you need to be connected to the Web in order to use it. If you are reading this website it is very likely you have a Web connection at this precise moment.

The second requirement is that you have a browser. Unfortunately AppInventor does not work with Internet Explorer, then you will need to download and install one (only one!) of the following options:

Having one of these browsers (yes, this is how we call the program that allows us to navigate and visualise websites), the next step is to open it and visit the following website:

Here is where everything happens. In order to start your first mobile App look for the orange button at the top right of the page with the words “Create apps!” and click on it.

Click at the “Create apps!” button to start using App Inventor

Calm down! If you see the Google Account webpage when you click in this button you are not crazy! The App Inventor uses the Google Engine as the basis for the system and you need a Google Account in order to use App Inventor. If you hate Google I am sorry. If you do not hate them then enter you account details (your GMail account for instance) or create a Google Account clicking on the link “Create account”.

Create a Google Account or enter you Google Account details.

After having entered your details App Inventor will ask your permission to access your Google Account. You want to grant access click in “Allow”. Next, the Terms of Service will appear. Read it carefully and if you agree click on “I accept the terms of service!” at the bottom of the page.

Now we are almost there! The App Inventor team will ask you to answer a short survey. You do not need to, but if you want to be nice with the kind developers of App Inventor please fill out their survey.

If you do fill the survey or if you decided to fill it later or never, your be welcomed to App Inventor. Just click “Continue” to start developing.

Let’s start!

Before start our first ever project I need you to stop for one minute and do a VERY IMPORTANT decision…

Do you want to use your cell phone or your computer to test your App?

If you have an Android cell phone and Wi-fi access the decision is easy. Use them. But if you do not have an Android cell phone with Wi-fi access you will need to download an Emulator.

Basically the Emulator is a program that simulates a cell phone in your computer. It will be used to see how your App will work in a real cell phone. You can test on the emulator but try to get an Android phone as well because it will be very cool to see the App in an actual smartphone.

If you want to use an Android phone with Wifi:

Open the Play Store and download the “MIT AI2 Companion” App. It will be used to test your app in real time.

If you want to use your computer:

Download the Emulator and follow the installation instructions according to the type of your computer:

Now you have everything required to start developing your first mobile App. Check how to start a project in our next article.