But what we can do with our phones is usually limited to what is included on it from the store, or what we can download from app stores online either for free or for a price.
What if you could make your own apps? World renowned technology university MIT has developed what it calls App Inventor, an easy-to-use interface that uses drag-and-drop blocks to put together applications.
To use App Inventor, all you need is a Google Gmail account and to go to their website here, and click on Create Apps! in the upper right corner. From there you will be brought to the workspace where you create your apps.
MIT has also gone through the trouble of creating a series of easy-to-follow videos that walk you through the whole process of creating apps. The first tutorial shows you how to make your phone repeat a simple message you create for it by pushing a button.
Apps are easy to upload to your phone using a QR code and installing the app to your phone. You can follow the instructions here. You can drag and drop the icon onto your phone's main screen just like any other application. Subsequent tutorials show you how to access your phone's sensors and give your apps more capabilities.
The process is so easy, virtually anyone can figure it out.
For makerspaces, a workshop using App Inventor to help students put together their own apps would be a great way to introduce ordinary people to coding, a subject that often overwhelms people quickly, but one many people understand the value of learning. For children, it could be a great introduction to a career path that will benefit both themselves and our increasingly technological society.
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