By Justin Conlon ’15
On Nov. 14, 15 and 16, First-year students will have the opportunity to take part in a one-hour session where they will learn how to develop and build their own applications for use on Android phones. Students are encouraged to bring their own Android phones, but for those without an Android-based phone, temporary ones will be supplied. Also provided is free pizza and soda, available during each session.
These sessions are a preview of the course “Computing with Mobile Phones,” which will be offered next semester. This course, which will be hosted by the Computer Science department, will serve as a unique and useful way to satisfy the numerical and symbolic reasoning requirement while providing students with a skill set that is becoming increasingly relevant as phones come to occupy an even larger part of our lives.
The sessions will be led by Professor of Computer Science Ralph Morelli, with assistance from Pauline Lake ‘13, who is involved in ongoing research regarding the session-material. The sessions will focus on App Inventor, and how it can be used to run a simple tutorial application.
App Inventor is a browser-based program that allows users to develop applications for any Android phone without requiring any prior knowledge of coding. Using the program is intuitive and relies on a system of ”program blocks,” which are little squares and rectangles that can be visually pieced together like a puzzle by using your computer mouse in the browser. All the while, the work completed on App Inventor updates onto any connected Android device so that you can see your progress and test out your application at every stage of development. Even without an Android Phone, apps can be built and tested using the emulator, which is software that behaves just like an Android phone, but on your computer. The App Inventor software is also compatible with all mainstream operating systems including Mac OS X.