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on 24 January 2012
I bought two text books in December; beautiful publications, excellent illustrations and examples, top quality paper, etc. Unfortunately, there was no warning on the Amazon site that Google had announced withdrawal of support for App Inventor in August 2011 and it was taken out of service on 31st December 2011!! The starting URL in the book takes you to a Google page saying that it is no longer supported. The book therefore is not fit for its intended purpose: to design Android apps using App Inventor.

There is some indication that MIT "may" take over support, but until this becomes clear, I would advise everyone to avoid this book - you will not be able to use App Inventor. I suspect the publisher will have to reissue the book with corrections, if MIT provides support in the future, as most of the existing URLs will no longer work.
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on 2 August 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As computers get more and more easy to use the coding skills of that grew up on ZX Spectrums and Commodore 64s is being lost to the 'youth of today'. It's great then, that this knowledge is making something of a comeback with the popularity of mobile phone 'apps'.

Coding is difficult not because of the concepts, which are simple, but the arcane syntax you need to master to get the blimmin' thing to do what you want. Google's App Inventor is brilliant then, because it does all this for you. All you need is an idea, and you simply snap building blocks of code together. You can't get the code wrong, because if the syntax doesn't work then the building blocks won't fit. Brilliant.

But, you still need to start somewhere and learning about loops and decision making and so on can be a bit daunting. That's where this book comes in. Very simply explaining how to write code using App Inventor, taking you through step by step and building apps as you go.

So why four stars and not five? Well, it's not quite as clear as it could be. For example, I'd not actually come across App Inventor before receiving this book, and nowhere does it really explain what it actually is. It's assumed you've already got all the software and are raring to go. The installation of the app-writing software is explained rather perfunctorily in an appendix, and at this point i was a bit confused as to what I was actually doing.

Once you're up and running though, it's fairly straightforward. There are few niggling errors where you'll find your work doesn't quite match the examples in the book, even though you've followed the instructions perfectly but these actually help the learning process as you'll try to find out why.

So, not perfect, and you'll need a bit of patience to really get to grips with things, but this is a good book to get started with if you're already playing about with App Inventor. Good fun and recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 15 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a programming book for beginners, this is very good.

The claim of "no experience required!" is an ambitious one, and I don't think it's completely true, but it's not bad. If you've had ANY programming experience before at all, even if it was 25 years ago, then you'll have no problem here. If you really have absolutely no experience at all, you might want to read some online 'programming for beginners' websites first.

There are a very large amount of screengrabs and other explanatory images, and it's all explained in a very methodical way. If anything, once you get the hang of it after the first few chapters, you start to wish that the book wouldn't be quite so prescriptive, as it continues to tell you exactly which button to press, one by one, a little bit longer than is probably necessary. At one point this begins to feel like filler material even for beginners, but once you get confident in what you're doing you can skip on ahead without having to follow every step to the letter.

On the other hand, I do have some PC programming experience, though I'm not an expert. Compared to something like Visual Basic or PHP, App Inventor is, out of necessity, quite a different beast and I found this book a really good way to introduce me to app-based programming. There's a definite novelty to it, and quite a different mindset too, in that you have a lot of phone data available to you- GPS position, orientation of handset, built-in camera, yet users will rarely use a keyboard.

App Inventor itself is a very visual, drag-and-drop approach to programming. Some would say that proper programmers would use Java and that App Inventor is just for novices. There are some core programming ideas behind it and you can create your program by typing in the code if you prefer, but the slightly Lego-esque approach to building program components starts to feel a bit limiting after a while, and more like a toy than a serious coding platform. This is no fault of this book, but with some prior experience of the Basic programming language, I ended up moving on from App Inventor to a program called Basic 4 Android pretty quickly.

A problem that this book does have is that even now, App Inventor is in beta and in a constant state of change. In the three months since publication, quite a few important details have already changed, ranging from the URL of App Inventor itself (no longer under the Googlelabs domain) to the whole future of App Inventor as a project- Google have announced that they will end support for it at the end of 2011 and make it open source instead, so the future of it is a little bit in doubt. Quite a few things that were correct at time of going to press are either already inaccurate, or will be inaccurate soon- for example it takes several pages to explain how to 'bodge' the effect of having multiple different pages in your app, where future versions of the software will have that as a standard feature.

So my reservations are more to do with App Inventor than with this book. What this book sets out to do, it mostly does excellently, and if you want to have a play with getting your Android phone to make the sound of splashing waves when you press the picture of the ocean (chapter 1) then I recommend it highly.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 19 July 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have used this book and have produced my first simple app by following it. This means, for me at least, the book is a great success and well worth getting for those interested in producing Android apps. The book takes you through the production of an actual app from conception to the finished app on the phone. The approach is fresh and intuitive and I very much enjoyed using the book. Apart from teaching beginners like me in app development it is also a great treasure trove of help for more experienced users. My first app was simple, it just allowed me to record food calories and counted them up for me each day and graphed it for me, and the graph went red for too much indulgence and green for under my allowance. Not much use to the masses but allows me to track my eating habits and find out where I am going wrong. I have actually found it quite useful now I have to look at everything and see how many calories there are in what I was eating my eyes have been opened and I am now actually losing some weight. The big surprise was coffee and how many calories there is in machine made coffee from fast food outlets. I'm going off the subject but as you can see I managed to get from idea to working app in about a week using this book. The book succeeds where others have failed in my opinion, the style and presentation want you to keep going and helpful hints are there all the way. I wish all technical books were written in this style as it would be a much better approach than the traditional text book type. All in all a great book for those wanting to make Android apps and have not got the time (or patience) to spend lots of time digging for information. I hope the author will do an iPhone apps version (hint hint!) A great buy.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 26 May 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Does not quite do as it says. I definately fall into the "no experience required" category, and this book is very technical and difficult to understand. Some fairly extensive knowledge of terms and computers is needed to be able to use this book.

However, it is very comprehensive and I'm sure if you had a bit more know-how than myself you could get apps up and running. It's just not for a complete beginner.
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VINE VOICEon 9 May 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Unfortunately this book really doesn't fit the purpose it was intended for as Google have terminated the App Inventor.
Shame really as a lot of people would like to try their hand at this.

However, my advice is shelf the book for the time being as there might be further news on this in the future.
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VINE VOICEon 9 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Google App Inventor is a nifty tool which allows you to build applications using drag and drop techniques. The screen gives you coloured blocks which represent code routines and you simply drag them onto the interface, linking them together almost like Lego to build your application.

The book opens with a couple of introductory chapters explaining in simple terms what App Inventor is, how to install it (although I confess I had to do some more research on this as some steps seem to be omitted from the instructions) and finally the basic nuts and bolts of building your application. After this the book becomes more of a walkthrough, each chapter focusing on an application, and the intention is that you will build the app as you go along, following the steps in a kind of "do as I do" manner. None of the applications are particularly attractive, and none will make you think "I've been looking for something like that for years!" but each introduces a new technique, another tool to use, and by the end of the book you've seen pretty much one of everything. If I have a criticism of the book it is regarding the approach used in that it is more of a lab manual than a textbook, so rather than reading it as a book you are really expected to use it as a hands-on guide, and it isn't really suited as a reference book for later use as it is so focused on the examples used.

The "No experience required" banner on the book is slightly misleading as although you don't have to type the code in you still have to know what routines you wish to run, the order to run them and so on. It should also be pointed out that App Inventor can only be used with an internet connection, and you also need an Android phone to be connected to your computer while using it, as you design the application on your computer and it appears on your phone as you go, so you test it as you work.

As a final note, it should also be mentioned that the tool may not be around forever. Google have recently announced they are discontinuing their "labs" division and App Inventor is a part of this. The URL for the product is changing to appinventorbeta.com rather than the URL mentioned in the book, and at the end of 2011 App Inventor will be transferred to MITs Centre for Mobile Learning, at which point it will all change again.

All in all the book is a good introduction to App Inventor and as long as you are prepared to work through the projects rather than just read it it comes together nicely. All you'll need after that is the imagination to dream up your own projects, and then the time to put them together. You may then decide to study Android development properly and get to grips with the code side of things, and make your first million as an Android developer :-)
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on 23 January 2012
I was excited about this book as it looks to be exactly what I need and appears well written.

However I purchased it for Kindle on my Galaxy Note got as far as the chapter on setting up for Google App Inventor and was then directed to a page stating that it no longer exists. I looked it up on Wikipedia and it says it was taken offline on Dec 31 2011 and plans to return at some point early 2012 with a new site. Not much use to anyone wanting to read this book right now.

Such a shame, looks like a great book and I was looking forward to my first Tec book using kindle on my Note.
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on 21 July 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you'd like to take your first steps in mobile app development then this book could well be worth a look. It is aimed at people starting out in programming and those who want to know how to get the most out of the android platform.

The book starts with the basics, journeying towards some surprisingly advanced applications.

It's a good quality, informative paperback a4 sized book, pretty thick, with the pages clearly set out, and being pretty straightforward to understand.

I am only just starting to look into the possibility of android app programming, so cannot pretend I have read through everything in this book (as it's obviously studied, rather than just read as you would a normal book), but so far I'd say it was spurring me onto wanting to keep studying this fascinating subject.

The author is informative, without it descending into being daunting, and I can honestly say if you'd like somewhere to start, this book is probably well worth a look at.

Highly recommended!
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on 19 July 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having had a dabble in mobile app development, whether it's via SDK or third party tools which utilises other programming languages, I have tried to follow online tutorials but none of them really stuck, or I found documentation limited which was rather frustrating.

I've been systematically following the chapters in this book, and so far so good, I have been able to create a few basic apps already with no prior experience. To my surprise App Inventor required no coding at all, although it would be good to have some form of experience in programming to understand some of the basic concepts. However if you really are a novice and never written code before Tyler still explains programming concepts at a basic level and dishes out advice on how you should manage your projects. I found explanations, tips and hints were clear, and downloadable source files for the projects in the book helps with the learning process. This is especially great if you are generally new to software development.

The course of the book is very well structured, as each chapter progresses it builds and extends functionality from examples earlier in the book. There is some humour in it which makes the book fun to follow. Example projects includes playing media, email communication, Twitter, a couple of games, bar code and database interaction, Bluetooth chat client, and a location aware facility. Illustrations and diagrams are in colour which makes it easy for you to mirror your app development environment when following instructions. I also liked how Tyler takes you from development planning all the way to packaging and launch. Great as a foundation for building knowledge to use in your own apps.

As a side note you can use App Inventor on cross platform machines and setting up was a doddle, there is plenty of documentation from references in the book.
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