App Inventor – automatic texts

The design of the notext app is very simple - a message to explain what it does and a box to type in a new message to send

The screen layout is simple

Today I was trying out a new book called App Inventor – Create your own Android Apps, which starts with the tutorials from the app inventor site but with more background explanation then continues to introduce further concepts via example apps.  The first of the new apps is called No Texting While Driving, and the authors are anxious to explain that this app was thought up by a new student during a session to introduce app inventor, and developed by the group as the session went on.  A similar app has since been developed commercially; whether it was inspired by this student’s original idea or not is not known.

The purpose of the app is to provide an automatic message in reply to any texts received while the app is open – this may simply say “I’m driving and will contact you when I’m free” or can be edited to a custom message.

Instructions are given to develop the app further in order to read the incoming message and sender details out loud and provide a geographical location with the outgoing message so the recipient knows where you are, but I didn’t continue that far as I was anxious to test out the main functionality.

blocks for the beginning of the no texting while driving app

The beginning of the NoText app

I found the instructions themselves fairly straightforward to follow, and good explanations are given as to how things work, but I did find it easiest to skip straight to the pictures showing the assembled blocks, referring to the table of components where necessary to find out what section a block was in.

The app seemed to work fairly well, with the only issue being changing the message to be sent – my version ended up sending any new message in addition to the old message, rather than replacing it.

Still, I was impressed with the ease of connecting to the text message system in order to read and reply to incoming messages, and feel that the system really is simple enough that having seen many of these concepts in use once it’s easy to adapt them for your own uses.

The book looks like it continues with many more interesting apps, such as using a barcode scanner, geographical locations, animated apps, games, quizzes and a chapter on web APIs for anyone who’s really serious about app design.

I do, however, find it fiddly at times to get app inventor up and running, particularly the code editor, as on my main machine it seems to get nowhere and on my laptop it takes a while to load – not ideal when in a classroom setting. Still, I would love to have App Inventor available for computer club sessions, and maybe for the coursework task from OCR if it proves reliable enough.



About emmyleigh
Writer/editor/proofreader who loves technology

One Response to App Inventor – automatic texts

  1. I tried this book as well. It was good, but I got much more out of this course I found online:

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