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Review: Andromo - Free Android app builder


Do you want to build your own apps for Android but don't know your SDK from your Eclipse, or your Java from your Emulator? There is a site out there that can assist you, up to a point. If you are looking to create a content consuming app then Andromo could be what you are looking for. If you want to do more complex function then you will probably need to look at using the full Android development suite of tools.

I set myself the task of trying to create an app that would show me all the MoDaCo RSS feeds in one application - nothing too testing. I was very surprised, and I think Paul was too, when I came back 5 minutes later with a fully functioning app called 'MoDaCo feeds running on my HTC Desire'. I will take you through the process below.

Before I do you need to be aware of a few things. Firstly, the app creation is free, and you are free to distribute on the Android Market if you desire. The caveat here is that all apps created for free will contain adverts, of which you can get 50% of the revenue if you have an AdMob account. Your alternative is to pay $99 per app, per year for an ad free version of your application. For the novice builder who just wants to play around the free version will suffice and the ads aren't hugely intrusive although they are pretty low quality graphically as you will see from the screenshots. You also need to make sure you read the Terms and Conditions as there may be parts which you are not willing to agree to. My biggest issue with the terms is that you are only granted non-exclusive rights to the applications. This could mean that Andromo themselves would be able to sell your app. That's not to say they will but only Andromo can say for sure. Finally, the terms make it clear that any app is subject to US laws, including exporting.

So onto the creation process. Once you have signed up you need to go through 7 or 8 stages to create your app.
More after the break....

Posted Image

  • App Info - name the app, and pick an icon
  • Activities - this is where you can choose your content. Feeds, Youtube, Audio, Maps, Images are all options.
  • Styles, Dashboard, and Action Bar - all of these allow you to change the design of your app. Colours, Backgrounds, and Alignments can all be changed
  • Build - this is where you get to hit the big green GO button. This sends the build request to the Andromo servers.
  • Promote - allows you to show off your app to the rest of the Andromo community. This is optional.

If all goes to plan you should receive an email within 10 minutes with your APK file. You can load this up on your phone and test it.
Andromo also lets you modify created apps so if you want to add functionality at some point you don't have to start over.

In conclusion, Andromo is a very effective tool for creating apps. I have created a few with my different RSS feeds in them, each named according to the feeds it contains. I don't think anyone else would be particularly interested in them but for the sake of 5 minutes work I am not bothered.

Try it over at the Andromo site and let us know so we can download your apps!

If you want to download my 'MoDaCo Feeds' app, please help yourself! :-)

About the author

Mark Dearlove's Photo
Mark is a Technical Trainer for a major software company by day, wannabe journo by night. Gadget freak whose mantra is 'Give me more RAM dammit'

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7 Comments

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kaizoku_san
Jan 27 2012 01:47 PM
nice :)
not a coder/programmer, but would like to create apps.
will be giving this a go
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Lorne Laliberte
Jan 27 2012 10:38 PM
Nice review! I wrote about it at the Andromo blog. :)

My biggest issue with the terms is that you are only granted non-exclusive rights to the applications. This could mean that Andromo themselves would be able to sell your app. That's not to say they will but only Andromo can say for sure.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dddAi8FF3F4

:)

That part of our legalese relates to the Andromo source code within the app. We can't grant exclusive rights to the Andromo code itself because that would prevent other people from using it. That restriction doesn't apply to the content, though...the content's all yours.

I asked Colin Adams (the CEO of Andromo) for clarification, and this is what he said:

Basically we own the 'engine' for the app (the underlying source code and processes), but the content you add to the app remains the property of the original copyright holder. When we build your app for you we grant you a license to distribute the app 'engine' - no royalties or fees or anything like that. However, we also grant the same sort of license to thousands of other people wanting to make apps with Andromo - hence the 'non-exclusive' clause. I'm not a lawyer, but that's the spirit of it.


Lorne Laliberte / Andromo.com
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Mark Dearlove
Jan 28 2012 09:04 AM
Thanks for the response Lorne - good to get clarification of the legalese.

I think its a great tool, particularly now that Google have pulled the Android App Inventor.
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How Do I Use Android?
Jan 28 2012 03:22 PM
Looks promising for building some types of apps. I'll give it a try.


I really miss App Inventor. It's supposed to come back online in the first quarter of 2012: http://info.appinventor.mit.edu/
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it seems pretty clear cut regarding the rights granted

12. License Grant For Content. Subject
to the terms of this Agreement, you are
granted non-exclusive rights to
download and use the software
applications generated by the Andromo
service (“Content”) for purposes of
personal or commercial use.

it states the apps generated by their software so still seems that you have no rights to the apps you create.
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Lorne Laliberte
Jan 31 2012 06:29 PM

it states the apps generated by their software so still seems that you have no rights to the apps you create.


Sorry, but I think to say "you have no rights" is incorrect; you are granted rights for personal and commercial use -- but they are non-exclusive rights, because the internal source code to the apps is used for other apps and is proprietary. I'm told this is a standard legal clause for software that builds redistributable applications, e.g. setup builders on Windows. (Indigo Rose has been making software tools since 1991.)

See Colin's explanation in my comment above or in my post at blog.andromo.com, but basically that clause is there because the same underlying source code is used to build apps for other users.

I think its a great tool, particularly now that Google have pulled the Android App Inventor.


Thanks Mark...we've put a lot of effort into it.

Switching to Android was a bit of a paradigm shift for a bunch of Windows software guys, but it's been a fun challenge. It's nice to be working on something that people get excited about, compared to the relatively boring world of setup builders and patching tools. :)

BTW, App Inventor isn't dead yet...MIT are planning to revive it later this year.

The existence of App Inventor was one of the reasons we didn't make Andromo more complicated. It didn't make sense to offer another generic Android programming tool, so we decided to make something aimed more at content producers -- something that would be as easy to use as Blogger or Wordpress, but still capable of generating native Android apps. I think there's still a lot of work for us to do, but the feedback we're getting is really positive so far.
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went on the website, it appeares this app is no longer free, as they now charge to create an app, or am getting something wrong as usual?
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