This week in EDTECH564 we completed the Space Invader tutorial. The app was easy to build but I found it overall quite boring. I decided I would try to improve on the game by converting it to a BrickBreaker type game. I recreated the images and created a fancy color flashing ball. Changing the behaviors so that the ball bounces off of things instead of disappearing was fairly straight forward, especially when referring to the BallBouncer app I created earlier this semester for EDTECH534. My biggest challenge was trying to create the angle bounce off the platform based on where the ball landed. After a while of not figuring it out, I opted to have the bounce angle be random and changed the platform to have odd angles off of it. The game starts off really easy with the ball moving quite slow but as the user progresses, the speed of the ball increases and the game gets quite challenging.
This week in EDTECH534 we created a “find your car” app. We played with location, storing data (I ❤ tinyDB), and the WebViewer. The premise as well as the tutorial is pretty straight forward. The user opens the app (with GPS on) and can save their current location allowing an easy return to that location with the click of a button. My only problem with the app was how the screen was laid out. With all the data on the screen, when the map opens in the WebViewer, you couldn’t really see anything. I added a button on the bottom to allow the user to open the map in the Maps app. I also rearranged the data to take up as little screen space as possible.
I can see this app being useful for finding your car in big parking lots like it was intended for. I also see this app being super useful on a field trip. Although, in version 2.0 I’d love to add some kind of breadcrumb functionality as well as the ability to have pre-programmed points, like we did in the Salem tour app.. maybe a combo of the two?
This week in EDTECH534 I completed the Map Tour tutorial using my favorite day trip location, Salem, Massachusetts. The tutorial was pretty simple this week so I took it as an opportunity to explore using multiple screens in my app. In the last few weeks I thought about adding a game-over screen a couple of times but haven’t been brave enough to really try it (plus I was thinking a tutorial would present this to me eventually). The very first part of the tutorial, using the Activity Starter, did not work for me at all. I suspected it was due to the properties entered. Since I’ve worked on Java apps before, the paths LOOKED ok to me but in this context, I had no idea. This forced me to use the Web Viewer and pray it worked. Thankfully, it did. In the process, since I still had to use Activity Starter, I found that all I really needed was the Action and URI properties.
When the user clicks on the “Choose Your Destination” ListPicker on the first screen (Screen1), they are presented with a pre-defined list of landmarks. The user then selects the landmark they want to explore. The app then opens a new screen (Screen2) with 2 Web Viewers on it, one for the landmark web site and one for the landmark Google map. Now, I have a Samsung Galaxy s6edge+ so my screen real-estate is ample and I still felt a little cramped at this point so I added “pop-out” buttons that open each option in their respective apps. I found in my testing that the device back button kicked me out of the app altogether so I also added an in-app back button (come to find out, it kicked me out because I was using the Companion app, the device back works just fine in the finished app).
This week in EDTECH564 we started to build mobile apps using AppInventor. Since I am taking EDTECH534 at the same time and have been using the tool for a few weeks now, I completed this alternate assignment “Ball Bounce” instead of repeating Hello Purr. The original tutorial has a ball on screen that you fling with your finger to bounce off the walls. I extended the app with a colorful background, purposefully overly colorful to try and add some difficulty to the game. I also added a good guy and a bad guy. If you fling the ball into a good guy, you add to the score and the bad guy takes from your score. Additionally, in order to increase difficulty with game play, I increase the speed of the ball with every bounce off a wall. There are also buttons to stop the ball while keeping game play alive and reset the game. The “Score” and ” Speed” labels allow you to keep track of your game play on the fly.
This week in EDTECH534 we created an app that auto-responds text messages while the app is open. I got off to a quick start on the app after feeling so successful last week. I worked the tutorial as it was written. The tutorials are getting a little more difficult as it expects you to build on skills from previous weeks. After I figured out the new format, I was able to get all the parts to work. I was surprised at the functionality available to me via AppInventor. With the app open, and a text comes in, the app reads the senders phone number and the text. Then it sends a response text back letting the sender know whatever the user has programmed. Finally, the app also appends the users location to the auto-response. For my extension, I added some pre-canned responses as well as the ability for the user to turn off the location functionality. I also played around with some more layout do-dads.
This week we created a whack-a-mole type game. The Mole Mash tutorial we completed introduced us to the ImageSprite, Canvas, Clock , and Sound components. We created Procedures to implement repeated behavior, such as moving the mole & bee and practiced using Math blocks. I really enjoyed working through this tutorial and am feeling more and more comfortable in the AppInventor environment. I’ve found myself wanting to explore just a bit farther each week and sometimes have to hold myself back. Not a bad problem to have 😉
For my customizations, I enhanced the imagery and tried to use good layout design practice by organizing data and function logically. I added a slider to control the speed of the mole and a label to let the user know what speed they were playing at. I also had to work the speed into the reset button.
This week in EDTECH 534 we continued getting familiar with AppInventor by completing the PaintPot tutorial. I really enjoyed the tutorial and learned quite a bit. I ended up deviating from my normal homework routine and started this assignment very early in the week. This allowed me to finish the tutorial with enough time to play with the tool. Admittedly, there were some things I just couldn’t figure out and gave up on but on the flip side, there was still plenty that I managed, notably the new blank canvas buttons. I had difficulty getting the slider to operate the stroke width but was able to work it out with a solution from a fellow classmate. I am hoping to explore more with AppInventor’s ability to control the interface, I suppose I am a UX designer through and through 😉 (a nostalgic reference to a past career)