My Devil’s Publishing Dictionary Android App

Readers of this blog will likely know that I have an Android phone, which I’ve used to help train for marathons, broadcast a relay race, tether to my iPad, and coauthor a book on the best apps you can put on it. Well, lately, not content with what’s already available for my phone, I’ve gotten interested in creating my own apps for it.

I’m not a programmer, by any means, so my first step was to try out Google’s App Inventor, which makes it pretty easy for amateurs like me to get started creating our own apps. Following one of the tutorials, my first app ended up looking something like this (you can download the app to try it out yourself, but just make sure you’ve gone to Menu -> Settings -> Applications and checked “Unknown sources (Allow installation of non-Market applications)”):

My First Android App
That was fun, and a pretty cool proof of concept, but it wasn’t very original (see full tutorial for the app here). So, I wondered what I could do with my limited skill set that actually was original. After starting to fool around with Tiny WebDB and Google App Engine, what I really needed was some good content, so I dug deep into some preexisting stuff I could mine.

I’ve been a longtime fan of the Devil’s Publishing Dictionary, posted in two parts at the Paperback Writer blog (see Part I and Part II), so I asked the author if she’d give me permission to use her content to develop my app, and she graciously agreed. I’ve since mocked up a prototype. At the moment, the results look something like this:

Anyway, I’m hoping readers with Android phones will be interested in helping me beta test the app, so I’m offering it as a free download. What do you think? Does it work on your phone? Any feedback on the interface or other aspects you’d like to see improved? I’d love to hear whatever thoughts you might have, and I’d frankly just be pleased to know you’ve taken it for a test drive.

UPDATE (9/23/2010): More than one beta tester has pointed out that the text box next to “Choose a term” doesn’t actually accept user input, which I admit makes things confusing. The way I created the app, the button triggers the text to fill the box, which then calls the correct definition (the button doesn’t itself perform the action). But that should happen behind the scenes, so the text box really should be just a label. I’ve made this change and set the text box to invisible (download the update here), which I hope is less confusing:

Devil's Dictionary version 1.1

Thanks to all who have tested the app so far, and keep the great feedback coming!

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