App Design 101
Time 7 hrs

Difficulty Intermediate
Prerequisites Programming 101
Departments Human Technologies
Authors Ross Parker
Groupings Individual
Minimum Year Group None


Want to build a mobile app? This unit builds on the previous learning encountered in Programming 101 and Web Design 101, and should result in a working Android app which you can run on your phone.


This work is shared under the following license: Creative Commons BY-SA-NC


The Pitch
Why should I bother learning this?
  • Want to make your phone do exactly what you want?
  • Learn how to make a mobile app, and change the way people use their phones.
  • Learn with MIT's App Inventor, and later graduate to XCode for iOS or ADK for Android.
What is needed to run this unit?
  • Laptop
  • Internet access
  • Android phone or emulation
  • Thunkable
Interdisciplinary Links
Do not try and force this. What areas of other subjects might this reflect and/discuss language. For IB, links with ToK.
Teacher Reflection
What was successful? What needs changing? Alternative Assessments and Lesson Ideas? What other Differentiation Ideas/Plans could be used?
  • This is a new project for 2015.
Any CC attribution, thanks, credit, etc.
  • App Design thumbnail by freepik on freepik under Freepik License.
  • App Inventor icon coopyright MIT, used under assumed fair use for education.

You do not have access to this action.
5 mins
Make Your Phone Do Your Bidding
The Pitch

  • Want to make your phone do exactly what you want?
  • Learn how to make a mobile app, and change the way people use their phones.
  • Learn with Thunkable, and later graduate to XCode for iOS or ADK for Android.

25 mins
Getting Started
Hands On
  • Thunkable is a great way to start learning how to make apps for iOS and Android
  • It is easier to use than Apple's XCode for iOS or Google's ADK for Android, yet it makes real apps that can run on your phone.
40 mins
App Design
Thinking & Planning
  • Spend some time thinking about the kind of app you want to make, looking online for ideas.
  • Try to pick something that is simple to start, but which you can build up as you go.
280 mins
App Building
Hands On
  • Once you have an idea, start playing around in Thunkable to see how you can make your idea work.
  • If your idea does not work, try and come up with a new idea.
  • Once you have an idea that works, build a simple version.
  • Keep improving your work until you have a version that you are happy with.
App Store
  • Although Thunkable enables publishing your app to the Apple App Store or Google Play Store, as a student working on a lesson in school, we would ask that students not publish their apps.
  • Publishing requires a developer account, which is not free. Apps published in an online store are also available publicly to anyone else to use, and this is much more exposure than we'd like to see for your initial apps.
  • You can still share your app via email using Thunkable's download options.
  • Becoming an app developer takes time and practice. If you're interested in continuing to develop your app skills and eventually publish a real app in the app store, let us know and we're happy to help you learn more about the process to become an app developer.
70 mins
Peer Review
  • Once your app is ready, shoot a short video of one of your peers using the app for the first time. Try to capture their reaction, and ask them to comment on how the app works, looks and feels.
  • Add a title, CC license and credits to your video, and then submit it as evidence, along with the app itself.

Charlie & Jasmine . Shared on 02/03/2015

Student Work

Click to View Work

Student Comment

In this unit, we started using AppInventor, an online software to create Apps. We created our own app, Wandernoob from scratch.

We learned quite a lot on the behind the scenes of creating an app, from creating screens to programming the buttons of the app. We also learned about how you can run an AI companion, which shows a digital phone on your computer;

We chose to end this unit and move on to Xcode, since we thought that AppInventor was very limited to what it can create. For example, there was a limitation to how many screens we can have that would be supported in AppInventor (10). Another limitation was that the databases were extraordinarily limited. The TinyWebDB could easily be overwritten by other people's information, meaning that it could not be in one place, solely for us. Another limitation of AppInventor was that the graphics and the look of the overall app did not look very nice and not up to our standards.

Even though this program had way too many limitations, it was still a good start to creating apps, since we barely know anything about it, and it was very nice to have a website learn the basics to app creation.

Teacher Comment

Charlie, well done on an excellent unit, where you and Jasmine have collaborated wonderfully to work on Wundernoob, your travel app. I was impressed that you took your work seriously enough to brand it, and to redo the graphics a number of times until the quality levels were high enough. In addition, you had a lot of great discussions about how to proceed, using the whiteboard to mockup some ideas. On the technical side, I know you worked hard on TinWebDB, and feel you made the right decision to abandon it when you did. Although in the end App Inventor proved insufficient for your needs, as you pointed out in your reflection, you used it to learn about app design, which you had not learned before. It seems that you are now reading for App Design 102, where I know you are planning on building your app for iOS.

I think your app has a shot at commercial success, if this interests you, so if you would like, do not use CC on the iOS version, but rather copyright the work under your and Jasmine's names.

Good luck!

Powered by Gibbon v24.0.00dev | © Ross Parker 2010-2022
Created under the GNU GPL at ICHK | Credits | Translators