Using Components and Sensors in App Inventor and Thunkable
Using particular sensors or components can help your app be a good solution to your problem. Learning about new components and sensors can also help earn points in the technical part of the Demo Video section of the judging rubric.
In this lesson, you will…
- Review different components you can use in App Inventor or Thunkable
- Find one sensor or component that can help your app
- Research a tutorial and code at least one sensor or component into your app
Smartphone Components and Sensors
Now it’s your turn to choose and code the components, some of which include sensors, that you want your app to use. The various components available in App Inventor and Thunkable will allow your app to do many different things - be sure to choose the ones that are right for you!
This lesson is a reference for you to learn about many components you can use in App Inventor or Thunkable. You don’t need all of the components listed, but you should look for ones that will help you build your app.
Here are some important components mobile phones have:
|Component||What it does|
|Camera, speaker, microphone||Allow you to take pictures, videos, record sounds|
|GPS||Shows the physical location of the phone|
|Storage on a phone||Allows you to store preferences, images, and sounds|
|Connectivity to the web||Allows you to connect the phone to information on the web|
|Accelerometer, gyroscope||Shows how fast the phone is moving|
|Phone calls, text messages, contacts lists||Allows you to make phone calls, send text messages, and connect to people|
In the new drag and drop version of Thunkable, any non-visible components will be found in the Blocks tab, not the Designer. So if you are searching for components and cannot find them, try looking for them in the Blocks tab.
The components below are ones beyond the standard User Interface components. Both platforms continue to add more features and components all the time. This is not a complete list, but does cover most of the available components in App Inventor and Thunkable.
If your app needs features related to things like photographs, audio, and video, these components will be very helpful for you.
If your app needs to gather information about the world around it or the user, here are some sensors that App Inventor and Thunkable can access. Please note that not all phones or mobile devices will have all of these sensors available. Be careful adding features if you are not sure your target audience will have access to devices with these sensors built in.
If you need your app to make phone calls, send emails, text and share certain types of information, these social components may be helpful.
These allow your app to interact with places outside of your app, like the web and other apps.
Activity: Learn how to use a new sensor and component
For this activity, you will choose at least one component or sensor to use in your app. One of the best skills you can learn as a programmer is how to find resources to help you when you are stuck or need to learn how to use something. For this activity, you will find your own tutorial or video to learn from.
Here are some good places to start looking for tutorials or instructions:
- You should start by searching online. Make sure to use keywords that include the name of your component, such as “Proximity Sensor App Inventor” or “Google Maps Thunkable”
- Search for videos on YouTube. Make sure to use keywords just like an online search.
- Try using MIT’s Component Reference and find your component
- MIT has an entire page of App Inventor Tutorials
This lesson is a reference for all of the components you can use in App Inventor and Thunkable. You did the hard work of finding a tutorial or video to learn how to use your component.
- How did you find the tutorial or information you needed for the activity?
- How will you use your work from this lesson in your app?
What are some other areas of your life where you can use this “find your own tutorial” skill?