I came across Anywhere Software’s Basic4Android today. It allows you to create Visual Basic language Android applications that compile to native Android applications.
There’s support for SQL databases, GPS, Serial ports (Bluetooth), Camera, XML parsing, Web services (HTTP, JSON, Animations, Network (TCP/IP), Text To Speech (TTS), Voice Recognition, WebView, AdMob (ads), Graphics and even Services (background tasks).
It comes with it’s own GUI Designer that allows you to run applications in the simulator. Commercially, I like the fact that it’s a one-off payment with no extra runtimes or dependencies – one reason why many other platform runtimes failed in the past.
I like the idea because it allows hobbyists to create quick applications without having to use Eclipse or Java. Some might argue that programming with Java is fairly easy anyway. However, if you are a hobbyist, I think you might want something a little simpler. Basic4Android seems to fit this need and is certainly better than Android App Inventor that seemed to promise a lot and just delivered too many limitations.
Basic4Android might also be useful for professional developers to create quick proof of concept or demo applications prior to polishing by re-writing in Java. However, what with the range of UI controls available, the proof of concept might, in some circumstances, be good enough for use for the real thing.