If you would like to take your first steps in mobile app development then a book worth a look is App Inventor for Android by Jason Tyler. It is aimed at people starting out in programming and those who want to know how to get the most out of Google's innovative app creation platform of the same name. The book takes you from the basics to some surprisingly advanced applications. For me it it is a significant book too as I worked on it as the Technical Editor, my first time in such a role.
First a bit about the book. It starts with constructing a basic application that is designed to get you used to using the App Inventor interface. Next is the introduction of some programming fundamentals, so if you have never programmed before this could be really helpful. After that you get introduced to various features of the platform through the construction of various fun applications. You start by making a soundboard type application (an app that plays noises depending on what button you press). If you are in the UK and were watching The Apprentice last week you will have seen this type of app, but in this case the app makes calming noises rather than the rather random offerings in the show!
After that you get to build various apps including some basic games, a panic button app (though be careful with this one as I accidentally sent an SMS to a friend with it!), an M-commerce app, a bluetooth chat app and even a basic twitter app. Throughout the book you are shown step by step what needs to be done to build the app. I actually learnt quite a lot, including some rather handy tips to get much more out of the platform.
Obviously I cannot claim to be impartial when it comes to this book as I was involved in its production, but I think Jason Tyler has done a really good job. I was quite surprised to be asked to get involved. It started in November last year I did an online presentation about App Inventor for a group of teachers. A copy of the presentation was put online and shortly afterwards I was contacted by Wiley, the books publishers to ask if I would be interested in being Technical Editor. I said yes as I felt this would be a great personal development opportunity for me. My role would be to check the technical accuracy of the text, to point out anything that might not be appropriate for the intended audience and to suggest any easier ways to do things.
As a developer it would be useful as I would be learning much more about App Inventor, which I think is a very useful tool. Beyond that I felt the experience would be good as I would find out more about what is involved in putting together a technical book. Understanding the process and structure involved would help me do a better job if I were to decide to write a technical book of my own some day (I don't have any plans to, but it is something I am thinking of doing at some point). I now have much more of an idea of the sheer amount of effort that everybody involved puts in to produce a finished book.
I've been paid now and I am not on commission but I would still say that this is a book well worth going out and buying. You can pick it up for around £20 and it is a very useful and putting together the apps is good fun. If you are an Ubuntu user check out my post on getting App Inventor to work with this operating system (this is not covered in the book). I also write about App Inventor from time to time so look for posts with the appinventor tag (including the RefSignals app).
The book is rather well timed too for a different reason. A few days ago I heard that tablet support is coming to App Inventor. With many new Android tablets just arriving on the market this could be a great way to experiment with new ideas for tablet applications.