Top 5 Google Labs projects

GoogleLabs.com is a self-described "playground" where anyone can try out almost-finished Google experimental projects. Recent alumni include Google Maps, Alerts, and its SMS text message directory service.

The current collection showcases 50-plus "bubbling test tubes." There's no guarantee that any will graduate to full Google status, but here are five projects that are worth donning a virtual lab coat to test for yourself.

5. App Inventor for Android

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This do-it-yourself App Inventor lets anyone create mobile applications for Android phones, regardless of his or her programming know-how.

Instead of writing code, users design apps visually and add prewritten code prepared by Google's team.

App Inventor can create games, ranging from basic drawing apps to motion-sensitive ball-and-maze puzzles. The Lab website describes how you can use text-to-speech capabilities, GPS-location sensors, and storage databases to build apps that will communicate with websites, automatically text friends when you're busy driving, or even "help you remember where you parked your car."

Before opening the project to the public in July, Google tested the App Inventor in classrooms across the United States. Google touts it as a powerful tool for educators, a simple way to expose students to computer programming, and a means for encouraging "creators of technology rather than just consumers of technology."

Go to GoogleLabs.com for the full list of experiments.

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