With the burgeoning app market, creating a mobile application might be the next big step in expanding your business, but you are not an app maker and have no experience in programming – how do you go about making an application? You could hire an in-house developer, or an external company, to build your app but perhaps you are a start-up and can’t face the costs of full-blown app development. This is where app-making software comes in.
Applying the philosophy championed by blogging platforms such as WordPress years ago, app makers allow non-coders to design their application with visual interfaces, like in ShoutEm‘s case, dragging and dropping pre-coded elements and selecting themese, color schemes and designs. Meanwhile, the app making software “codes” the resulting application in the background, ready for review and publication. Some even go as far as trawling a pre-existing website to import content directly on to the mobile application once your app is made.
The advantages are obvious: someone with no experience of coding can use the app maker to design and launch a functioning application in very little time, keeping full control of the creative process, without paying for an entire development cycle. There are costs, of course: most companies, like BiznessApps and Como, require a yearly fee to maintain the app on their servers. Publishing paid-for applications in Apple’s App Store has a yearly cost of $99, while Google Play has a one-time fee of $25 which cannot be avoided. Buildfire has a free price plan which will produce a HTML5-only app, while AppMakr does the same for a mere $1 a month, while the only entirely free service is the open source Appsbar, which offers HTML5 and Android apps for free at the condition that they are not paid-for applications.
Making an app with pre-coded elements means the majority of them are coded in HTML5, the mobile-friendly language; this means your app is instantly accessible from any mobile web browser, but it does mean if you want apps native to iOS and Android, hiring a company to make your app from scratch might be the best way to go. Indeed, few companies (such as MobileRoadie and GoodBarber) offer native apps “out of the box”, and only AppMachine has the app-building software for Windows Phone native-applications.
Some of the app maker software is also available if you wish to create and sell applications as a business: AppMachine, BiznessApps and AppMakr all offer a price plan to become resellers using their software platforms.
However, for a small-to-medium sized company looking to enter the mobile market, these concerns might be secondary, and there are a number of app builders out there who will make the perfect mobile application for their needs. Here is the full list.
The Full List:
AppMachine offers a wide-ranging set of “building block” features to create either a HTML5 or native mobile app, suitable for most businesses including tourism, events, artists’ pages and audio streaming. It includes a Content Management System and will crawl through your existing website to import content, as well as a live-preview function to see what your app will look like as you build it.
Key Feature: High flexibility and live preview function
Tagline: Make an app within hours
A screenshot of the AppMachine interface
Appsbar is the free, open-source solution to making your mobile application. Apps made with it are published to AppCatch for free, but with the option of publishing in the Google Play store as a natively-coded application. Once you’ve created your app using its huge library of templates and code, a mod team will review it and aim to publish it within 10 days. It doesn’t allow you to publish paid-for apps, but has Paypal integration for e-commerce.
Key Feature: Completely free and open source
Tagline: The Easiest Way to Create an App
Appmakr‘s software allows you to choose whether to build a mobile app in HTML5, or natively for iOS and Android, with a simple drag-and-drop interface and very low costs ($1/month). Higher price plans remove AppMakr branding from your application, allow you to charge for downloading your app, and give you higher levels of support, while all plans allow unlimited users and updates.
Key Feature: No ads ever in all price plans and versions.
Tagline: Make your own mobile app!
The AppMakr interface
BiznessApps’ application builder will scan your existing websites and import content onto the app you’re creating, after which it will detect which information is missing for its templates and ask you to fill in. Stats tracking and analytics are provided post-launch, as well as integration with mailing lists and loyalty programs. The two-tier price plans allows you to choose between an HTML5 web-app or native app (with relative publishing costs).
Key Feature: Strong app analytics out of the box
Tagline: App Maker for Small Businesses
BiznessApps Multimedia App
Fliplet has a strong emphasis on apps made for small-to-medium enterprises, and comes with its own Fliplet Viewer application if you only want to publish your app internally. It includes sales and marketing features, reporting, project management and the possibility of streaming audio and video content as well as displaying charts and graphs. It also has the option of limiting which users see which content within an application.
Key Feature: 30 day free trial
Tagline: Build Apps. Share Securely. No Coding.
Fliplets user analytics
ShoutEm also offers a drag-and-drop interface to creating mobile applications, and its higher prices plans offer native apps for iOS. Android and iPad too (while the basic price plans will create a web app using HTML5). It has no additional publishing fees, and all its price plan tiers include unlimited users, upgrades and updates. It also offers the option of on-site staff training, custom modules, coding and page layouts.
Key Feature: Granular price plan and automated publishing
Tagline: Simple. Affordable. Powerful
Shoutem Presentation Video
GoodBarber offers customisation of your application according to which user, as well as 45 “connectors”, pre-made social integration tools which include all the major networks like Facebook, Instagram, Vimeo, Youtube and Twitter. All apps are native to iOS and Android, but the basic price plan caps at 5000 push notifications per month. The higher price plan add on a content management system and dedicated support
Key Feature: High levels of social media integration
Tagline: Apps. Made by you.
The GoodBarber Theme Library
MobileRoadie‘s strength is its cloud-based technology and its support of geolocation for the mobile apps built with it. It allows for targeted marketing and campaigns depending on a user’s location, and it has a strong sales element to it with the possibility of an e-store, QR scanners and mailing list integration. All apps are native, and all come with geo-targeted push notifications, though at a considerably higher cost than its competitors.
Key Feature: Geolocation and push notifications included in all apps
Tagline: Mobile App Creator for iPhone, Android, iPad and Mobile Web
MobileRoadie Tools Video
BuildFire‘s basic “click-and-edit” platform will give you a HTML5 application and is free for up to 200 web app installs and 1000 visits per month, making it ideal for internal apps in small businesses, but does not include publishing costs should you wish to publish in the App Store. It has also trademarked the SMART Push and Selective Push technologies, which ensure a 90% read rate on your content and notifications.
Key Feature: Also allows for back-end coding as well as drag-and-drop
Tagline: Easy to use. Engaging. Affordable.
Buildfire Mobile Apps Video
Como‘s solution to app building comes with the standard drag-and-drop interface but adds a suite of tools for monetization of your application. Strongly business-oriented, it comes with a wide knowledge base and dedicated support teams, a highly customisable price plan and a 30-day money back guarantee, though its yearly plans do not include publishing costs to the App Store and Google Play.
Key Feature: Business-focused with features for mobile commerce, coupons and loyalty programs
Tagline: Make an App with Our Easy App Builder
Como: Revolutionise your business
Appsbuilder is a DYI tool with a 14-day free trial that allows you to create hybrid and native mobile apps using a drag-and-drop visual interface. Its price plans scale according to how many apps you build (one, five or more) plus the publishing fees for the Apple App Store and Google Play, though you need not choose both. Your website can be ported over to a mobile application with the Appsbuilder software, and once published, apps can be updated at any time, and come with a suite of features like QR codes and promotional tools as well as analytics and stats tracking.
Key Feature: 3-minute migration from your website to an app
Tagline: Professional and easy to use app building software
Screenshot of Appsbuilder website
It is beyond doubt that expansion and profits lie in mobile apps for many businesses, start ups and enterprises around the world, but not all have the know-how to move into the mobile application world. These companies are the cream of the crop for easily creating an app without coding knowledge but maintaining creative control. They can, depending on the size of the business, either be used as a stop-gap on the way to a fully customized and developed application, or fill in precisely the niche that a company needs. Either way, they doubtless bring advantages to a business and should be considered as an essential tool in the non-coders belt.