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.
A word of caution however: in December 2017, Apple banned apps made from templates from the App Store, only to swiftly backtrack two weeks later when it realised the havoc the decision was wreaking on smaller businesses which don’t have the budget for a fully customised app. Apple’s rules currently read:
4.2.6 Apps created from a commercialized template or app generation service will be rejected unless they are submitted directly by the provider of the app’s content. These services should not submit apps on behalf of their clients and should offer tools that let their clients create customized, innovative apps that provide unique customer experiences.
This means you, the app owner, will have to create a publisher account and publish the app yourself, as well as paying the publishing fees ($99/year to open the account, though these were included in some of the app builders below anyway). Many app builders will guide you through this process, while some are still adapting: either way, what it does mean is that you are responsible for the content on the app, which will have your name listed as a publisher.
Besides that little change in rules (which Android has not replicated) advantages to templated apps are obvious: someone with no coding experience 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 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”.
Some of the app maker software is also available if you wish to create and sell applications as a business: AppMachine 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, and if you want more, you can always check out our app builders marketplace.
The Full List:
- Zoho Creator
Zoho Creator is a low-code app development platform that lets you launch custom, mobile-ready apps. Create your own applications to automate workflows, internal processes, and manage databases. Zoho Creator offers a first of its kind drag-n-drop interface to create tables/forms, design, schedule workflows and perform a variety of automated actions. Zoho Creator’s powerful tools for data collection and management, analysis, reporting and collaboration make it the smart choice for small to large organizations to run their business online, without any additional costs, infrastructure, or software.
Key Feature: Customized solution, drag-and-drop interface, integrate with other cloud services.
Pricing: $10/month for Basic plan.
Zoho Creator features videos
Appypie is an established player in the game-making-platform business, but the entire company is geared towards providing tools for non-coders to make applications and games. With various price plans available, it offers a lot of flexibility for those starting out, as well as ready-made templates of games and a drag-and-drop user interface. The upside of having its own app marketplace is that publishing to it is extremely easy, but there is no support to publish to the App Store or Google Play – that’s up to you.
Key Feature: Out-the-box templates, whitelabel projects available, very easy to use
Pricing: Euro 15/month for Basic plan.
Appypie features videos
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
Pricing: $79/month for the Single App Plan
BiznessApps Multimedia App
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
Pricing: Single app starts at $39/month, while the “reseller” plan begins at $99/month
A screenshot of the AppMachine interface
Appery have won a number of awards for their app development, and their platform creates applications for iOS, Android and Windows in both hybrid (using PhoneGap, Ionic and jQuery mobile) and HTML5 formats. It also features both a visual IDE and the possibility to write your own code in JS or CSS.
Key Feature: Both pre-built themes and source code editing
Pricing: 15$/month for the basic plan
Lesson 1: Introduction to the Appery.io Platform
AppsGeyser is a free web platform that allows converting any web content into an Android App in 2 easy steps. Built to help people to transfer their ideas into apps.
It is a Android-only codeless application development platform that lets users create templated mobile apps based on content pulled from webpages. The AppsGeyser tool is easy to use and bundles social sharing, tabs, messaging and full support for HTML5 enhancements.
Key Feature: Web-based platform
Product Tour for Appsgeyser
GameSalad is a free, drag and drop game creation engine for the development of iPhone, iPad, Android & HTML5 games. Using GameSalad developers can test games on Apple devices (no coding required) and publish games to the App Store. The engine is also powered by a complex behaviour library to enable creative freedom for game designers.
Key Feature: Drag and drop game development
Pricing: Starts at $17/month
Intro video to Gamesalad
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
Pricing: $10,000/year (demo available)
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 pla an automated publishing
Pricing: $19.9/month if billed annually (for the basic plan)
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
Pricing: Starts at $15/month
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
How to build an app in 2 minutes
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
Pricing: Changes depending on the app you want to build
Buildfire Mobile Apps Video
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
Pricing: Starts at $7/month for web apps, $18/month for Android and iOS
Screenshot of Appsbuilder website
iBuildApp lets you select from over 1000 different starting templates to build your app in both Android and iOS. You then fill the app with logos, content, branding and contacts before requesting the site submit the app on your behalf on the App Store and Google Play.
Key Feature: 24/5 support, easy to implement
Pricing: Pro Plan starts at $23.40/month but limits your app to 500 downloads
How to make an app in five minutes
Swiftic‘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
Pricing: $41/month if you sign up for 2 years
Swiftic intro video
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
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.
Pricing: Free for a mobile website, otherwise starts at $2/month
The AppMakr interface
Chupamobile is a bit of a different beast to the other ones listed here – this isn’t an app maker per se, but a market place where people can sell and buy app source code. It currently hosts 4000+ templates and code sources.
Key Feature: It’s a market place, not an app maker
Pricing: Depends on the code
How Chupamobile works
Siberian is an open-source CMS for building mobile applications launched in March 2014. It allows everyone, from the non tech-savvy user to the experienced developer, to create mobile applications with ease.
Key Feature: As it’s a CMS, ownership of final app is yours
Pricing: Free for a one-off app, as a platform it can cost $149/month or a $799 one-off payment
A short Siberian CMS Review
Appsmakerstore is a template-based app creator which publishes native apps on all their respective platforms, including Windows and Facebook apps. Basically all you need to do is choose the template and fill it with your own content. The templates categories range from Financial services to hotels, charities and retail, obviously including payment options and e-stores.
Key Feature: Autopublishes to all major app distribution platforms, including Appstore and Google
Pricing: Changes on template
Making a Web Radio App
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.