The majority of businesses who want to expand online should be looking into the mobile phone and app market: this year smartphones have become the most used platform to access the internet, and with increasing connectivity and market penetration, an app can mean the difference between “business as usual” and expansion.
Whether you’re looking to build a B2C app for your business, an enterprise solution or even a personal showcase for your content, there are plenty of tools out there for all levels of experience. Previously we’ve covered the Top UK App Developers and Top US App Developers, but this research is for those taking matters into their own hands and looking into finding app development software to use themselves.
The software packages here are aimed at all levels of experience. Many offer a drag-and-drop interface and pre-made templates for those creating their first app, while others give you access to the code behind the scenes, with some even being open-source, allowing more experienced users full customisation. A few of the platforms here even allow for white-label app reselling.
After extensive research we found so many quality products, catering to such a wide range of skills and requirements, that we decided to list them all. The first two are, of course, the “natives”: Apple’s XCode and Android Studio. They can’t go unmentioned and are very well known, but beyond those two giants there’s a large market worth exploring. What follows are the best app development software packages, with a brief description of each platform, the pros, the cons and an example of apps built with them.
In no particular order, here they are:
- Android Studio
The original integrated app development environment, Xcode is Apple’s proprietary software platform and uses the Swift language to create apps for iOS, iPad, Mac and Apple Watch. It has both a visual GUI and access to code, as well as powerful tools for debugging, sprite creation, testing and game creation.
Pros: “The original”, free trial, native apps
Cons: iOS-only apps, $99 developer fee to publish
Appindex Directory Page: XCode
Made with Xcode: SkyGuide, Getty Images
Building your first Swift app
Source: Swift Language on youtube.com
Android Studio is the IDE produced by Google specifically for Android. It’s free, and it comes with a large variety of additional SDKs (including an SDK manager) and a visual interface on top of the coding environment. You can also use it on MAC OSX and Linux. It is the original platform for developing native Android apps.
Pros: Free, native Android, open source
Cons: Steep learning curve, Android-only apps
Appindex Directory Page: Android Studio
Made with Android Studio: Pocket Casts, Trello
Introduction to Android Studio
ShoutEm has a particular focus in making mobile apps which incentivise loyal customers to your business. The backend content management system, fully integrated with WordPress, Foursquare, RSS and Facebook is extremely clean and polished, and the platform offers a number of monetisation solutions and analytics.
Pros: Built with eCommerce in mind, free trial
Cons: Base pricing level only includes HTML5 apps
Appindex Directory Page: ShoutEm
Made with ShoutEm: ThisIs50, 716 Food&Sport
Multi-card loyalty with ShoutEm
Build, test and monitor apps for iOS, Android, Windows and Mac with Xamarin, which uses the same API and C# codebase for all the platforms you develop on. Testing happens on the cloud, so you can look out for bugs before publishing, and its monitoring tool allows for real-time crash exceptions and tracking.
Pros: Powerful, covers all aspects, test before you publish, start-up discounts
Cons: Requires experience in coding, no free version
Appindex Directory Page: Xamarin
Made with Xamarin: Cinemark, JetBlue, MRW
Xamarin Evolve 2014
Pros: Publishes natively to all platforms, post-launch analytics
Appindex Directory Page: Appcelerator
Made with Appcelerator: Scoutmob, Citibank Snowciety
Introduction to Appcelerator Titanium
Pros: Compatible with any back-end, free trial available
Cons: Non-native apps
Appindex Directory Page: Sencha
Made with Sencha: GetGlue, TravelMate
Sencha Touch: Introduction
Kinvey focuses on developing enterprise architecture for enterprises, and creates both native and hybrid apps for all existing platforms, including phonegap and HTML5. Their software is capable of offering a number of solutions such as push notifications, location services, encryption and network management along with many more.
Pros: Wide variety of solutions
Cons: Not for the indie developer
Appindex Directory Page: Kinvey
Made with Kinvey: Schneider Electric
Kinvey Culture Showcase
Pros: Visual IDE means less experience of coding required, Free trial
Cons: Non-native apps
Appindex Directory Page: Globo
Key Clients: Bank of America, Peugeot
GO!AppZone Studio Built Apps
Magplus is a very specific app development tool, aimed at designing applications for the publishing world. Brochures, business reports, presentation and other formats are all included in its templates, and the system features analytics, HTML support and InDesign plug-ins starting from CS4.
Pros: Extremely specialised, cross-platform
Cons: Limited niche
Appindex Directory Page: Magplus
Made with Magplus: NA
“The Unlimited” iPhone and iPad Magazine
Appstudio, like magplus, is also dedicated to publishing-style mobile apps. Its features include scroll zones, animations, searchable text and more. Great for anything from photography albums to ebooks and financial reports, it also features plugins for integration with QuarkXpress and InDesign.
Pros: Quark and InDesign supported, large resource base, cross-platform
Cons: Limited scope
Appindex Directory Page: Appstudio
Made with Appstudio: NA
Discover App Studio
Como offers a number of features in its software like coupons, push notifications and most notable of all a well polished online store. The platform’s analytics, social media integration and app promotion tools are all pre-coded, all you need is to add your content.
Pros: No coding required, vast variety of templates and features
Cons: Little flexibility beyond templates for those experienced in coding
Appindex Directory Page: Como
Made with Como: Remix Coffee Co., The Gentlemen Barber
Como: Revolutionize Your Biz the Quick & Easy Way
MobileRoadie is both an app creation and marketing solution for mobile apps which, with its cloud platform, allows for live updates as well as geo-targeted marketing campaigns, push notifications, analytics, all built with a visual interface. Disney, the Dallas Mavericks and other large companies are powered by Mobile Roadie pro.
Pros: iPhone and Android, on-the-fly updates, 14 day free trial
Appindex Directory Page: MobileRoadie
Made with Mobile Roadie: CalState LA, San Diego 200
Mobile Roadie: Mobile Tools for a Fast Paced World
GoodBarber allows you to create apps for both mobile and tablet in HTML5 through a four-step process: design, content, testing and publishing (to iOs or Android). Pick a theme and upload your content, its as easy as that with GoodBarber’s 45 connectors and 20 pre-made sections.
Pros: Extremely easy to use, relatively low cost
Cons: Limited flexibility with templates, native apps only available in pro version
Appindex Directory Page: GoodBarber
Made with GoodBarber:
Welcome to GoodBarber
Cons: No Windows or Blackberry support
Appindex Directory Page: Meteor
Made with Meteor: Thoughtly, CodeFights, 19 Degrees
An Introduction to Meteor
Fliplet is a business-focussed app creator, with a visual design interface and publishing support included. Templates cover a variety of industries and functions such as sales, events, training, project management, internal communications and health & safety, among others.
Pros: Free trial available, customised pricing
Cons: Basic plan only allows for one published app.
Appindex Directory Page: Fliplet
Made with Fliplet: Sky marketing team, Marriott Hotel restaurant marketing
How to Build Your First App with Fliplet
Appsbar is a free mobile app builder with over 30 templates and 125,000 users. The templates include the A to Z of apps, from accounting to education, from fitness apps to shopping. Their website also offers video tutorials and tech support.
Pros: Completely free
Cons: Non-native iOS apps are made with HTML5
Appindex Directory Page: Appsbar
Made with Appsbar:
Free Online Mobile App Builder
BiznessApps requires no coding knowledge whatsoever to create its business-oriented mobile applications. It has a visual interface, the option to become a white-label reseller and all of its price plans offer 24/ support, with the higher end creating native apps for both iOS and Android.
Pros: 30 day moneyback guarantee
Cons: No access to background code
Appindex Directory Page: BiznessApps
Made with Bizness Apps: Pizzicato San Diego, Luxury Property Singapore
Mobile Apps For Businesses Made Easy
AppMakr features a drag-and-drop interface, live updating and analytics, as well as guaranteeing completely ad-free apps at all price levels. Its premade functions, which include mCommerce, newsfeeds and social media integration, are all highly customisable in appearance and layout.
Pros: First pricing level is free
Cons: iOS native apps only on upper pricing levels
Appindex Directory Page: Appmakr
Made with AppMakr: Dolce Italia, Trinidad Carnival Diary NA
Dolce Italia App review
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.
Pros: Both pre-built themes and source code editing, free trial
Cons: Apps are non-native
Appindex Directory Page: Appery
Made with Appery: USA Today News, Best Buy
Lesson 1: Introduction to the Appery.io Platform
Appmachine offers a handy crawler tool which rounds up all content from your blog, Youtube, Twitter, RSS and Facebook feeds to add them immediately to your app. The visual IDE has 30+ “building blocks”, all easily customisable, and both an analytics platform and live updates post-publishing.
Pros: Native and cross-platform apps
Cons: Publishing fees not included
Appindex Directory Page: AppMachine
Made with AppMachine: Markus Schulz App
Appmachine introductory video
Appsbuilder is an HTML5 and cross-platform app solution which requires no coding to build apps. It has a huge number of connectors to collect your content from social media, and integrates with 30+ shopping cart platforms. It also features one-click publishing, app campaigns and three different pricing plans.
Pros: Extremely strong support of shopping cart platforms, free trial available
Cons: Only one app publishable on lowest pricing level
Appindex Directory Page: AppsBuilder
Made with AppsBuilder: Preppers Italia, Tech Crunch Italy
Appsbuilder introductory video
BuildFire lets you publish apps for both iOS and Android, and has been featured by the likes of the Huffington Post and the CNN. Requiring no coding, it has a full suite of features including push notifications, marketing resources, automatic content syncing and password protection.
Pros: Free app store submission, accessible source code
Cons: Relatively high price, monthly payments only
Appindex Directory Page: BuildFire
Made with BuildFire: McLaren F1 Owners Club, MedOrders
Buildfire Mobile Apps Video
AppyPie is free, making money by having ads in apps produced with it. It has a number of templates which cover all types of apps and functionalities such as geolocation, social media integration, bookings and shopping carts. Appypie also has a “sister” game-maker platform.
Pros: Free, very simple and streamlined
Cons: Pay money to remove ads, HTML5 only
Appindex Directory Page: AppyPie
Made with Appypie: NA
Appypie Makes a Game
There you have it, all the best tools out there for the creation of your own app. Whether its for absolute beginners or experienced coders, and covering all budgets, we hope we’ve found the right one for you.