Mobile apps had a heyday in 2016. Pokémon Go, SnapChat, Color Switch, and huge numbers of e-commerce enterprises took to the app world and showed mobile users just how entertaining and convenient apps are. Why call for pizza when you can access the app and order it with a few clicks? Why call Uber when you can get the modular app and order your ride so much faster?
The trend toward app development is not slowing down, although the technology is pushing the boundaries – live streaming, chatbots, AI, AR, for example – and retailers, game developers, and social media platforms are determined to stay on top of it all.
But How Do Your Build Those Apps?
Whether for business or pleasure, hybrid and native apps are being built at record speed, and the number of building tools that teach how to create an app for free are growing just as fast. If someone with pretty minimal skills can find a free app maker, and it meets his needs, especially for cross platform use, we can only imagine how the surge of mobile apps will continue.
Choosing a Mobile App Builder: Essential Considerations
There are hundreds of app development tools out there, but some are pretty “dodgy,” putting both the developing enterprise and the user base at risk. Apps always must be built with security in mind.
And nobody thinks it’s fun to sit and wait for apps to open. Performance is critical. The app must be sleek, snappy, and provide the perfect UX on both Android and iOS.
Technologies that provide security, performance and great cross-platform experiences are evolving. With that in mind, here are five of the best free app maker tools on the market today.
The biggest draw is that anyone, with no coding skill at all, can make an app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. It’s basically a drag and drop creation tool. The builder drops the pages into place. There is a pretty comprehensive list of features, from fitness tracker, educational, church/worship, and e-commerce to social, news, live streaming, and medical practice apps. New features are added regularly.
Once the developer has used the free iPhone app maker and published it in the Apple store, he will get an HTML5 hybrid app that works on all other mobile platforms.
Pricing: There are four pricing plans, ranging from free to $50 per month, depending upon the platforms the builder wants supported, and editing capabilities. The free plans must incorporate relevant Appy ads. There are other price plans for games with the option of going live.
Pros: For beginners, with relatively simple needs, this is a great tool. An app can be designed in just a few minutes, they can be published on iTunes and Google play, revisions can be added easily, and real-time analytics are available.
Cons: Appy Pie will not be appropriate for complex app building which requires layers of architecture. There are some DIY templates, but nothing sophisticated. Some users would like to see forums brought back and did feel that the support team could be more responsive.
Offering much the same drag and drop architecture of Appy Pie, I Build App allows users to create an app for Android and iOS devices. Features for business (in-house and outreach), e-commerce, restaurants, maps, fan walls, etc. are extensive. And there are over 1,000 templates from which to choose. The tool also has an imbedded CMS and, for those who do code, options to add or change code.
This is a building tool that will serve businesses of any size, and will allow both skilled and unskilled app builders to use it. It also offers re-selling plans, for those who wish to build app solutions for others.
Pricing: There are plans for any budget, from $23.40/month to $395 for businesses that need 10+ apps. There is no free plan, although there is a 15-day money-back guarantee.
Pros: There are more options for app building architecture dependent upon the skill level of the builder; while all app building tools let builders test their apps in the software, this tool allows testing on a mobile device.
Cons: There is no free plan, as many other tools allow, usually in exchange for ad placement; further, there is no ability to build an app for Windows or Blackberry.
In reviewing the information on the website, this tool will be compatible for either novices with no coding skills, who will use the drag and drop features, and for more skilled coders or teams of coders who wish to develop a far more customized app for a larger enterprise. Developers will create hybrid apps in the cloud that will support all iOS and Android devices – this is especially important for company apps when users may have a variety of devices.
Pricing: There is no longer a free plan, and the two plans that remain are either $60/month or $135/month. There are enterprise plans, as well, which are negotiated. There is also a 15-day free trial.
Pros: One certain pro is the fact that the app platforms are cloud-based. This makes building and launching easier and faster. Apps are compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows phones. The site also provides on-site tutorials for those novices who may struggle.
Cons: Pricing is higher than average, and, especially for non-coding novices, there are cheaper/free tools. They used to have free and basic plans – no more. Another con is that there is no refund policy. Builders would be wise to take the 15-day free trial before making a commitment.
You can develop mobile apps and websites, again with a drag and drop feature, which makes construction easy for non-coding novices. Select from a large number of templates – suitable for all types of niches. You can also import content from Facebook, although it will have to be done manually. Other features include GPS, CRM, and one-touch call.
Pricing: there are two pricing plans. The $42 per month plan is designed for small businesses and nonprofit organizations. The other plan, $250/month, is established for re-sellers, and it is a white-hat plan so that app developers may build for their customers and not provide any citation to the site.
Pros: Bizness Apps has some exceptional themes suitable for restaurants, e-commerce, and non-profits. It also offers a free trial, which is important for businesses that have tight budgets. An additional pro is the ‘white hat” policy for re-sellers.
Cons: There are some limitations for e-commerce businesses, specifically that builders will have to incorporate such things as payment processes from elsewhere. Another con is that Facebook content does have to be entered manually rather than automatically which other tools do offer.
This is an easy DIY tool with drag and drop features, plenty of templates, and offers a good solution for startups and a small company with a very specific app need, such as restaurant ordering or hair salon appointment setting. There is flexibility, however, that allows skilled builders to build multiple apps using their coding skills for larger enterprises and for resellers to build apps for their clients. There is also a CMS feature that allows importing content from blogs, social platforms, and even from Shopify.
Pricing: There is a free trial, but once that is up, a builder/enterprise must subscribe to one of the plans. A basic plan, for $19.90/month, will allow an HTML5 app build; the $49.00/month plan allows HTML%, iPhone, and Android, as well as push’ For $119.90/month apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, HTML5, push and API access. There is an Enterprise plan with lots of flexibility. Skilled app builders can use all of the tools, get phone support, and an organization can indeed employ the services of the site’s own app developers for a custom app solution.
Pros: Shoutem is easy to use for novices, has lots of great features, and offers a free trial. All of these features, along with widely varied cost tiers, is attractive to builders with various needs.
Cons: Allowing only HTML5 for basic plan is a big con. There are also iPad restrictions unless the builder opts for the more expensive Unlimited tier.
So Should I Use a Free App Builder For My Project?
Novice app builders can easily find a free Android app maker. They can find what many consider to be the best iOS app builder using one or more of these cool tools. When someone has a great idea for an app, they are anxious to get it built, and the temptation to use a “canned” software tool is certainly there. The app can be built quickly and scaled later.
This, perhaps, is the value of these DIY tools – an MVP can be created and minimally tested for viability. At that point, however, it will be time to explore the use of a professional app development company to get the customization and features that will make that app unique and of the highest value to a user base.
Alty is ready for that challenge – let’s talk about your needs and how reasonably we can meet them!