At the Library we work with a lot of small business owners, whether it’s introducing them to social media and website tools, providing resources for securing grants, or just offering a space and equipment for them to work. Recently, I had a small business owner inquire how they may develop a mobile app for their business. I heard the hesitation and nervousness in their voice as they asked the question, but creating apps for smartphone and tablets isn’t just for professionals anymore. Literally anyone with almost no technical capabilities can crank out a web or mobile app with ease.
There are a lot of advantages in building a mobile app. An app will enable you to easily share your information between mobile users while on the move. If you are an entrepreneur, small business owner, or website manager, you can now enter the mobile app space with a small budget and with minimal coding or programming knowledge.
You can publish the app in two main app marketplaces: Google Play Market and iTunes App Store. If you’re hoping to distribute an Android version of your app through the Google Play Market, you will have to pay a one-time registration fee of $25. On the other hand, if you want to launch an iOS app through iTunes App Store you’re looking at a yearly fee of $99.
Here are some of the more interesting app development platforms that I’ve discovered recently:
This cloud-based app platform provides the opportunity to build real HTML5, jQuery Mobile, and hybrid apps for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Appery.io utilizes the “drag and drop” app builder so you can quickly design and build beautiful user interfaces with a visual editor. When you’re ready to make your app available to the public, you can export the app’s source code or build a binary file to submit to the Google Play Market or iTunes App Store.
Pricing: Free for the first project, Standard Plan $15/month, Pro Plan $45/month, Premium $180/month.
Appy Pie is relatively new to the app development game as this company launched in January 2013 with a tagline of “Appy Pie Makes Making an App Easy as Pie”. Appy Pie is the fastest growing cloud based DIY Mobile App Builder or App Creation Software (App Maker) that allows users to create an app for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. Appy Pie also builds HTML5 based hybrid apps that can be used on a variety of mobile phones and tablets. Appy Pie also uses a visual editor which allows you to drag and drop app elements, send push notifications to users, embed ads to generate a cash flow, and offers real-time app analytics.
Pricing: Free for the first project, Basic Plan $12/month, Gold Plan $25/month, Platinum $40/month.
The App Builder
The App Builder is similar to Appery.io and Appy Pie in the sense that it’s a drag and drop visual editor, but this platform also offers predesigned templates, pre-build widgets, and free online tutorials. You can build the app and distribute to multiple mobile platforms like Android and iOS (Windows Phone, Surface and Windows 8 platforms are still being beta tested).
There is a catch with the free account – you will have free access to develop a web app. This means that you provide your audience with a URL link for their smartphone in order to view your app. You have to upgrade to a paid account to distribute the app via Google Play Market and the iTunes App Store.
Pricing: Free for the first project, Premium $30/month, Enterprise $60/month.
So, what do you think - have you developed and launched an app? If so, which service(s) did you use? What was your experience like?