In a world where there’s always “an app for that,” more small businesses see the value in creating their own mobile apps. The technical know-how necessary to develop an impressive app and the cost of hiring a professional developer, however, have discouraged the production of many would-be branded applications.
Affordable do-it-yourself alternatives give all companies — even those with minimal tech expertise — a way to create their own apps.
Even the code-illiterate can build passable apps using these four new platforms.
1. Bizness Apps
Bizness Apps focuses on industry-specific features. If you’re building an app for a restaurant, for instance, its builder might suggest that you add a menu and a specials feature. If you’re building an app for a gym, it might recommend a weekly workout planner.
It’s a difficult platform on which to customize beyond color choices, but it’s a tool that’s incredibly easy to use.
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android, HTML5
Price: $39 per month for the iPhone app plus $10 per month for an iPad, Android or HTML5 app.
MobiFlex, while not the prettiest of the app creators, will integrate with back-end data sources and incorporates functions like the phone’s camera, speech recognition and GPS into its native apps.
There’s a better chance of creating and releasing a useful app with these features, but users also have a steeper learning curve than some of its competitors.
Platforms: Android and iOS
Price: A one-time setup fee of $99 plus a monthly fee of $25 for up to 50 users and two pages.
Other than adding content through multiple RSS feeds, uploading a photo gallery and sending push notifications, its code-free apps can’t do much. One appealing aspect for content creators, however, is the option to serve ads through several networks.
4. Red Foundry
Red Foundry offers options for the intermediate coder and newbie app builder alike. More advanced users can choose to design their apps with an xml-based coding system instead of using the startup’s template.
RSS feeds are the focus of the free version of the product’s point-and-click app builder, though it’s easy to add other extras like photo galleries, maps, social feed and commerce options like a Paypal donate button.
What’s most obviously distinct about the platform is its test-as-you go app,Viz. After you load the program onto your phone, you can use it to test your app as you build it.
The platform also makes widgets that show analytics, social activity and push notifications from your app that you can add to your desktop.
Platforms: iOS products
Price: Basic apps are free; more advanced options start at $39 per month.