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Making an app with no programming experience: What are your options?
Learning how to make Android apps is a fantastic idea whether you are a business looking to reach a broader audience, an entrepreneur hoping to make some passive income (or a lot!), or simply a hobbyist looking to learn a fantastic new skill.
The problem is that app development typically involves coding. And coding is hard!
Fortunately, there are plenty of options available for those who want to know how to make Android apps without learning Java or Kotlin. So if you think you might have the “next big app idea” but don’t know how to turn that idea into a reality, keep reading!
How to make Android apps without code
This article will explore the major options available to you for making apps without code. They are:
- Using an app builder
- Using a game maker
- Building a website
- Using PhoneGap
- Outsourcing (getting someone else to do the hardwork!)
Each of these options has its strengths and weaknesses. And of course, the potential is always going to be a little limited compared with building an app yourself from scratch! With that said, you should find that one of these options offers the solution you need.
Most app builders have a drag and drop interface, meaning that you can simply find the elements you like and arrange them into an interface. You’ll then be able to build an APK (the install file for an Android app), and in many cases choose to make an iOS app as well.
App builders not only speed up the development process and remove the need for complex code, but also offer a cross-platform solution for developing apps on multiple operating systems.
The issue is that app builders are limited in what they can be used for. That’s because most of these apps will use HTML5 to show the UI elements, with some native features supported through background code.
So while many app builders will support things like sending text messages or even using push notifications, you won’t be able to implement custom animations or combine features in unique ways.
In short: if you just want an interface for displaying information and perhaps handling orders and queries, an app builder can work great. But if you have a new “idea” for an app that combines native features in a unique way, keep looking.
Keep in mind as well that these builders will generally charge a fee or offer a limited license for free use. Make sure to read the small print before committing to one option or another.
Top Android app builders
If this still sounds like a good option for you, check out the most highly recommended builders below:
- AppYourself is an app builder for HTML5-based apps. It is cross platform and relies primarily on HTML5. Building apps is easy, and there are some great business-centric features such as Open Table synchronization. The tool can also be used to create websites, providing some great synergy.
- AppInstitute is once again a business-centric app builder for iOS and Android. It has a user-friendly interface and lots of useful features such as social media integration, analytics, and the ability to handle purchases.
- Appy Pie is an app maker that offers simple templates to expedite app creation. Templates are designed to cater to real estate agents, radio stations, churches, and, er… catering.
- Mobile Roadie is an app builder that boasts some huge clients, including Disney and TED. As you would expect, it is one of the more powerful tools, capable of producing some highly professional-looking apps. With that prestige comes a very expensive price tag, however!
- Appyet is the powerful and effective app builder we used to build the Android Authority app on Android. You can monetize the apps with AdMob and the basic features are available for free!
You should also read our dedicated guide to the best app builders.
Using a game maker
A game maker is a tool that – surprise surprise – is primarily for creating games.
These vary hugely in terms of their complexity and what they are capable of. At the simpler end of the spectrum are game builders aimed at kids to try and cultivate an interest in coding. If you want to teach a child how to make apps without programming, one of the best game makers is the straightforward GameSalad.
At the slightly more complex end are tools like GameMaker: Studio. This is a simple game builder with minimal code that nevertheless provides enough flexibility to create complete game experiences. Games such as Hype Light Drifter were built using this tool, though that will have involved a fair amount of code!
If you want to get more complex still, Unity is a fully-featured game engine and IDE for professional developers. While Unity development does require a little bit of coding, it is actually very minimal. What’s more, the flexibility of Unity means that it can be used to develop utility apps and other non-game solutions. In fact, I even wrote an article about it!
Building a website
If you know how to create a website but don’t know how to make an Android app, you can leverage those skills to pleasing results. Indeed, many of the Android app builders are “wrappers” that use website code to build apps! You can do the precise same thing yourself if you’re willing to write just a few lines of code.
Next, download Android Studio. This will provide you with both the development environment you need to start coding and the Android SDK that willturn your code into an Android app. It’s all in a single package and everything you need will install at once.
Now all you need to do is create a full-screen “WebView” that will display your website. A WebView is effectively a widget that can be used to display HTML or a website. This is extremely straightforward and can be done without any code.
Go to the visual editor by using the tabs along the bottom, and then simply drag and drop the WebView onto the screen. Resize it to fill the screen. Then, with that view selected, you’ll have the option to change the URL that gets displayed.
Now package and run the app. When it boots up, you’ll be greeted with a full-screen rendering of your website. As long as the site is mobile-friendly and the user has an internet connection, you’ve got yourself a working app!
With just a little more tinkering, you can even include the HTML and graphical assets natively in the package – no internet connection required!
PhoneGap is powered by Apache Cordova. This same tool is actually what powers a lot of app builders. If you familiarize yourself with this, you’ll know how to make Android apps without needing to rely on third-party solutions.
How to make Android apps by outsourcing
If you don’t want to learn how to make Android apps at all and don’t have an in-house development team, hiring an outsider may be the best option.
Hiring a developer means you can create anything that you would be able to by building the app yourself. However, it does also mean you won’t be solely in the driving seat. How well this turns out for you will depend largely on the quality of the developer you end up working with.
My advice is to see samples of the developer’s work before hiring them. Ideally, choose someone based locally to make collaboration less difficult. Spend some time prototyping your app layout, and collect examples of apps you like the look of. This will all help you to communicate your ideas clearly with the developer.
Ultimately, it is important that you relax just a little bit of your control when using an app developer, however. After all, this is their job – so they tend to know what they’re talking about!
Now you know how to make Android apps with zero code, all that is left is to choose the option that best suits you. There are trade-offs whichever way you go, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create something spectacular.
And if none of these options suit you? Then why not learn how to make Android apps the official way? You could start with one of our easy tutorials, like this Star Wars quiz.
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