Android app development has grown exponentially since the Google Play store was launched in 2008 as Android Market. Today, there are estimated to be over 1.6 million apps on the Play Store, and 1.4 million apps on the iOS App Store, with a combined total download exceeding 200 billion. For more statistics, check out our Play Store vs App Store comparison. It has become increasingly easier to develop and deploy apps to both major markets, while there are also quite a few alternative mobile app market places including Amazon, Weibo and Windows Phone.
Why build an app
There are loads of reasons why an individual or company might want to build an app. For an individual, you could have an idea for app functionality and features, that nothing currently on the market caters to. Companies might want to use an app for internal tasks and communications.
Making, and releasing a mobile app is a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. And if the exhilaration isn’t enough motivation, you can monetize and make money from your app, either through ads, in app purchases or app sales.
Gone are the days when to make an app, you had to learn how to program first. Of course, as a developer myself, I would encourage budding app-preneurs to learn how to code, especially if you hope to develop a completely new app, or enter (and disrupt) an existing industry. However, not all types of apps are new, unique and/or disruptive. Many apps will be built to handle the same kinds of use cases, only with custom content. For these kinds of apps, learning to code might not be the most efficient use of your time and money.
If you intend to make an app with no programming experience, the options available to you include:
Contract a company
Depending on your budget constraints (or lack of), getting a professional app development company might be your best bet. Most app development companies can also provide apps for multiple platforms, and will usually work with the client through planning, execution and deployment of the app. Additionally, the company can also handle maintenance and upgrades if necessary.
Hire a freelancer
There are a ton of websites on which you can meet and hire a freelance app developer. A (non-exhaustive) list of freelance sites includes
Hiring a good freelancer is pretty much a matter of luck. Your mileage here may vary, and clients have reported bids on the same project varying in range from $22 to $10,000! Most freelance websites have a ratings system, and you can then judge a potential hire by his acquired ratings. However, using the ratings system is skewed towards long time users, resulting in new users bidding really low to be competitive. Some websites aim to streamline the process of finding good freelancers, by having a more involved vetting process. They usually have higher quality developers, but almost certainly cost more as a result.
Use an app building platform
When it comes down to it, a large number of mobile apps have identical features and functionality, especially apps for a business or website. For example, if you run a restaurant business, and want to build an app for users to make orders. You can make do with a well designed generic app, that has your business’s logos, colors and menu. Some great app building platforms that have caught our eye include
Andromo bills itself as a “point and click” Android app making platform. With Andromo, you can include maps, photo galleries, blog and news feeds, youtube videos, twitter and facebook feeds among others. In addition, you can choose to embed ads within your app to make money. You can try it for free, before deciding to shell out cash for the service.
AppMakr appears to be the cheapest platform so far, with pricing beginning from $1 per month. With AppMakr, you can build Android, iPhone and HTML5 apps that contain image galleries, videos, podcasts, push messaging, analytics and ads. Currently, AppMakr claims to have been used to build over 2 million apps.
AppyPie wants making apps to be as easy as pie. There are a ton of templates (or categories) to choose from, and apps can be built for Android, Blackberry, iOS, Kindle and Windows. AppyPie also includes options for analytics, monetization with ads and offers, as well as push notifications. AppyPie also has a game builder, through which you can create a HTML5 game, and build it for Android, iOS and HTML5 devices.
GameSalad claims on its front page that in an hour, a total newbie can make their first game. They also, as at July 2015, claim to have over 65,000 games published, with over 80 of them making the top 100 games in the US App Store. GameSalad supports Android, Kindle, iOS, Windows and HTML5 devices. The GameSalad game creator is available for download for both Mac and Windows systems. GameSalad supports monetization with ads, and has an active community. Definitely worth checking out, if you’re looking to build a mobile game.
GoodBarber generates native mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices, as well as an HTML web app for other devices. It can also include maps, user generated content, provides traffic, social, technical stats, integrates both it’s own internal ad network as well as third party ad networks and can also include both Flurry and/or Google analytics. In addition, for a fee, GoodBarber can publish your app to the Apple App Store for you, although you must have your developer account first. GoodBarber provides a 30 day trial period.
MobileRoadie can be used to build apps for both iOS and Android devices, and has quite a few great features. Users can integrate video, audio and photos, news and twitter feeds, events and locations in their app. An exciting feature offered by MobileRoadie is a Fan Wall, where users of the app can chat, and post photos, with each other in real time, in threaded conversations. You can also create polls within your app. MobileRoadie has a relatively short free/trial period of 14 days.
ShoutEm has many of the features expected, including integrated advertising, analytics and push notifications. In addition, you can integrate WordPress, Drupal, Facebook and Twitter into your app, as well as interactive maps. If the available templates do not meet your requirements, you can contact ShoutEm for a custom look and feel.
Much like how website design and deployment has became ubiquitous, mobile app development appears to be approaching the same fate. For apps that are not a completely new idea, there is most likely an existing template, that can be easily modified and customized. For some apps, it can be beneficial, and more economically viable, to use an app building platform. For other types of apps, especially for totally new and/or unique ideas, either a freelancer or app development company will be the smarter option. You can also find an excellent developer to partner with.
Did we miss your favorite app building platform, or do you know any other ways to make an app with no programming experience? Share your thoughts in the comments below.