When my girlfriend got me an iPod touch for my birthday in 2009 , I was fascinated with the device. Being a native of Nepal, the first thing I looked for was apps about Nepal and was disappointed to find none. I was looking for a simple application that was tailored to Nepal. Since, I had always been a technology enthusiast, I started looking at what developing an app for iPhone/iPod touch entailed( The iPad was not in the market yet). However, there was one small problem. As you can see from my background and education, I am a Chemist with no formal knowledge of Programming or mobile app development. I looked around to learn how to code but while working a demanding full time job, I could never find the time or motivation to learn. So, I started looking for options on how I could use mobile app builders to create mobile apps without programming. I get a lot of questions from people regarding how I build mobile apps without programming and how I got into this area to start with. In this post, I intend to provide a brief overview of how I started on mobile app development and go into some detail of how I have been successfully building iOS and android apps without programming for years now. Over the years, I have over hundred applications in my portfolio between iOS and Android. I have been focussing mostly on creating simple applications for underrepresented countries and educational apps in Chemistry and Biology, where I can leverage my formal education to provide some value.
The first simple solution I came across was a DIY mobile app builder called Appmakr. Appmakr(Now part of infinite monkey) is a simple drag and drop solution for apps and I could build an app in minutes with RSS feeds.( It also used to be completely free back then). SO, I went out and looked for RSS feeds for different sources for Nepal, put it all together , made an icon and splash screen and by the end of the day I had myself a functioning iPhone app running on my iPod touch. That feeling of creating something was just amazing. Even though this was very simple and had not been polished, I decided to go ahead an get an apple developer license and submit the app to the app store.
After few back and forth with the app reviewer about missing icons and copyrighted materials, etc everything was straightened out and I had successfully published my first app without programming. Boy oh boy, that was an amazing feeling and the feeling got even better when I started getting hundreds of downloads and emails from people thanking for the app. This gave me the motivation to start building more and this is how the whole process started. Enough of my history, now onto the good stuff.
Over the years, I have tried nearly every single app building tools out there that requires to little to no programming and are free or economically viable.
Tools to build apps without programming
1. Andromo for Android
Andromo is my absolute favorite mobile app builder tool when it comes to creating android apps without programming. You can use their quick and easy tool to create a gamut of apps ranging from music, photo-based, location based to HTML5 apps if you want to build something in html5 or Phonegap and bring it to Andromo. There are few things I really like about them.
- Price: They are very affordable with prices ranging from $25 per month to 119/year for unlimited publishing
- Easy UI/UX setup with pre-built menu types
- Easy Monetization with good choices of banner and interstitial ads
- They are constantly improving the product
Andromo promotes their service saying:
With Andromo, anyone can make a pro quality Android app.There's no programming required, plus Andromo generates 100% pure native code apps. Use your app to promote your business, share events and news, or launch your million dollar idea. It's quick, easy and your first app is free!
The one thing I do not like about them is that there is no option to sign the package file with your own signing certificate, which makes it impossible to replace the app with a one that you custom create or with different service in future of any reason.
Here is an example of Android app I built using Andromo.
Red Foundry started out with drag and drop template based mobile app builder like many others but has transitioned into a blocks based engine called fusion builder based on XML style markup language. According to their site
Red Foundry is a complete solution for building and managing mobile apps. Without coding, our unified platform enables everything from stunning content based mobile apps to powerful enterprise solutions, while reducing the mobile app development cycle from months to days.
Here is what I like about them:
- Price: Free for both Android and iOS; cant beat that price
- One design/setup , build for iOS and Android
- Extensive customization and design capability
It does take a little longer than a simple drag and drop services to get used to but if you are looking to build customizable high quality applications, Red foundry is definitely a premium mobile app builder. You do not have to deal with xcode or Eclipse but still have the opportunity to sign your android application with your own signing certification so if you decide to natively build it or build using other services in future you can easily update the existing application with the new improved one. iOS applications are always signed with the certificate created using the publishing account so its not an issue.
Here is an example of an app I built with Red foundry.
Buzztouch is one of the mobile app builders I have been using and keeping an eye for a long time. It has evolved very well over time and buzztouch community has grown over time as well. This powerful tool lets you create iPhone and Android apps without programming.
Here are somethings I really like about Buzztouch:
- Free to start playing around with and publish up to three apps
- You actually receive the code after the app is compiled so you can make any changes/additions
- One build for both android and iOS
- Very active developers community
- Plugin market for additional features and hopefully leads to rapid addition of features
However, if you are looking to not want to do anything in Xcode or Eclipse, this might not be your cup of tea. You will get the raw code and will have to sign and package the app for submission. The bright side is you have an opportunity learn more about native development environments plus the android app will be signed with your own signing certificate which gives you the freedom to update it any way you want in future.
Buzztouch site advertises their service as:
Build iOS and Android apps like the Pros
An open source project + an amazing community helping people make better apps
Here is an example of an application I built using Buzztouch.
Beautiful design, packed with features but little more expensive than the others
Of Course, there are a ton more mobile app builders out there. You will have to look at each one to see what fits your interest the most. Some other that I have tried and liked are:
- Game salad (perfect for simple to complex games, one build for multiple platform, iOS Free, premium for rest, supports multiple ad networks)
- Conduit app builder( great designs but pricing might not be ideal for all, limited monetization options
- Seattle Clouds( Cheap, easy, many customization options, good choice of ad networks, not the most bug free system though)
- Appsmoment( Reseller of Seattle cloud, so same features for fraction of cost, limitation is that apps ahve to be manually approved by them before publishing)
- iBuildapp( Good builder, steep pricing if you are interested in creating multiple free apps)
If there are other tools to build apps without programming, that you have found particularly useful, please share in the comments section.
By- Bikul Koirala