The app marketplace has grown tremendously over the past couple of years. It is no surprise therefore that user-friendly and low-cost alternatives to development and design of mobile apps have been made available. Because of the availability of these platforms, a normal non-techie person can now build his or her own apps through drag-and-drop environments, customizable templates, and HTML. Here are some of the more tools for easy app building.
The good thing about PhoneGap is that its web-based foundation does not limit its features. PhoneGap apps may still have features such as push notifications, contacts, camera, and geo-location.
Big and small companies alike are able to use PhoneGap. Wikipedia, for example, used PhoneGap for its official mobile app on iOS, Android, and Playbook. Smaller companies, meanwhile, are able to utilize PhoneGap through development companies catering to multiple clients. An example of these development companies would be AndPlusLCC which develops apps for large corporations and small business alike.
It is free to use PhoneGap to develop apps while in beta, while support plans start at $249.99 per year.
2. Branded Business Apps
Branded Business Apps offers a 5-step development process for mobile apps. Their streamlined process allows for the launch of iPhone, iPad, and Android mobile apps within 48 hours. Branded Business Apps caters to the service industry, primarily hotels, health clubs, restaurants, and even churches.
Branded Business Apps allows its clients to make use of a limited amount of features. Although this set includes only 40 features, it is supposedly sufficient to cover mobile app requirements of small to medium-sized enterprises, which is the primary market of Branded Business Apps.
The design process of Branded Business Apps is simple and is the core of its efficient development process. It starts with a design questionnaire. On this questionnaire, a limited number of screens, the content on each screen, and copy will be stated. The items on the questionnaire are plugged into a template, which makes creating the app easier and faster, reducing the time and cost often required by a normal app development shop.
After the app has been launched, the client may manage the content through a content management system. This content management system is tailored to business in service industries.
For Branded Business Apps, development fees begin at $399. Meanwhile, their monthly management fees begin at $39 per month.
EachScape is a platform that offers a building-block approach, unique to what other app building platforms offer. This block-building approach offers the advantage of allowing its users to build their app without having to use a generic template.
Through its drag and drop interface, EachScape is able to expand the functional and aesthetic capabilities of easy-to-use app development. For instance, users may select from an extensive list of “blocks” – from the basic ones to ones with a more complex function. Generic blocks would include horizontal and vertical panels where media can be placed, while complex blocks would include HTML, chat functions, or inclusion of Google mobile advertisements. Apart from these, EachScape has a block marketplace from where developers can purchase blocks beyond those that are generically offered.
EachScape then generates mobile apps in Java for Android phones and Objective C for iPhones, allowing them to maintain the native capabilities of the Android and iOS operating systems.
EachScape license fees begin at $2,500 per month.
Canvas is an app development platform that specializes on creating data collection mobile applications for small business.
Small businesses normally resort to pen and paper for everyday data collection on their customers. A lucky few would have computer or laptop terminals for collecting data. With Canvas, small business owners can now create their own mobile apps to make data collection easier, faster, and more efficient.
The apps developed through Canvas allow businesses to request and record data. These data can be stored and distributed via the Canvas cloud. These data are then converted into a PDF that clients may search or sort. Clients may even incorporate these data into their back-end.
While of a slightly different strand than other services — these apps supplement existing business practices, rather than launch businesses themselves — even this low level of customization allows for the creation of branded apps at almost no cost.
Unlike other app development services, the aim of Canvas is not to assist in launching business, but rather, assist existing business process and make them more efficient. As such, Canvas apps may also be used by businesses to keep and track other data aside from those of their customers. Examples of these would be shipment data and employee data, among others.
Canvas charges 50 cents every time the app is used, $20 per month for unlimited monthly use, or $210 per year for unlimited annual use.
The Future of App Building Platforms
Gone are the days when development of apps are restricted to a select few who have the technical skills required in programming. Indeed, creating your own app has been made more accessible thanks to platforms such as PhoneGap, Branded Business Apps, EachScape, and Canvas. These platforms are just four of the many app development platforms that you may use to create your own apps. As these tools have their own advantages and disadvantages, it is important for users to know clearly their requirements and select the platform that fits these requirements best. Users may also take note of the future prospects of their app, and make sure to select the platform that can best adapt to these future adjustments that may have to be done.