Developing an app can be a tricky process. From understanding how it will fit into your existing business model, to learning the skills required to turn it into a reality. Fortunately, a number of low-code app development options exist to aid business owners, marketers, hobbyists and others to take the stress out of app creation.
This list highlights our picks for the top 10 low-code, consumer app development platforms of 2017. Use these to create beautiful consumer facing applications that enhance your business for free.
1. Appy Pie
This tool allows any user to Make an app, as easy as pie. A bold claim, but certainly one Appy Pie delivers on. with a built-in app editor available directly through the website anyone can log on and start building an app straight away.
A selection of standardised industry templates, plus a simple UI ensure the platform is easy to use for the technical and non-tech savvy alike, although the lack of detailed customisation options can be frustrating, as can the lack of integration options.
All in all, Appy Pie delivers a simple user experience which produces results quickly. An ideal solution for anyone who’s just getting started with mobile. If you aren’t looking to build a complex, technical app - this is for you. You won’t be able to make the next Uber here, but you will certainly be able to get something small-scale up and running in an hour or two.
Another great free online web development tool for budding app developers. Using a broad range of standardised templates, imagery, design formats and colour palettes any user can quickly create the foundations of their new app and see how it will display on a mobile instantly.
Different design elements such as images, text boxes, tables and more can easily be dragged on to any screen of your app, making the build process extremely simple for experienced users and newcomers alike. The lack of format and layout options are restrictive though, with elements only allowed to be sized and placed in areas Mobincube permits.
Once you’ve got your head around the slightly confusing sidebar menus you can actually build up a quite powerful app fairly quickly. If you can see past some of the intermittent web performance issues and somewhat dated UI then Mobincube is a great free service that will help you go mobile easily.
3. The App Institute
One of my favourite entries on this list has to be The AppInstitute. This free of charge online web development tool is a really sleek and modern of getting apps built.
The onboarding process delivers a step by step tutorial on how to use each aspect of the tool, with built in tutorials and knowledge bases on hand to help if you get stuck. Additionally, extra features such as the ability to lift a colour palette directly from a website adds vastly to the user experience.
Users can choose from either a basic or an advanced toolbar to match their skills and confidence, with the option to hire a pro available at any point if you require specialist assistance. Advanced elements such as monetisation, user interaction modules and media centre systems all give apps differentiation that is rare in free development tools. Furthermore, the analytics module gives you a reason to revisit the App Institute post-launch.
Another easy to use tool is Appmakerstore. The free 14-day online trial provides great guidance every step of the way on how to design, build and deploy any app you want. In similar fashion to other platforms on this list, you start by selecting your industry, however here you’ll be prompted to choose a relevant background image and menu style which will remain consistent across your whole app.
It’s disappointing that the trial is only 14 days here as there is plenty to see and do, with built in tutorials expertly delivered through every area of the tool. A great option for anyone looking to get started on their first app, with a little more development experience.
The Yapp platform can help you make a working app in next to no time although you will need to sacrifice a little creative control.
In your 14-day trial you get to choose a series of template pages which are bound together. Users can choose from pages including information, schedule, social, tickets, videos and more. The only catch is that the user can’t define what content is included within each of these pages. Each one has an associated set of locked fields that are standardised through the Yapp platform.
For users that are looking to create simple information apps this is actually a big help, as the standardised fields can actually be completed really quickly, plus live chat support ensures that any hiccups that do occur are quickly rectified. However, if you are looking for a specific app that delivers bespoke functionality then this may not be the tool for you.
6. Android Studio & Xcode
Going direct to the horses mouth is often be the best approach in any scenario, and working with development platforms is no different. Android Studio and Apple Xcode both offer viable development methods from a trusted source. So there is a compelling case to use these tools rather than a traditional low-code product.
For starters, the technical support channels are much more sophisticated, with access directly to Apple and Android developers. Furthermore, native development allows you to utilise a greater number of device assets. This is particularly useful when developing for wearables or other peripherals such as Apple TV.
Despite the positives, plus the ability to utilise native device capabilities within Xcode and Android Studio, there are drawbacks. Costs ramp up in a freemium pricing model and a sophisticated level of technical prowess is required. Complexity can be a problem for more experienced developers too, with many more active design elements compared to other platforms in this list. The combination of these elements can often be problematic when creating more complicated projects.
The AppMachine platform is another effective online app development tool which enables the creation of multiple apps in a simple manner. Your website content can be bulk uploaded to a built-in media centre within the AppMachine, enabling instant use of uploaded web images, videos or RSS feeds, along with embeddable access to any associated social media account from your website.
The building process is extremely simple. The entire system revolves around the idea of using Lego bricks for developing each aspect of your app, with each brick representing a different page or specific function. Users can then drill-down into each brick and edit specific settings, designs, navigation options and displayed information. Once a brick is complete is can be placed within the app where required.
Integration with systems like Google Maps gives this platform their differential along with their app preview feature, which allows you to see the result of any changes you make, live on your phone, prior to publishing. The autonomy and control this gives you is fantastic, although the web app preview does suffer from the occasional performance problem.
Finally, Appmakr is another solid entry which allows users to make apps with ease. Video tutorials help develop a nice understanding of how the tool works early on and standardised industry templates give users a good starting point.
Furthermore, the flexible image and icon library allows for customisation of imagery throughout your app. Common functions are easy to embed at any point and layout options can be amended easily.
Design can be a little tricky due to the lack of an undo button, however the app preview gives users a great indication of layouts and built in launch support options. In order to maximise your chances of success, Appmakr guides you through app icons, domains, tags, categories, ad support and more, giving you the maximum chance of user adoption.
Bonus: CommonTime Infinity
CommonTime specialise in developing enterprise mobile apps for a whole range of different business processes, from clinical messaging tools used across the NHS to health and safety audit apps for global construction firms like Carillion.
Through our low-code app development platform, CommonTime Infinity, we provide secure two-way integration into multiple back-end systems and provide users with a simple drag and drop app development interface to make the build process as easy as possible.
Whether you are looking to create integrated, enterprise apps in-house or looking for an app development partner, CommonTime can help deliver your mobile working strategy.