Our Top 3 Absolutely Free App Builders

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So you’ve decided that your business or event could benefit from having an app…

Good choice! Now it’s time to make one!

Our list today consists of the TOP 3 FREE app builders. This means that you’ll be sacrificing some features, which we will lay out for each provider, but in general, any small business app should be able to function perfectly well with these ready-to-go platforms.

Most of the “free app builder” reviews we read during the research for this article were not truly accurate. We wanted to know exactly what you get for zero dollars, but the reviews always led to a point where you need to pay (sure, $7/mth is negligible, but still doesn’t mean free).

Our goal here is to tell you everything you need to know based solely on paying nothing.

Keep in mind that of course if you want something 100% customizable and perfect and hosted in the big app stores, you’re going to need to either pay a programmer/developer, or fork out for a premium app builder (which isn’t actually that expensive). That’s not what this article is about.

Is a free app even useful?

If you’re an event organizer, using a free app builder is the perfect accompaniment to your guest engagement, and doesn’t cost you a dime. Help guests navigate through your booth layout with an interactive map in your app. Perhaps there’s advertising revenue for vendors to showcase items on your app. The possibilities are seemingly endless.

Real estate and restaurants are other fantastic industries for this application. List your homes for sale and their prices, along with photos. Enable users to contact you directly through the app. Restaurants can list their menus, photos, and specials, and enable users to make a reservation through your app!

You also don’t necessarily need your app to be listed on the Apple or Google app stores, as you can simply upload the .ipa and/or .apk files to your website and have users download from there, as we’ve done on our site:

dalyadminappdownload

This way you can avoid the fees:

For Android apps, developer fees can range from free up to matching the Apple App Store fee of $99/year. Google Play has a one-time fee of $25. App store fees are more important when you are starting out or if you have lower sales. As you sell more apps, the store fees become much less of an issue.

Tech Republic

As you can see, iTunes is relatively expensive, whereas Google Play is very reasonable. If you want to reach a wider audience, you will want to be more easily accessible and searchable, so that’s the time to invest in the big guys.

I think you’ve got it. So here we go.

#3 | PapTap

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PapTap is very aesthetically pleasing, however its functionality is rather limited.

How It Works:

Once you’ve created your account and selected a template style from their menu, PapTap gives you the opportunity to import your data from Facebook.

You can then edit each page of your app individually, adding photos and slideshows, videos, audio, and text.

paptapeditscreens

When you are through with your edits, PapTap will complete a review. Once your app is approved, users will be able to download it from the PapTap market. The review process takes up to two business days.

paptapdownload

The downside to this is that anyone you want to download your app will need to also install the PapTap Market app. I have not found a way to download an individual .ipa or .apk file.

THE BASICS

What you get:

  • a practically ready-to-go app within minutes (aside from review time)
  • Facebook import integration for your basic info and photos
  • live on-screen preview of what your app looks like
  • ability to customize app icons
  • ability to add videos
  • ability to add coupons (but no ‘rewards’ programs)
  • some basic analytics (ie. number of visits per app screen)
  • five free Push Notifications
  • live unlimited updates

What you sacrifice:

  • social media integration (you can only provide a link to your pages, not an actual live feed)
  • ability to add live chat with your customers (available with paid subscription)
  • ability to add a calendar (available with paid subscription)
  • ability to publish on iTunes or Google Play (available with paid subscription)
  • ability to download .ipa or .apk files for your own website

So all in all, not a bad program, but it loses points for not offering the bare .ipa or .apk files for self-publishing.

#2 | AppMakr

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We know what you’re thinking. Right off the bat, the user interface isn’t exactly visually appealing, along with the fact that your only sign up options are through Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo, so you are required to have one of those accounts.

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This program is also different because, with their free subscription, you don’t actually end up with an app file that can be installed directly into a user’s phone. Instead, you get a mobile-friendly site. In other words, you build your app exactly the way you want, but it is then published as a web link.

The ease of access with a mobile web app is actually quite motivating in itself – think about it, instead of providing all of your contact info for your website and social media channels in footers and marketing materials, you give them one URL. This URL can be accessed from any mobile-enabled device and provides the majority of your online content in one place.

How It Works:

When you’re ready to create your app, a basic info screen launches, as does an auto-playing instructional video. Some of you will love this, some won’t – normally auto-playing videos are a nuisance, but AppMakr manages it in the best possible way: the video is small, unobtrusive, and embedded in the page, and you can immediately stop/pause playback by simply clicking on the video.

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Once you’ve entered your basic info (you can even skip the bottom portion for now and just enter your app title – our name and e-mail was auto-populated from our Google+ login), you move on to the fun part.

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Add modules, customize icons and backgrounds, and arrange layouts.
AppMakr has an impressive list of modules, including Facebook/Twitter/Instagram integration, Yelp and OpenTable for restaurants, calendars and ticket sales for events, SoundCloud and podcasts for the audiophile, and so much more.

When you’ve added and customized all of your modules, you move on to the data portion of the setup.

This includes setup of your mobile web address for your app. We selected ‘theapp.mobi’, however there are custom URLs depending on your industry (ie. Real Estate; ‘ourhome.at’ or ‘nyproperty.mobi’).

appmakrstep2

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You can apparently even monetize your app with ads. We haven’t tested this, as we don’t have an ad account anywhere, however it would appear this would function in the free subscription.

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Once you’ve entered all data in Step 2, you’re ready to publish.

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THE BASICS

What you get:

  • custom URL and QR code for your web app
  • a ready-to-go mobile web app within minutes
  • live on-screen preview of what your app looks like
  • ability to customize app icons and layout
  • large variety of app features/modules
  • live analytics
  • unlimited live updates
  • no ads

What you sacrifice:

  • an installable native smartphone app
  • push notification capability
  • attractive, pre-made templates
  • ability to publish on iTunes or Google Play

Screenshot_2015-11-02-12-51-38Screenshot_2015-11-02-12-55-52In order to have and maintain a presence on your customer’s smartphone, you’ll want to encourage them to bookmark your web app to their phone’s home screen. It will still launch through your browser of choice, but provides easy access and a constant reminder when placed near often-used home screen apps.

So, while not having a native app has its drawbacks, you are getting the service entirely free, and it’s still very functional. It definitely isn’t as aesthetically pleasing as PapTap, but it offers far more modules to add and is more customizable.

Which brings us to number one…

#1 | AppyPie

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AppyPie claims to be rated as the “best free DIY App Building Software”, though we have been unable to locate the basis for that claim. Regardless, we’ve agreed, and rated it our best free app builder, as it truly is easy to use and offers many of the features any small business or event would need, with really only one differentiating drawback.

How It Works:

Once you’ve created your account, you select a template style from their menu. You can also select a live preview style from the right-hand menu, which enables previews for Apple, Android, Amazon, and Windows phones and tablets.

appypiecreate

AppyPie then gives you the opportunity to edit the design and add an impressive number of features, including in-app social media integration and e-commerce.

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appypiefeatures

Once you’ve finished editing (and make sure you’re truly finished, you cannot edit the app once it’s published under the Free level subscription), you select your publishing format.

appypiepricing

Once the ‘Free’ subscription is selected, AppyPie provides you with a link to your dashboard, where you can download your app files in .apk and .ipa formats.

AppyPie also enables you to download via one of three ways:

appypiedownload

THE BASICS

What you get:

  • ability to create your own template
  • a ready-to-go app within minutes
  • live on-screen preview of what your app looks like on different device platforms
  • ability to customize app icons
  • large variety of app features
  • .apk and .ipa files to host on your own website
  • fantastic customer service (we had an issue with the Facebook module and received e-mail support immediately – even on the free plan!)

What you sacrifice:

  • an ad-free app (though they’re really not that intrusive)
  • push notification capability
  • editing capabilities after publishing
  • analytics
  • ability to create for Windows or Blackberry (without paid subscription)
  • ability to publish on iTunes or Google Play through AppyPie (you can still create your own developer accounts on either of the stores and submit the app file yourself)

AppyPie is truly the superior choice as far as 100% free app builders go, and only really loses points for the inability to edit the app after publishing.

So there you have it! Thanks so much for reading.

Share your experiences with free app builders in the comments!

DalySocial

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2 thoughts on “Our Top 3 Absolutely Free App Builders

  1. Pingback: Going Mobile | The Daly Dish

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