Yes, my friends, the time has finally come… the time to sort the wheat from the chaff, the good from the bad and possibly even the ugly! What am I rambling on about? Android app makers!
The last few weeks I have been reviewing several online Android app creators. These are (mostly) online tools which help you create an app if you don’t know how to develop Android apps with the Android SDK. I wrote about the pros and cons of several app builders and in most posts I compared the one under review with other products I reviewed earlier. But a real overview article was missing so I have decided to pit them all together in order to find out which is the best of the bunch.
This review covers the seven app creator I reviewed earlier. However, there are many more app makers out there so I may add others later if the need should arise.
How am I going to compare all these different products? The answer lies in the “Grand Table of App Maker Awesomeness” which I have been secretly working on for the past few weeks. This bad boy lists all the features, benefits and drawbacks of each app builder in one big ol’ table.
The Grand Table of App Maker Awesomeness
Some say, it has been here since the beginning of time… and that it eats cute green robots for breakfast. All we know is that it’s called the Grand Table for a reason!
The contenders in this shootout are Buzztouch, App Inventor, AppMkr, Andromo, iBuildApp, Appsbar and Mobile Roadie. All those different app makers have different features and each has its unique benefits and drawbacks. However, as I reviewed more and more app builders, I began to notice some trends. The Grand Table addresses the (in my opinion) most important features and characteristics. So can decide which app maker fits your particular needs best, without having to try them all for yourself!
Now, you may disagree with the choice of characteristics I put into this table. Perhaps you feel I have left out some crucial factor that should not be left out of this comparison… If so, do let me know! I do not pretend to know it all when it comes to this particular subject or any other for that matter. I intend to update this table when the need emerges and your input is appreciated!
So, without further ado, let’s have a quick look at the characteristics I chose as the basis for this epic app comparison…
First off is some information about pricing which is of course always an important characteristic! Some features with regards to branding and publicizing the app are listed such as being able to download a .apk file and publishing it under your own name. Then we get into the options for building and customizing the app, which contribute to the “overall design flexibility” judgment near the bottom as well as “overall feature set”.
I chose not to give the app makers an overall score or pick a winner because they tend to differ in the kind of propositions they offer. Some are free and seem to be designed for hobbyists, others are very much focused on businesses. However I will go into some pros and cons of the contenders and state some of my preferences.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
None of the app makers are so difficult to use that you’d have an easier time programming the app yourself in Java. App Inventor could be considered the most complicated to use, as its blocks interface is in fact a programming language in itself. On the flip side though, AI has the most extensive featureset… is really an awesome “laboratory” for those who want to experiment with mobile app functionality! Bear in mind though that your apps won’t be visually pleasing.
With Buzztouch, the difficulty (for some) is that the user must compile the app’s source code himself. This is however also a benefit as you will be able to “hack” the code and learn from it. Generally, Buzztouch offers a nice mix of features, customizability and price. I did however miss a preview function in the online builder.
Appsbar stands out because it is easy to use, completely free and has a balanced featureset. The commerce module lets you sell products and services through your app, impressive for a free product!
Andromo and Mobile Roadie won’t let you make an app for free… this may seem stingy considering that there are free app makers but bear in mind that these are businesses (except for App Inventor which is run by MIT). Both Andromo and Mobile Roadie offer a comprehensive featureset. Mobile Roadie offers more by way of customization but you will pay a much steeper monthly fee for it.
I was less impressed with iBuildApp and especially AppMkr: both offer free, easy to use app making capabilities but don’t stand out in any other way. AppMkr has the least amount of features and the paid version is quite expensive.
So, which is the one Android app maker to rule them all? That depends on the purpose you have for your app. App Inventor is great for experimenting: hours of fun can be had if you’re in to toying around with functionality and learning to program with “blocks”. For promoting businesses, artists and brands Mobile Roadie seems to be the most professional and comprehensive choice although it’s not inexpensive.
These are just two ends of the app creator spectrum… If you are looking for something in between be sure to have another look at the Grand Table of App Maker Awesomeness and check out the free versions or trials of the app makers in there. Happy developing!