Most businesses have had websites for years if not decades. Designs and content changes all the time. Web Standards, Accessibility, foreign languages or multi-lingual sites. The work never stops. For last decade, mobile apps have added yet another channel by which to serve your customers.
Apple’s App Store started that movement in 2007 with the first iPhone and iOS apps are known to find a loyal following of customers. Google’s Play Store for Android apps have quickly become the leading (in numbers) platform but not for revenue generation. The fragmented Android landscape (the different versions that co-exist for customers and phone makers) makes it very difficult for developers to create stable apps that work for most if not all users and their mobile phones.
App generation, machine coded native iOS and Android apps, from a visual creator platform have existed as long as smartphones have. Capabilities vary but the power you get without ever touching a line of code is astonishing! That said, these generators are not suitable for all. A real developer is still needed for interfacing with remote systems, back-office servers or a diversity of applications that may exist in your enterprise.
That said, for 80% of the small business out there, these platforms for building mobile native iOS and Android apps serve a real purpose for an owner or general manager who’s tech-savvy enough not to require an administrator or developer and still reach his customer base.
I have recently played around with 2 apps for some local customers here in Sint Maarten that each have unique needs and goals. I was impressed with the tools offered by AppMachine to scan an existing website. It creates a set of artifacts or “portfolio” of content that you can include in the default app or edit out (or adapt to suit your needs). Social media links, YouTube channels, contact information, these things are already crawled into the App for nothing right from the start.
Add a Product block with the top 10 selling items from a store or restaurant, a default delivery fee, include a CheckOut block with PayPal integration, et voila… you have an app that lets customers order your best selling products without a need for a phone call, order form or menu and payment integration means the order is already paid before it even leaves your venue.
Next, I’ll see how some other platforms for building mobile apps compare top AppMachine. I found a great description of the best platforms for building mobile apps on Mashable.