Creating Mobile Apps With a Point and a Click

Creating mobile applications for Android and the iPhone isn’t just for code-writing geeks anymore

Break From Code

An app made using the PhoneGap development toolBrian Klutch

Even with the huge number of mobile apps already available, cellphone screens are always awaiting new ideas from innovative developers. If you have your own idea for the perfect app, whether for a wide audience or just your own use, you're in luck—you no longer need to be a deft programmer to produce it. There are now a number of app-generating tools on the Web that will enable you to bring your concept to life by clicking instead of coding. You may have even downloaded some of the resulting mobile apps already, like Inside Trader, a strategy game built with a tool called PhoneGap, or the Spinal Tap iPhone app, made at MobileRoadie.com. The best app-building option will depend on your price range, the platform you prefer (iPhone, BlackBerry or Android) and the functions you want. Some will even navigate the processing of submitting the app for you. Here's a guide to help you choose the right tool.

MAKE YOUR OWN MOBILE APPS

Mobile Roadie

Courtesy Mobile Roadie

Easy: App-Building Sites

MOBILE ROADIE (mobileroadie.com)
Cost: $500, plus $29/month
Platform: iPhone
Originally designed for bands, Mobile Roadie lets you publish news, video and music to your app, and it can connect to an online store.

SWEBAPPS (swebapps.com)
Cost: $200–$400, plus $25/month
Platform: iPhone
Make a four-, six- or eight-button app with features like "Events" and "Portfolio." When it's ready, Swebapps submits it to the App Store.

AppBreeder

Courtesy AppBreeder

Medium: App Templates

APPBREEDER (appbreeder.com)
Cost: $95, plus $0–$60/month
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone
Offering 10 templates plus a custom option,
AppBreeder lets you build, edit, and publish your app with e-mail, geo-location and video options.

MYAPPBUILDER (myappbuilder.com)
Cost: $20, plus $29/month
Platform: iPhone
MyAppBuilder enables you to publish your e-book, music, RSS, Twitter and video content using eight different templates.

Phonegap

Courtesy Dave Prochnow

Advanced: App Wrapper

PHONEGAP (phonegap.com)
Cost: Free
Platform: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone
PhoneGap allows you to repurpose existing Web-based applications, HTML, CSS and JavaScript into amazing mobile apps, and for multiple platforms at the same time. Unlike the others, it's not a drag-and-drop tool; you will have to debug your app, fix any errors, and shepherd it through the submission process yourself. But if you don't mind the extra work, it's worth it to cover all the mobile-app markets in one fell swoop—for free.