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Find a Solution Small Business Solutions

Best App Makers of 2017

Best App Makers of 2017
Credit: Bloomua / Shutterstock

When searching for the best app makers, we looked for solutions that are affordable and let you create professional-looking apps without having any coding skills. We also looked for key features such as pre-made templates, push notifications, social media integration, location-based services, loyalty programs, mobile commerce capabilities, customization options and the ability to create apps for Android devices, iPhones and iPads. Additionally, we looked for app makers that are designed for beginners and offer specific features for retailers.

Here is a roundup of our best picks and how we chose them. To help you find the right app maker for your business, check out our complete guide How to Make an App: Choosing the Right App Maker For You.

Small Business Overall
Appy Pie
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Free and paid starting at $15 per month
  • Platforms
    iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry, Amazon, HTML5
  • Support
    24/7 live chat, phone and email
Retail and Shopping
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Contact for a quote
  • Platform
    iOS and Android
  • Support
    Phone, e-mail and livechat
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Free to build; starts at $19 per month to publish
  • Platforms
    iOS, Android, HTML5
  • Support
    Live chat, email, online form
Read Review
  • Pricing
    Starts at $16 per month
  • Platforms
    iOS, Android, HTML5
  • Support
    One-to-one, online form, social media, Skype

Appy Pie offers the best value for small business. It has a clean, simple user interface so you can build a professional quality app quickly and easily — no coding skills required. Free and paid plans are available, all of which are packed with features, regardless of your budget. Appy Pie also comes with the best customer service, offering 24/7 live chat, phone and email support. [Go here for a full review of Appy Pie.]

Shopgate lets you turn your online store into an iOS or Android app and mobile website in just a few minutes. The service supports more than 60 e-commerce platforms and payment services, so it integrates seamlessly with your e-commerce website and other tools your business already uses. It also comes with dozens of professional-looking templates and design options to fully reflect your brand identity. Shopgate offers phone, email and live chat support. [Go here for a full review of Shopgate.]

GoodBarber is an easy to use app maker that lets you create beautiful, fully functional apps for all types of businesses. The service doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't compromise on features, either. Furthermore, GoodBarber gives you access to your app's source code, plugins and APIs so you can fully customize your app and cater it to your business's unique needs. Based on our experience, GoodBarber also comes with excellent and very helpful customer support. [Go here for a full review of GoodBarber.]

BuildFire lets you create professional-looking apps in minutes without the need for any tech skills. It was so easy to use that it took us less than 10 minutes to sign up for an account and build our first app. We like that it simplifies the app-making process: First, you choose and customize your app's look and feel, and then you easily add content using widgets. We also like that BuildFire lets you preview your app on your device, an added perk that isn't available with most beginner-level app makers. [Go here for a full review of BuildFire.]

To determine our best picks for app makers for small business, we started with a list of providers we were already familiar with, as well as those recommended or mentioned by small business owners, and those listed on reputable review sites and business websites.

We then narrowed down the list based on types of app makers, features offered, different use-case scenarios and a wide range of criteria (listed in detail below). To help us rank app makers and choose our best picks, we asked small business owners, business consultants and app developers what to look for in an app maker, which solutions they recommend, and what they like or don't like about app makers they currently use or have used in the past.

Additionally, we sought insight from app maker companies themselves to gain a better understanding of how different types of app makers work and how their services differ from one another.

To help further inform our decisions, we contacted different app makers' sales reps and customer service teams posing as small business owners looking to create our own app. This helped us clear up any questions we had about each app maker, while evaluating the quality of their customer service at the same time.

As part of our research, we also tried these app makers ourselves. This first-hand experience helped us get a better idea of how easy they really are to use, how features work and whether they are worth the price tag.

In total, we had a list of dozens of app makers. Our top picks are GoodBarber and BuildFire. Our short list included Bizness Apps, Swiftic, AppMachine, AppMakr, ShoutEm, EachScape, Mobile Roadie and Appery.io.

Here are the categories we considered in evaluating each app maker:

  • Cost.
  • East of use.
  • Customizability.
  • Push notifications.
  • Loyalty programs.
  • Location-based/geotargeted services.
  • Social media integration.
  • One-click contact.
  • Maps integration.
  • Ability to preview on devices.
  • App management tools.
  • Third-party app integrations.
  • Analytics and reporting.
  • Help/customer support.
  • Limitations.

Here is a summary of what each app maker claims to offer. This alphabetical list also includes our best picks.

App Factory — All about content? App Factory automatically pulls your content directly from your website so you can create an app in as little as 5 minutes. Just enter your website or feed URL, upload your logo, choose your colors, and you're set. Based on its straightforward app-building process, App Factory is a no-fuss app-making process that allows you to deliver content directly to your audience's mobile devices as the app goes live. mippin.com/appfactory

app.cat — Do you run a marketing agency? app.cat helps you build mobile apps that are specifically designed to market businesses, bands, celebrities and other clients. Unlike the majority of app makers, app.cat is distributed via text messages, social media and push notifications, which gives you more autonomy and lets you skip the hassle and wait times involved with distributing them via app stores. app.cat

AppBuilderOnline.com — Built with small businesses in mind, AppBuilderOnline.com aims to make mobile app development easy and affordable. It also does all the legwork when it comes to submitting apps to app stores and comes with full customer support, regardless of your subscription plan. appbuilderonline.com

AppInstitute — AppInstitute is a free iOS and Android app builder designed specifically for busy small business owners. It offers an easy to use drag and drop platform, so there's no need for any coding or technical skills. Just pick a template, add branding — such as images, business information and color schemes — edit content and publish to app stores. appinstitute.com

Appery.io — Appery.io is the only drag-and-drop cloud-based platform with visual development tools and integrated back-end services. The builder runs completely in the cloud, so there is nothing to install or download, which makes it easy to build and launch your app. Appery.io also comes with advanced features for developers. appery.io

AppMachine — AppMachine is a cost-effective way to build a professional, full-featured app either by yourself or with the help of designers. There are three ways to build an app using AppMachine. The fast and easy way is to scan your current website and import content into an iOS, Android and Windows Phone app. You can also start from scratch using the platform's pre-coded "building blocks," or have AppMachine's developer build an app for you. appmachine.com

AppMakr — One of our favorites, AppMakr is a free DIY app-creation platform for building robust HTML5 Web apps and native apps for iOS and Android — no coding required. With AppMakr, businesses can build as many high-quality apps as they want, with unlimited updates at no cost. Features include push notifications, HTML5 functionality, high-resolution photo galleries, live updates, and branding and design customizations. Unlike the majority of app builders, AppMakr gives you complete autonomy over your app by publishing it under your brand, not AppMakr's. appmakr.com

AppNotch — Sometimes, a website is all you need to create a mobile app. AppNotch lets businesses transform their existing website into iOS, Android and HTML5 apps simply by entering your URL and choosing a design. It also automatically syncs content, so you don't have to keep going back and forth as you make changes to your website. appnotch.com

appsbar — appsbar is a free app maker for Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry devices. In addition to building apps, appsbar also makes it easy to promote your apps at app stores, on social media and via its own app marketplace. It also comes with extra perks, such as support from appsbar's team of app developers. appsbar.com

*Appy Pie — Our top pick for the best app maker for small business overall, Appy Pie offers the most bang for your buck. It is both affordable and easy to use, and also offers a ton of features, customization options and 24/7 customer service at no additional cost.  Read our full review here.

Bizness Apps — Bizness Apps is an app creator suitable for almost any type of small business, including restaurants, bands, sports, real estate, legal services, nonprofits and even religious organizations. You can choose from hundreds of customizable templates and features, like push notifications, GPS, content sharing, social media, mobile shopping cart, mobile reservations and food ordering, custom email forms, mailing lists and more. biznessapps.com

*BuildFire — Our top pick for the best app maker for beginners, BuildFire lets you create a professional-looking mobile app in just a few minutes. It offers a user-friendly interface that simplifies the app-building process, so you don't need an ounce of coding skills to create your app. It also comes with customization options, so you're not stuck with generic apps that are common with similar app makers. Read our full review here.

Canvas — Canvas Business Apps & Forms lets you convert forms into mobile-ready digital formats, taking away the hassle and inconvenience of manual paperwork. Using Canvas, businesses build their own apps that can perform all types of time-saving tasks, such as workflow automation, estimates and purchase-order calculation, product tracking (via GPS), and confirmation or authorization via signature capturing. Canvas apps can also accept mobile payments, track inventory via bar code scanning and maintain various databases. gocanvas.com

EachScape — Another one of our favorites, EachScape is a drag-and-drop app builder that lets users craft custom, high-quality iOS, Android and HTML5 apps. Because EachScape doesn't rely on templates, its app-building platform enables users to create customizable native and HTML5 apps, with features including location-based services, push notifications, live streaming and a wide range of social network integration beyond Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. EachScape also provides a Cloud CMS service to store text, images, audio and videos that power your app, as well as advanced app management tools. eachscape.com

GameSalad — GameSalad lets anyone build a robust gaming app quickly and without any coding skills. According to GameSalad, you can build a game in hours instead of weeks and months. After downloading the free GameSalad Creator, you can start building your game using its drag-and-drop interface and library of behaviors and game elements. Using its In-App Previewer, users can test game logics and behavior sets on their desktop or mobile devices for a full, real-life gaming experience. gamesalad.com

*GoodBarber — Our top pick for the best custom app maker, GoodBarber offers an easy to use DIY app maker and access to developer tools. This includes source code, API and plugins to customize your app. GoodBarber also comes with customer support and a comprehensive library of self-help resources. Read our full review here.

Mobile Roadie — We like Mobile Roadie because it lets businesses create robust apps with advanced features, such as geotargeted push notifications for relevant and individualized messages, location maps to see where users are and to filter engagement, in-app activity points and rewards, mobile marketing tools, news updates, and a fan wall with threaded posts and chat capabilities. It also comes with advanced analytics tools that reveal important customer data, such as what users are viewing, sharing and buying on the app, as well as their app sessions and demographics. mobileroadie.com

Salesforce1 Platform — Businesses looking for custom solutions can use Salesforce1 Platform to create tailor-made apps for customers, employees, partners and other users. What makes Salesforce1 Platform stand out is that besides basic apps, it gives you flexibility and boundless customization. It does so by easily integrating your back-office tools, syncing data from systems you use, and offering API options and services. salesforce.com/platform/overview

*Shopgate — Shopgate is our top pick for the best app maker for retailers. Simply choose a template, connect your e-commerce platform and set up your payment processor and you're good to go. The company also offers phone, e-mail and live chat support, as well as webinars, product demos and a free trial. Read our full review here.

Swiftic —  Swiftic makes it easy to build professional-looking apps using a collection of themes, colors, icons, layouts, styles and backgrounds. It also offers several features to help you run your business. You can accept in-app mobile payments via MyCheck, enable customers to place in-app orders with Online Ordering, and track customer deliveries with Bringg. In addition, Swiftic offers various distribution and promotion services to market your app. (Formerly called Como, this DIY app builder has been renamed to Swiftic. Como is now the name of the company's customer loyalty and engagement solution.) swiftic.com

Taplytics — Taplytics helps businesses optimize their apps and retain customers. It is a native mobile A/B testing solution that offers the ability for entire teams — from product managers to designers and developers — to update apps without the use of code or the need for approvals, enabling businesses to focus on their core jobs in a streamlined platform. Taplytics is designed to provide instant app updates using the Web-based Visual App Editor. taplytics.com

Zengine — Keeping databases using spreadsheets or clunky software can be a pain for small businesses. Instead, Zengine's cloud-based platform lets businesses create custom apps that simplify database management. With Zengine, you can build online database apps that work for your business, minimizing human error and time wasted due to confusing interfaces and manually entering and searching for data. zenginehq.com

Zoho Creator — Zoho Creator was made with ease of use in mind, so it employs tools like automated workflows with an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to simplify the app-making process. What makes Zoho stand out is that it offers other features that make it functional not just for customers and users, but also for your business. For instance, you can add customer relationship management capabilities into your app, such as automatic alerts for sales reps and account managers when customers send an inquiry over the app. You can also integrate third-party app services, such as PayPal, to start selling products and accepting mobile payments. zoho.com/creator

Ready to choose an app maker? Here's a breakdown of our complete coverage:

Are you an app maker who would like to be added to this list and possibly considered for our next round of reviews? Please feel free to contact Sara Angeles at sangeles@purch.com.

Sara Angeles

Sara is a tech writer with a background in business and marketing. After graduating from UC Irvine, she worked as a copywriter and blogger for nonprofit organizations, tech labs and lifestyle companies. She started freelancing in 2009 and joined Business News Daily in 2013. Follow Sara Angeles on Twitter @sara_angeles.