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Find a Solution Small Business Solutions

Best App Makers

Best App Makers
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.

GoodBarber offers the best value for small business. The service doesn't cost an arm and a leg, but it doesn't compromise on features, either. We also like that GoodBarber is very easy to use and lets you create beautiful, fully functional apps for all types of businesses. 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.]

MobiCart is a robust app maker that is designed to help retailers create a mobile presence and boost sales via mobile commerce. It saves you time by letting you automatically create a mobile storefront by syncing your online store, uploading a .CSV file or using the MobiCart API. From there, you can integrate a wide range of third party add-ons and mobile payment systems so customers can shop straight from your app. Other useful features include push notifications, location-based services and the ability to import your social media feeds. [Go here for a full review of the MobiCart.]

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, BuildFire and MobiCart. Our short list included AppyPie, Como, 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

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

Appsme — Appsme is another easy-to-use app maker that offers both free and paid options. The company says that if you can build a Facebook Page, you can build an Appsme mobile app. We like that it also comes with advanced features and a developer option, so you can fully customize it for your business. appsme.com

Appy Pie — One of our runner-ups, Appy Pie is a drag-and-drop app maker for iOS, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry. Appy Pie apps come with a complete set of features to stay connected with customers, such as push notifications, social media and blog integration, photo galleries, and sharing capabilities. Several business aids are also available, such as an appointment scheduler, restaurant tools, GPS tracking and one-touch calling. appypie.com

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

Como — We like Como because it 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, Como offers various distribution and promotion services to market your app. como.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 app maker for small business overall, GoodBarber 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 excellent customer service at no additional cost.  Read our full review here.

*MobiCart — Our top pick for the best app maker for retailers, MobiCart is a fast and easy way to bring your store to mobile devices. It lets you automatically create a storefront right on your app, and then takes advantage of mobile commerce and mobile-payment services so customers can shop straight from their iPhones, iPads and Android devices. 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

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 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.