Creating a simple mobile App for my small business using AppMakr

I’d wanted to make a simple mobile App for my business for ages but was held back by the fact that it seemed expensive to have one made for me, and difficult to do it myself as I am not a developer. However, I came across AppMakr on the web and decided to have a go at creating an App myself. AppMakr is currently free to use to create Apps: you simply have to pay Apple $99 for a Developer’s license and Google Market $25 for a Google Market account. Your App is hosted directly on the Android Market or in the App Store and you do not have to pay a hosting fee which appears to be the case with (for example) Swebapps. Another free solution, which I haven’t tried yet but am going to experiment with, is Google’s App Inventor, which seems a bit more flexible than AppMakr in terms of what you can create.

Using AppMakr to Create an iPhone App
Creating an App is relatively straightforward using AppMakr. I began with an iPhone App. You will need to know the RSS URLs’ of your blog, Facebook Page or account, Twitter page or Youtube Channel and so on as AppMakr mainly uses RSS feeds to create your mobile App. You can usually find these feeds by logging into your accounts, although Twitter and Facebook have not made this particularly easy! You can add the feeds using the URLs and they will display straightaway on your demo App (shown to the right hand side of the page on an Android style phone). Customised artwork needs to be made to fit the mobile phone screens; I made a Splash screen and a header using graphics created for my website and I will probably create custom icons at some point.

Uploading to the Apple App Store
The tricky part is using your Apple Developer’s account and publishing your AppMakr first to your phone for testing (AdHoc) and then to the App Store. This took me a long time and a lot of fiddling about generating and uploading certificates, and I’m reasonably technically proficient. I can tell you that for some reason, the Safari browser does not work for generating one certificate (why? It’s the Apple browser and I was using a Mac!) and I had to switch to Chrome. My App is now Awaiting Review: Apple checks all Apps submitted to them. AppMakr shows you a graphical display telling you how likely it is to be published.

Creating and publishing an Android App
To create my App for Android I simply copied it over using AppMakr. One Facebook feed refused to work when I downloaded the App for testing, even though it worked in the demo and on the Apple App, so I removed it. I’ll probably add it in a future version (you can upload upgrades to your Apps once they are published). Uploading to Android Market was a joyfully easy process compared to dealing with Apple and took me about ten minutes. I haven’t had many downloads or ratings yet so am hoping for more!

AppMakr was very simple and userfriendly, my only criticism is that they do not have a simple way to add a URL page for your website onto their apps. My website works well in a mobile browser and I would have liked to be able to add it. I am currently looking at ways to add my products so that customers can shop easily online as well, this is a bit of a challenge but I am hoping to come up with a solution. For a blogger or anyone with interesting content to publish I think this is a very accessible way to create a mobile app.

You can download my App by scanning the QR Code with your Android phone using Barcode Scanner or any similar scanning device to install it straight away.

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