3 Mobile App Builders for Developers

There should be little doubt in a Web professional's mind about the importance of a mobile strategy in today's smartphone-obsessed world.

Consumers' reliance on their mobile phones for browsing, communicating and researching has led many enterprises to develop branded apps - giving customers the ability to engage with their brand in yet another way. Then there's traditional app development companies who market games, wellness and more. In short, everyone wants a piece of the mobile-app pie. After all, by 2017 it's expected there will be more than 268 billion app downloads, which will account for $77 billion in revenue. To put that in perspective, in 2014 U.S. retail ecommerce sales equaled about $300 billion. With the continued use of mobile apps perhaps one day the two industries will meet in the middle of revenue earned.

While consumer loyalty and dollars are certainly there for the taking (U.S. smartphone users accessed 26.7 apps per month in the fourth quarter of 2014), only the top apps are getting screen time. Nielsen found that more than 70 percent of the total usage is coming from the top 200 apps.

Becoming a favorite app is easier said than done, of course, and that puts a heavy burden on developers as they try to meet client and user demands. The "it" factor that makes an app a must-download can be replicated by certain best practices (e.g. the app icon itself, app store optimization, competitive research and flawless design), but often it's the same non-recipe as the virality of a YouTube video. Users decide what makes something interesting, compelling or entertaining, as well as what they are willing to share with their peers.

Before any of that, however, app development is the most crucial (and ongoing) step. Many developers turn up their noses at mobile app builders, but there are some that are catered to the development type (not the business owner or marketer who thinks they can build their own).

Despite being a "low-code" platform, Appery.io is one of them, as developers can bypass its pre-built templates and leverage their existing tools for popular JavaScript frameworks (e.g. jQuery Mobile, AngularJS, Bootstrap and Ionic).

Xamarin should also be a developer's short list, because they can build, test and monitor their apps from one platform. Developers can write their apps in C#, sharing the same code on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac and other operating systems. When it comes to testing, developers can find "bugs before their users do," according to the company by automating their app testing on 1,800 real devices in the cloud. Xamarin's real-time monitoring can be enabled by adding one line of code to an app.

Finally, App Press labels itself as "code free" and offers the ability to drop in graphics and content, but developers will find App Press's interface to be a partner in the app development process, much in the way Adobe creative suite is.

In fact, Adobe - long relied on by designers and developers - also offers a way to create app layouts fast but then hand off the prototype to a mobile app developer.

App builders have certainly gotten a bad rap in the same way website builders have for the development set, but many of today's tech tools are giving (even) developers features that are easy to use but can never duplicate their expertise. The best app builders are those that are additives to developers' skills rather than trying to be replacements.