Mobile app development may seem luxurious or too complicated for inexperienced teams. IT isn’t. With modern innovation is that anyone can make an app, whether they are a legit dev wizard, aspiring dev student, or a 40-year-old newbie. You just need to find the right mobile application development software.
What is Mobile App Development Software?
Mobile app development is the process of creating applications for mobile devices. It’s an amazing way to increase customer engagement with smartphone users. The actual development process depends on the type of mobile app development platform you use.
Some tools are built around traditional hand coding, where others have been simplified to be used for low-code or no-code development. Low-code requires some programming knowledge because there may be areas where you need to code but won’t have to build from scratch. No-code designers offer a graphical user interface (GUI) that allows you to build the app with zero programming experience.
Many commercial app builders, which are designed for B2C use cases, are entirely no-code. When it comes to using non-commercial app builders for making internal applications for your team, you’ll find many low-code and no-code options. Several will even be open-source. You won’t find any open-source commercial app service providers because hosting and distribution are included in the subscription.
For more information on mobile app development see our article here.
What You Should be Weary of
On top of subscription costs, the separate cost of a developer account with app stores can be a concern for many organizations. This account and the associated fee are required for registering your app. The Apple App Store charges $99 for an annual fee and $299 for enterprise accounts. The Google Play Store only requires a one-time fee of $25 for your account. Click here for the Apple App Store registration guidelines,, and for the Google Play Store registration guidelines, go here.
Apps made using low-code and no-code app builders run the risk of not actually being yours. You are essentially renting their coded templates, server hosting, and storage. Without the subscription, you no longer have access to the app.
They have every right to control or modify your content. You can read through their terms of service to find out if they allow you to retain any rights or if you don’t retain anything if the subscription ends. This is often overlooked because it can seem obvious; you didn’t actually create the code or host the data on a private server, so usage is 100% dependent on subscription access. This is one of the main trade-offs when it comes to no-code app builders.
If you want to completely own your app without a company being able to modify or take away your access, then you need to create the code from scratch or use an open-source app builder. The trade-off for that is the maintenance of the software and server for hosting requires technical computer skills. It’s not impossible to learn, you just need time and patience.
When it comes to usability and accessibility, no-code app builders have to meet their respective app store standards, but these do not entirely align with web accessibility standards. The Apple Store’s statement to developers asks that they design with accessibility in mind, but if you’ve ever gone through reviews of mobile apps you will see bugs in the user interface are one of the most common complaints in Android and Apple apps.
Web accessibility is required by law if you are offering a commercial service to the general public. Commercial app builders will often not disclose just how accessible their platform is, so what often happens is a business goes in blind just assuming the software is already web-accessible.
Never assume the service provider of a mobile app development company made it so your app is in compliance with web accessibility standards. Many providers see it as a “you” problem. Some will promise accessibility but fall far short when actually tested.
Keep in mind your media like videos, text, and images are your responsibility. No app builder can save you if you create videos without appropriate closed captioning. It would be wonderful if the platform provided closed captioning tools, but it’s not required.
Testing for how web-accessible the application is comes down to you. You will need to try the app from different perspectives such as someone who is deaf or blind. See the articles below to educate yourself on web accessibility, the law, and the different disabilities it applies to.
- What is web accessibility?
- Web accessibility law you should know
- Amazing web accessibility toolkit
- How to be web accessible
Small Business Mobile App Development Platforms
Mobile application development services can range from free, to affordable, and extremely expensive. Many will include features for performance analytics and testing while some will be bare bones for less experienced users.
Some will even offer tools to work on your SEO, marketing strategy, and brand awareness. The cost and functionality will certainly depend on your use case, whether you need an app for your daily workflow or a commercial app to distribute to your consumer base.
The Appy Pie app-building platform is a commercial, no-code development environment. You can use their pre-built templates for specific use cases, add your own media, and test the app on your mobile device. It can be connected to your social media channels right off the bat.
Regular development teams would find it very limiting because the software offers a simplified environment for easy drag-and-drop building. There is no option to customize the source code, which is the property of Appy Pie.
Appy Pie plans are affordable but they do have limits that can be costly. The cost is per app per month and each plan limits the number of downloads and push notifications you can have per app. Teams also cannot remove Appy Pie branding without buying the add-on package.
|Appy Pie Plans
|App downloads limit
|Push notifications limit
The Basic plan comes right out of the box with app distribution, hosting, and app analytics to track performance. It’s an affordable start for new entrepreneurs. It only has Android app development. The plan also doesn’t have premium features or any real customer support aside from email.
The Gold subscription has first-time app submission support when applying to app stores and an additional chat feature for customer support. This plan provides teams access to premium features to help you customize your app idea. The capabilities include the ability to create apps with messaging, polling, and delivery options. You can learn more about them here.
With Platinum, you get the ability to develop iOS apps for mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. If you just want to create Android apps then this upgrade isn’t worth the extra cost because the features are the same as in Gold.
Enterprise does not have upfront pricing available but it does come with additional features for customer support and data protection. You will have a personal account manager, a data security officer, and HIPAA compliance.
If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty details of the software then YouTube is one of the best places to look. You can find tutorials along with video reviews. The comments section will also have great feedback from those who tried the software.
This product really benefits small businesses and startups that need to create an app but are entirely inexperienced. The plans are super affordable, especially for a commercial app builder with a no-code designer. The company also offers step-by-step tutorials for app-building. With them, you can get a feel for how easy it will be for you and your team to learn and build in the development environment.
It’s very similar to web builders for no-code website design. It only requires you to select your preferred use cases, icons, color schemes, and settings input. The video below shows you how to build your first app.
A common issue for commercial app builders is it’s more DIY so you don’t get as much help or security unless you choose a higher plan. Because they’re completely no-code with built-in hosting, you don’t own the source code since it’s their template and development environment. You are renting their services, and the app is not yours.
When it comes to how accessible your app will be there aren’t currently any reviews or reports on just how effective Appy Pie templates are. The site does have an accessibility report but it evaluates the experience of the app creator, not your app’s end-user. This means it doesn’t reflect whether or not your app can be used by those with disabilities.
An awesome video review from Tyler Talks explores all the good and bad aspects of using Appy Pie. He goes over the different plans and his personal experience with developing apps in the software.
Another great commercial no-code app builder is Good Barber. They are super easy to use and offer live previews of your app as you build it. Many of their plans are affordable, but they can get more expensive.
When you go to Good Barber’s pricing page, you will see 3 options but those are on the starting plans for their 3 different subscription options. They have Content, eCommerce, and Reseller subscription packages which all have their own individual plans to choose from. This can be confusing for some. You will need to click on each featured plan to see the rest of the options you have to choose from.
|Content / Standard Plan
|eCommerce / Standard Plan
|Reseller /Agency Content Plan
|$25 month billed annually
|$35 month billed annually
|$200 month billed annually
The Content plans offer prices starting at $25 per month to $200 per month. You can see all 4 subscription plans here. The subscription is designed for teams that want to build apps for information sharing like education, religion, and hot news topics. All of the Content plans provide a no-code app builder, a content management system (CMS), and SEO tools.
In the eCommerce subscription plan, prices range from $35 to $267 per month and you can check out all 4 plans here. All the plans also offer the same core benefits in the Content plans like the no-code designer and CMS. The added bonus that makes them eCommerce suited is payment options like Stripe and PayPal along with offline payment capabilities.
Reseller plans are the most expensive options, they have 2 choices: the Agency Content plan at $200/mo and the Agency eCommerce plan at $267/mo.
The Agency Content plan comes with everything from the Content subscriptions plus unlimited app downloads, user accounts, and projects. With the Agency eCommerce plan, you get everything in Content plus everything else in the eCommerce plans. It also includes unlimited products and product variants.
If you’re a large team with a solid customer base then unlimited app downloads and staff accounts would definitely be ideal. It is a very expensive step up from the other subscriptions so it’s worth considering before any big commitments.
Good Barder is often raved about for how simple they are. Video tutorials for the platform are widely available by the service provider and by experts online. You can find videos directly from the mobile app development company here.
The platform still has the same issues as any other commercial no-code designer, you require a subscription for access to your app and you don’t own the source code. Accessibility for end-users of the app is also not well known.
Below is a short review of the pros and cons of Good Barber.
Another popular commercial no-code mobile app development platform is Buildfire. They have advanced features for analytics and app testing for your eCommerce business apps.
Buildfire is a good example of one of the more expensive commercial no-code app builders. Their plans are super feature-rich and offer development options for different use cases.
You can choose to have the Buildfire team create your app for you and have it fully managed by their team. The cost is dependent on the app you want to build and not disclosed without meeting with them first. To learn more about this service go here.
An in-between option for having the Buildfire team build your app and help with initial setup is the Buildfire Plus Professional Services Plans. The plans are in the thousands so it is a big commitment.
In the table below are the DIY plans for the Buildfire App Development Platform. They are the most affordable paid plans. Development itself on Buildfire is actually free but if you plan to distribute to the app store then you need a paid subscription per app you create. You can have multiple users in your account. Subscriptions can be paid annually or quarterly.
|$299 per month billed annually
|$424 per month billed annually
|$594 per month billed annually
|Monthly Active Devices
|50K per month
|150K per month
|300K per month
|Push notifications limit
|250K per month
|500K per month
|1M per month
Inside the Starter subscription, teams can build iOS apps, Android apps, and web apps. It comes with premium features like the ability to add questionnaires, order menus, and QR scanners in your app design. You’re also provided with app analytics and 15GB of storage.
With Standard, you have access to almost all premium features, more analytics, and 50GB of data storage. Their advanced app metrics include audience segmentation and timeline tracking. You also get more security with single sign-on login. This plan is great for very established teams but might be less than budget friendly for new or small teams.
The Standard Plus subscription offers premium plugins (not listed), unlimited admin seats, and even more analytics. You can track overall app health, and get recommendation reporting. This plan is best for future development and updates your projects and app ideas. It is unfortunately extremely expensive, but there are other more affordable solutions like Appy Pie or Zoho Creators Ultimate plan.
Buildfire was specially designed for teams to offer high-quality eCommerce mobile applications. It’s simple and easy to use but also has features like analytics and great integrations. They have super-informative online tutorials for development and mobile marketing help. You can see their YouTube channel here.
With accessibility, Buildfire is actually upfront about web accessibility compliance. They offer a guide for how to be web accessibility with their software. They talk about relevant disabilities, and the type of content you should or should not add to your app. You can see the full guide here.
We will say this is partially a con because you need to ensure your app is accessible by yourself, but the reality is that a good portion of being web accessible means creating compliant content. This means the videos and media you upload you are responsible for, which is a pretty fair rule.
The biggest problem with this tool is managing your mobile app development budget with such an expensive platform. If their costs require you to stretch your resources then don’t make the commitment. If you ever find you can’t make a payment then you will lose the app.
Another accessibility concern is that while Buildfire reminds you to create compliant content it’s not clear just how accessible the underlying source code of your app will be since it’s not disclosed.
For an in-depth review from Tyler Talks, see the overview below. Note that the video mentions paid plans that have changed, Growth is no longer offered and the Standard Plus plan is new.
A popular low-code application development platform is Zoho Creator. They offer mobile development tools for both iOS and Android mobile phones and allow users to access their Zoho cloud of other tools.
Zoho Creator does have a free version but it only allows one app and it’s more limited. It is a super great way to learn how to use their app builder tools and find out if it’s going to work with your business needs.
|Zoho Creator Plans for Mobile Apps
|$25 per user per month billed annually
|$400 per month billed annually
When it comes to smaller teams, Zoho Creator is a great option for two use cases. One is for the small team or startup that wants to hit the ground running and improve their business workflow. The other is for small business owners that plan to develop mobile applications not just for their business needs but to offer their target audience business mobile applications.
Professional offers teams a total of 5 apps along with reporting and analytics. It has more advanced software development tools like application development sandboxes so you can test your app without affecting your current live app. The plan also offers more hosting solutions like custom domain and payment gateway access. If you need a marketing tool, they provide marketing campaign features as well.
It’s ideal for small businesses that need an app builder that can create high-quality business applications without dealing with a super expensive subscription.
With Ultimate you get a huge step up with unlimited apps and 10 users built into the cost. This plan has all available mobile app design, and development features including the ability to offer your app in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. This is the best choice if you want to build business solutions for distribution to your customer base.
Zoho Creator End-User Reviews
With very positive reviewers’ sentiment, Zoho Creator has a trScore of 9/10 based on review scoring.
Software that is as stacked as Zoho Creator will have a learning curve with inexperienced and experienced users. There are plenty of reasons why they’re worth it just as there are cons to the platform.
One general manager in the healthcare industry gave Zoho Creator a 10/10 for improving daily workflow. The company often visits nursing homes, notifies primary care doctors, and tracks employee payroll. They were able to track all those diverse actions with custom applications. The user recommends it to any team but does explain that there was an initial adjustment time for learning the software.
From another healthcare perspective, a software development manager talks about how the platform was super simple to use for app-building. They highly recommend it saying it’s, “Easy to develop and design, no need for high-level coding skills with Zoho Creator Platform.”
The Director of manufacturing of a food production company gave Zoho Creator a 4/10 mainly because of their experience with the customer support team. They still recommend the software to small teams but it was a struggle for their medium-sized company. Deluge was easy to learn and they enjoyed the cross-platform capabilities.
When it came down to it they felt it wasn’t scalable to their needs; there were issues with application logic failing. Support was found to be unhelpful with the user stating, “Support team will insist that it had always been working when it is clearly evident that they are scrambling to fix the issue at the backend.”
While their experience wasn’t the norm, it’s important to consider whether the platform can meet your level of scalability. There is a free version you can work around and plenty of more reviews to read through. If you do talk with them, always make sure to bring up specific concerns, even if it means talking about a negative review.
For teams that want to learn more about the interface and navigation, check out the tutorial for app creation below.
Microsoft Power Apps
In Microsoft Power App, you can build business applications with low-code tools. Teams can build mobile applications from scratch or with templates. You can create native apps and publish them to both the App and Google Play stores.
Microsoft Power App subscriptions aren’t like other mobile development platforms with low and higher priced tiers. Each plan has the same features; the difference is your specific use case. The plans reflect which functionality you need the most, whether it’s more users or more apps. They also have the option to pay based on usage rather than a regular subscription.
|Microsoft Power Apps
|Per app plan
|Per user plan
|Per app plan (pay-as-you-go)
|$5 per app per user, per month
|$20 per user per month
|$10 per user per app a month
All plans get their functionality from Microsoft Azure AI Builder. With it you can develop artificial intelligence models using low-code tools and access predictive analytics.
For the per app plan, you’re provided with 250 AI Builder credits a month. This plan charges you for each app and portal per user. You would want this plan if you don’t need multiple apps. If you have multiple users this would be a cheaper choice than paying per user.
In the per user plan, teams can earn 500 AI Builder credits per month. It has the great benefits of unlimited apps and portals per user account. This is the best choice if you need multiple apps and aren’t worried about the costs per user.
With the per app plan, you have access to pricing tailored to how often you actively use your apps each month. This is the best choice for small businesses that won’t be constantly using their business solutions each month. The plan will require a Microsoft Azure subscription. You can learn more about it here.
Microsoft Power Apps Customer Base Reviews
Power Apps has strong positive feedback with a trScore of 8.4/10 and is a Top Rated software.
Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re perfect for everyone. Microsoft may be a juggernaut in software development, but they can’t meet everyone’s needs. Mobile app developers can definitely appreciate the quality of most of their products but it’s worth it to consider both the pros and cons.
Users reported satisfaction with the Microsoft integrations, ease of use, and customization. An HR manager for a transportation company enjoyed Power Apps features, learning materials, and overall cost savings. They were able to effectively help speed up their employee’s workflow and eliminate time-consuming tasks so they’re more productive. Some did note that there was expressed desire for more formats and customization options.
An IT engineer that uses Power Apps for business process automation, and rated them 9/10. The software is integral to their business needs and was reported to have pre-built data views for easy implementation. Although they are super tech-savvy, they did say that it took them time to learn and understand.
Afew customers expressed the desire for more features, problems with formulas, and struggles with complicated processes. While users did find the development process to be user-friendly, many end-users did encounter problems.
A project manager named Chris found the software to be satisfactory but had a lot to say about how they feel it will change in the future. They explain that “Like many early-stage Microsoft products, PowerApps is a relatively blank slate that will be improved by the feedback of their users and ongoing feature development. Right now it seems that the product lacks a critical mass of use-case driven templates.”
It’s not a directly negative point, it’s very hopeful for future improvements. One of the benefits of leaving reviews is the hope that it will find its way to the vendor’s product team. In this case though if what you need is very specific, pre-built ready-to-go templates then maybe you may want to wait on using Power Apps.
Corey, a cost control coordinator, found Power Apps to be pretty great but they gave them an 8/10. This is because there was not a specific format for desktop browser screens, and the lack of copy and paste option made development time-consuming for them. While they appreciate the tools of the software, they don’t recommend it to teams that don’t have the patience to take time on complex applications. For simple apps, it can be fast but for more complicated functionality it’s “a relatively large time investment.”
Someone else also complained about a lack of a desktop development environment. They were generally happy with using and implementing the software but not the overall feature set. It’s a rare complaint, but they also felt it needed more code customization for more experienced users.
Most of you are searching for the perfect solution for mobile development, but once you get started on your projects you may find you want other options. Power Apps is a powerful tool, but can certainly use more capabilities. You can see more reviews here, and to learn how the software works view the tutorial below.
AppSheet is a no-code /low-code development platform that was recently acquired by Google in 2020. Teams can use the service to build applications to improve their workflow. You can use them to build mobile apps for both iOS and Android mobile devices.
AppSheet is free for actual application development and allows 10 users. When you want to deploy the apps so your team can use them, then you will need to get a paid subscription.
|$5 per user per month
|$10 per user per month
Starter provides teams with application building, automation, and community support. It’s meant to be the most affordable plan for beginners that don’t want software with steep learning curves or tons of confusing tools.
Core offers advanced app building, more security, and email customer support. This version is better for teams that want stronger app-building features like automated data changes and natural language processing assistants. It’s good for speeding up the development time with automation, but it doesn’t have more robust tools like machine learning.
In Enterprise Standard, you can build machine learning models, with access to team collaboration features, and priority support. Unfortunately, there is no upfront pricing to know if the cost is worth the capabilities, but these are great tools for teams that want high-end features.
The Enterprise Plus plan, the main difference between them and plus is the plan has more scalability and data protection. It comes with governance policies, enforcement, and reporting as well as enterprise-level data services with artificial intelligence.
AppSheet Customer Reviews
Reviewer sentiment for AppSheet is very positive with a trScore of 8.1/10 and is Top Rated.
If you want to know how well it will meet your needs then you should consider the pros and cons. Luckily user reviews are formatted so everyone is encouraged to talk about the good and bad parts of their experience.
A maintenance supervisor that rated AppSheet a 10/10 went into detail about the app he created with the software. They explain that the app records all actions of the entire company including inventory, contact information, department tasks, locations, and much more. They highly recommend the software to teams that want personalized databases but not for high graphics applications.
Another end-user that gave AppSheet 10/10 talks about their experience with just a mobile app. At the time of the review, they are still in the process of developing their app but enjoy the speed of the development process for their prototypes. They don’t recommend the software for building apps with complex layouts and visuals.
One user from an IT service company felt AppSheet met all core needs but gave them a 7/10. They had issues with the software UI after their number of tables really expanded. It became increasingly overwhelming with more data inputs and they felt it could definitely be scaled better.
They felt the general UI itself needed improvement and they noticed a few bugs in the new graphs. While they agreed the software is great for small businesses, they don’t think the pricing is as small business friendly (in India) because it doesn’t offer licenses for teams under 15-20 groups. Pricing in the table reflects US licenses. We do not have information on different licenses outside of the USA but encourage your team to bring it up during consultation if it’s applicable.
Balaji, a solution architect, found the app builder to be great for those without technical expertise and enjoys the functionality. They still gave AppSheet a 7/10 because they had issues with certain robust tools like machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), and lack of monitoring for logs.
Not everyone has plans to create a complex app, but if your team does make sure to look at other reviews and ask questions during the consultation. The last thing you need is issues with the functionality you specifically chose software for.
If you’re ready to take a close look at the software see the beginner tutorial below.
Kintone is a no-code application development platform that you can use to build business applications. You can develop mobile applications like iOS and Android native apps with the software. They are beginner-friendly and offer simple but powerful features to cater to small and large teams.
Kintone only has one plan with flexible payment options and plenty of great features. They’re a frontrunner if you tend to get overwhelmed when a platform gives you way too many choices of subscription plans (we’ve all been there). Payment is flexible with the choice of both monthly or annual contracts, but you are required to buy at least 5 user accounts, which is $120 per month.
|$24 per user per month (must add at least 5 users)
The plan offers teams up to 900 apps, 300 workspaces, and 5GB of storage per user. They also have admin permissions and security features like account lockout. The platform may not be as feature-rich as Zoho Creator, but it is designed to be both user-friendly and robust. Your teams have so much room to build and create future projects and apps. They also offer integrations with other business solutions that you use like QuickBooks and Evernote.
Some of Kintone’s main features and functionality include:
- Custom processes
- Status history
- Private messaging
- Tagging other users
- Field lookup
- Record commenting
- Custom graphs
- Audit logs
Kintone User Experience Reviews
Kintone has strong user reviews and a high trScore of 8.8/10. It makes sense that they are a Top Rated product by reviewers, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have areas to improve.
By exploring some pros and cons of the software, you can narrow down the features you need and the ones you can live without.
A project manager for a construction company noted that Kintone was actually a little too complex for employees to make customizations so they did struggle with a learning curve for their team. Thankfully their customer service representative was super helpful and they were able to make the customizations their team needed.
Their other criticism was while quality of the product was very good, they felt they could definitely improve the user interface (UI) to be more pleasing to the eye. Below you will see a Kintone tutorial, and you can see that the UI is somewhat dated, while still functional.
Gail, an independent consultant, used the Kintone app builder for the project management of over 80 clients. They absolutely love the software and the customer service team even more so. The reason they gave Kintone an 8/10 was that they wish there were more small customization options like being able to change the font or highlight project items so they can be found easily.
It’s a fair criticism because being able to change the font should be a basic function. It’s not enough of a reason to change to a new service, because Gail did point out the software was so easy for her to learn she made 3 apps on the first day.
When it comes to the common issues users had most mentioned the desire for more customization options, small problems with capability, or wanting the UI to improve. Some also felt that although the customer support was good, they wished there were more methods of communication and that the team had more development knowledge.
One of the lowest reviews was a 3/10 from Nic, an Inventory Clerk at a Nonprofit organization. They don’t have a deep hatred for Kintone nor were horribly wronged by them. His issue was with incorrect data input in a form that caused major issues because of the linked information. Nic tried customer support but could not schedule a meeting for 2 weeks, and found that the person they talked to wasn’t helpful.
Given their situation, their team likely needed more tech support help, but it’s not uncommon to have customer support and tech support be completely different departments. It would obviously be better if an app development company offered experts as their first line of support.
Nic noted that they only had one meeting so it’s not clear if Kintone’s support planned to forward the issue to another department, but it’s clear they were fed up with the wait time. In the end, Nic notes that they felt the software did have good features and they saw the potential in it to improve.
Reviews like his are the perfect example of something to bring up during a consultation. How a company responds when asked about the negative experiences of past customers can really show their true character. The last thing you want is a vendor that makes excuses or refuses to answer important concerns.
Other end-users didn’t have as bad of an experience but also had similar feelings about the support team’s expertise. A customer that gave the software a 9/10, noted that although customer support treated them wonderfully, they weren’t as helpful as they could be. They wrote, “I had two issues and the support teams were very quick to respond. However, the support teams don’t seem very technical. They only knew the basic knowledge about how things work.”
Another user that also enjoyed the service enough to give them a 10/10, mentioned, “Overall mostly great, but depends on Kintone’s available resources, the timing, our capabilities in expressing what we want (clients usually don’t have this), and the lack of available types of support by Kintone.”
In general, their customer support rating is a high 8.5 according to all the praise in reviews. You can filter reviews that talk about customer service by clicking on the support rating filter, or by going here.
For those of you that want to learn more about Kintone and how to use them, check out the tutorial below. It explains how to build a custom application.
When you’re ready to pick the best mobile development platform for your team, then go and check out our other mobile app-building software here. If you’re particularly interested in low-code development for business solutions then you can find more choices here; we have a list of no-code development software for business applications here. Teams can find a separate category for business process automation software here. For general application development products, go here.
For those that have used any of the above platforms, please leave a review to help other buyers make informed decisions.
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