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October 8, 2012
TheAppBuilder is a free Web-based application that lets anyone create simple apps without knowing how to program. Developed by JamPot Technologies Ltd., TheAppBuilder is not the first of its kind and won't be the last. But at a recent SF New Tech event, it stood out from the competition in several ways.
First, it's one of the only services of its kind that supports every conceivable platform: Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Mobile, and HTML5. Second, even the free version of TheAppBuilder is ad free. That's huge for me. Third, TheAppBuilder doesn't restrict adding custom graphics, like some of its competitors do. That alone puts it on a level above the rest.
There are just a few qualifications. One: If you use the free version, all apps you create include one tab in the main menu that advertises TheAppBuilder. The tab is the last one, and it's unobtrusive. Although it's not listed on the pricing page, there is an option to get rid of TheAppBuilder's ad for $5 a month.
Message alerts popped under the current window, where I couldn't see them.
Second annoyance: TheAppBuilder is a bit buggy. For instance, in my tests all of the system messages, such as "App saved", appeared like the image nearby (click for a larger version). The message popped up under the current window in which I was working, making it impossible to read. I checked it in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox and had the same problem.
The free version of TheAppBuilder is generous in features. What it doesn't include is the ability to create native apps or upload apps to an app store. Gaining the ability to do either of these costs a hefty $499, plus applicable app store fees, which range from a $25 one-time fee for Google Play to a minimum $99 a year for Windows 8. The paid TheAppBuilder includes native app creation, download statistics, and the ability to charge for your apps. There is also a private option for corporations.
TheAppBuilder is a useful tool for building simple apps. It's one of the few services of its kind that supports so many platforms: Android, iOS, Windows 8, Windows Mobile, and HTML5. On the downside, if its templates and modules don't offer a certain functionality, and you don't know HTML5, you're out of luck.
Price: Free version; $499 for ability to create native apps or upload to a public app store (app store fees are separate).
Easy to make simple apps.
Cost effective for small businesses.
Free option has few restrictions and no ads.
More complex applications can be created using HTML5.
Buggy. I couldn't get maps to work, and the interface messages don't display properly.
The only viable video option is YouTube.
All apps essentially are re-packaged HTML5 pages.
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