No-Code Tools for Mobile Application Development 2021 + Important Tradeoffs
By 2024, it is going to constitute 65% of all app development. It has already revolutionized strategy for many businesses, ranging from SMEs to big multinational corporations. So what is a NoCode approach in mobile application development and how can you benefit from it?
NoCode has been around for longer than you might think. Although the term was introduced in 2014, the roots go back to the 1990s and the first Rapid Application Development tools such as Excel, Microsoft Access, and Lotus Notes (many of them are used till today for conducting complex tasks like data analysis without a line of code).
NoCode as most of us knows it appeared online in 2003-2004 with services like WordPress and Shopify. Strikingly, WordPress is still powering 38.5% of the internet. The newer generation of NoCode platforms (think Airtable, Zapier, Bubble, Power Apps) brought application development to a new level. Today, anyone can make mobile apps, and leverage the benefits like significant cost reduction, faster development, and easier deployment.
How to create mobile apps?
There are three major options:
Low-code – the platforms that reduce the amount of hand-coding, but still require technical knowledge. Are usually aimed at developers and make their work faster.
No-code – require no coding whatsoever, are operable through a drag-and-drop interface or similar solutions. Accessible to anyone, albeit with tradeoffs (described below).
Traditional (code-based) development – has the least limitations, but can be expensive.
We reviewed the top phone app development platforms for 2021 so that you can choose one according to your needs.
Top-7 NoCode app development tools
1. Appy Pie
Appy Pie is one of the most popular NoCode mobile app development services with 3 million small businesses worldwide. The platform grows really fast (more than 1.5 million apps built-in 4 years) due to competitive pricing and the wide range of features.
They support web and PWA apps as well as Android and iOS and provide assistance with publishing to Google Play and Apple App Store. There are also various deployment options: Cloud, Web-Based, SaaS.
You can make and preview a basic web app for free, without sign-in. If you choose to create a native app it will cost $40 per month. (Note that many features need additional payment).
Appy Pie is a good choice for an app similar to something already existing. If you are within e-commerce or marketing, there is a good chance you will find a template you imagined right away. However, the templates are quite similar, and adding more features can be a bit of a hassle.
AppSheet is a popular low-code and no-code app builder. It is famous for the option of creating an app with your existing data (from Google Drive, Docs, Excel, Dropbox, Office 365, and other clouds and databases).
The tool provides basic and advanced editors to customize your app. It allows adding features like push notifications, email alerts, charts, GPS maps, etc. Deployment options include Cloud, Web-Based, iOS, Android, SaaS.
They offer a free version for basic features; also, a free trial with pricing from $5.00 per month, per user.
Appian has been providing a low-code mobile apps development service for businesses of all sizes since 1999. It specializes in building business process management (BPM) applications. Gartner has repeatedly named it a Leader for Enterprise Low-Code Application Platforms.
The platform drives digital transformation in companies through apps that optimize business operations, support a customer journey, and enforce compliance with regulations. For example, Bayer reduced reporting time from hours to minutes due to Appian software.
The platform’s prominent feature is breaking down heavy database work, object mapping, and UI customization to make collaboration between different departments easier. Appian’s deployment options include cloud, on-premise, or hybrid. They offer a free trial but don’t have a free version. The pricing is relatively high – starting from $60.00 per month.
This low-code phone app development platform specializes in delivering cross-device business apps. It runs solely in the cloud, unlike most rivals, which require downloading the program on your computer. The cloud-based back end can be integrated with any app or system via APIs.
This app builder supports Android, IOS, hybrid mobile apps, web apps, and PWAs. It generates code in numerous frameworks and languages. Features include a visual design with customiszable components, data mapping, app testing, collaboration tools, customer console, deployment, and integration services. You can access source code for further customization (database options, plug-ins, and APIs).
Appery.io pricing starts at $25.00 per month. They offer a free trial but do not have a free version.
This popular app builder for eCommerce and content management has more than 30,000 apps published. It is mostly recommended for the quality of design features. There are 50 beautiful looking templates to begin with, as well as hundreds of icons and fonts.
GoodBarber supports both native (iOS, Android) and progressive web apps. They assess and help publish your app on the App Store. You can integrate videos, calendars, most social networks, and eCommerce platforms. The pricing begins at €25 per month, and they offer a free month trial period.
BuildFire is a popular no-code app builder across many industries (supports over 10,000 apps). It provides a library of themes, flexibility to scale, and many features to choose from (analytics, geotargeting, etc.)
The platform’s differentiating factor is a team of engineers and designers you can hire to customize your app. They support Android, iOS, and web mobile applications, and can help you with the publishing process. Pricing starts from $159 per month, and they offer a free trial.
7. Microsoft PowerApps
This low-code mobile application development platform has made it to this list due to its popularity, user-friendly interface with drag-and-drop features, prebuilt templates, and quick deployment. If you need a custom app with enough flexibility to address most business challenges, this might be the right choice.
The advantage of PowerApps is extensibility with Azure Functions, cloud services, Office 365, Dynamics 365, and hundreds of other connectors, including custom. (Even though you will need professional developers to do that).
- Bubble – one of the most popular app builders; doesn’t support native apps.
- Bizness Apps – a key player on the market, created 500,000+ small business apps.
- Thunkable – recommended for beginners.
- Glide – creats apps from Google Sheets in minutes.
- Pandasuite – claims to be the most interactive no-code platform.
- AppMySite – converts WordPress and websites into mobile apps.
- Adalo – automatic database configuration and integrations.
- BettyBlocks – an enterprise-focused tool.
- Zoho Creator – a popular low-code tool for enterprise-class applications.
Drawbacks of no-code solutions
Lack of customization. The sameness of pre-built designs and functionality boundaries can deprive you of competitive advantage. A bespoke application will be unique & tailored to your specific needs, with user journey maps, testing, design sprints, etc.
Integration issues. Low-code platforms sometimes make it difficult to integrate and migrate third-party systems with your app.
No complex solutions. Every no-code platform has limitations you will hit sooner or later. Advanced features will require workarounds, a professional developer, or relocation to full-code.
Scalability. What if the design needs to be changed, but the technical foundation is no longer supported, or maybe you will need advanced features like AR/MR? Not to mention the adoption of new technologies like JAMstack, evolving content architectures, etc.
Learning curve. No-code may be easier than learning Computer Science, but you will still need to learn the basics like what is a wireframe in web design or how to test mobile applications.
Costs. People often underestimate the no-code app development price. Vendors can act like monopolists and charge for additional features. Sometimes, custom development can be even more beneficial (especially considering lower risks of product’s inefficiency). If you can’t find a mobile app development company in the USA, you can always outsource app development for a lower cost.
Vendor lock-in. Yes, stories of successful apps shutting down along with the vendor are true. Usually, you have little to no control over the backend and are unable to move to another platform or expand functionality even after hiring a pro developer. Think of the App Maker example – even Google is not immune to problems.
No-code/low-code solutions can be used to your advantage if they meet your exact needs. For example, if you are a startup looking for easy solutions, with very limited funds, little to no need for data transfer, third-party integrations, and scaling; or maybe a large enterprise looking for rapidly developed CRM.
But if you have any doubts, we recommend going for custom mobile app development. Not only it will be tailored to your needs, in your full control, and always ready for scaling and growing – but also be planned, tested, and approved by professionals. We are here to help, anytime. You can view our cases or the all-around services we provide for startups.