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App Development for Dummies (and Journalists)

Sarah Thomas

Dutch startup AppMachine wants to turn anyone into a mobile application developer, whether they know a single line of code or not.

The company has already helped 19,000 build and design apps online, and now it's opening up its platform to everyone in an open public beta. That means that your mom, a blogger, the local coffee shop, or even global DJ Armin van Buuren can build a custom app to submit for publication in the Apple and Google Play app stores.

The startup says it learned from user feedback and questions in its closed beta and has improved the service, making it simple to design, develop, test, and publish apps. This is something I can attest to as I spent the morning building my own app. The process is easy to use and ties in with all of your Web properties, so it's simple to integrate your social networks or, in my case, content from Light Reading.

Nokia has offered its version of a build-your-own-app platform since 2010 for the Ovi App Store, now rebranded as Nokia Xpress Web App Builder.

These services are fun to use, and I can think of at least two people (mom; dad) who would download my app, but what's interesting about them is juxtaposing them next to the operators and GSMA's app initiatives. Looking at their history in the apps space, you'd think getting an app built and deployed took moving mountains. AppMachine, and other services like it, is here saying, "you can do it with a few minutes and a few clicks."

Granted, the apps built through a process like this won't have the deep level of integration that operators can offer through application programming interfaces (APIs), and they may be hard to get published in an app store (especially Apple's walled garden), but they should serve as a reminder that the old world order no longer reigns. Moving slowly, offering expensive services, or imposing stringent requirements isn't going to cut it in a world where anyone can develop an app.

— Sarah Reedy, contributing editor, Light Reading

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Lipi Akter
Lipi Akter,
User Rank: Light Beer
6/6/2013 | 7:24:38 PM
re: App Development for Dummies (and Journalists)
this is great information for a publisher like me as i was in deep trouble when i was looking for a good application. but i as able to find an application that i have used in publishing of my kitchen magazine through PressPad www.presspadapp.com
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/16/2013 | 4:05:58 PM
re: App Development for Dummies (and Journalists)
Thanks for the feedback, seven. I agree with you about speed and quality. That's why I envision the operators building native apps that need a high degree of security and reliability and probably aren't free -- which is why enterprise apps are a good target. Platforms like AppMachine are good for those individuals, pubs or SMBs that want to build an app and extend their presence to mobile, but aren't banking their business on it. But, like you said, you never know where or from whom the next Angry Birds will come from...
User Rank: Light Sabre
4/16/2013 | 3:01:46 PM
re: App Development for Dummies (and Journalists)
Hi Sarah,

I think the biggest thing is and will be the speed/quality changes presented by these new tools and methods. -áTelcos have been very heavy on development time and quality which leads them to use/deploy/make products and services that scale to big audiences. -áNewer forms of development make personal/small group products and services more and more possible. -áSome of these turn into big deals (see Angry Birds) but most don't. -áIt is almost impossible to predict a priori what will happen with these new items. -áI think it makes the dichotomy between the older stolid development and the newer form grow larger by the day. -áBOTH have their place (nobody wants a Router developed by something like AppMachine), but I come back to the notion that trying to cross that gap will become increasingly harder.

As to your robustness comment, one thing to think about is this. -á10 versions of the Appmachine developed app might be available and used in some quantity before the older style became available. -áThat means that likely the initial users will have acted like QA and the bugs found/fixed. -áThe early users and momentum will be taken before the solid app becomes available. -áI think this first mover advantage is going to be huge.

Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
4/16/2013 | 2:26:32 PM
re: App Development for Dummies (and Journalists)
My feeling is that apps built via this process will never be as robust or tightly integrated as those built on APIs and using network assets. AppMachine, and companies like it, aren't a threat to the operators, but rather a good reminder. I think the operators are also targeting the enterprise space more (or at least they should be). Security will be a big concern there.
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