This week, I learned how to build mobile apps. So of course, I had to make one for this little blog right here!
Pretty neat, right? I did it all on Appmakr.com for a total of just $12/year. I got myself a Google Developer License for $25 (one time fee!), and published it to the Play Store. That makes a grand total of $37 to design and publish my own app! But guess what, with that one time payment for the Developer License, I’m able to publish as many apps to the Play Store as I like!
You can see my app here: Welcome To The Zoo App for Android.
If I want to publish it to the App Store for iPhones, iPads, etc, I can do that as well. It’s $108/year because the App Store charges more to publish apps. Realistically though, Android seems to be dominating the market right now, so I’ll stick with it for the time being.
So … how did I do it? Appmakr has a drag and drop interface and it’s super easy to use. Most of the apps in their own app store look pretty sad, but don’t let appearances fool you. Because it’s so easy to use, you can customize your app to make it look much more professional. It won’t look like you’ve spent thousands developing it … but it’ll look pretty amazing for your $12!
Most of the functions in Appmakr will link to content you already have online: your Facebook page, Youtube channel, Twitter feed, live streaming link, blog rss, etc. This is the perfect way to gather everything into one place for your fans and followers to have one-touch access to!
Tip #1 – Upload your own images for everything! Don’t use their stock icons or backgrounds, or you’ll risk looking super cheesy. Design your icons in a program like Picmonkey.com. Make sure you use a square canvas, but the actual size isn’t too important. Appmakr will resize it 128 pixels square anyway. Design a splash screen (loading screen) and home screen at least 1024 x 768, and make icons for each of the functions you’d like.
Tip #2 – You can change the size and placement of the icon buttons. The icon size is changed on a sliding scale and they all resize together. But if you want icons of varying size, use a transparent canvas in Picmonkey, and just make your icon smaller in it.
Tip #3 – Appmakr allows you to add html pages to your app. I haven’t used this yet, but I could see it being perfect for FAQ pages, videos, or unique content to your app.
Tip #4 – Don’t check “Open in new window” when you’re adding links for each of the icon buttons. If you do, the app will open the user’s browser, and they’ll be taken away from your app. If you don’t check it, the link will open within the app, and there will still be a “Home” button and “Back” button visible so that users can quickly get back to your homescreen. From what I understand, you’ll still get the pageviews though, for those of us who are counting!
Tip #5 – Appmakr doesn’t provide push notifications (those little notes in your notification bar on your phone), but they do have in-app messaging. When users open the app, a pop-up says “You have a new message. Open it?” and users can choose to read it or dismiss it. This message is easily changed from Appmakr, although you have to go through the design interface to do it. Still, it’s better than nothing! This is a great way to let users know about new content, a contest you’re running, or whatever else you’d like them to know!
In the near future, I plan on doing a video tutorial so that you’ll be able to see the process. It’s actually a lot of fun, and really quick!
And hey, why not take the Welcome To The Zoo app for a test drive! I’d love to hear your thoughts!