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Seven tools for developing your own mobile apps

Mobile is the world’s fastest growing platform. As a result many individuals and firms have turned to mobile applications to more effectively engage their audience. This is no easy task, however, since creating these apps requires a good command of advanced programming languages such as Objective C (iOS) or Java (Android).

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Fortunately, a number of tools have been created which open this space up to both novices and web designers. These development tools enable the development of mobile applications using drop and drag interfaces or web technologies. These tools then translate your code so it can be understood by multiple devices. This allows the rapid creation of apps that can take advantage of rich feature sets and automatically run on multiple devices.

Below are a combination of app-builders, each of which requires a different set of skills and level of expertise:

Appcelerator
With 1.5-million active developers and 22 thousand apps released the [LINK]Appcelerator Titanium SDK is one of the leading tools for mobile development. The SDK allows developers to focus on building a single application that can then be deployed on multiple desktop and mobile platforms. Apps are easily coded with web technologies such as PHP, Python, CCS, HTML and Javascript. Certainly the most powerful framework on this list, it has found uses with the likes of NBC Universal and eBay. A single developer license costs US$49

Welcome to Appcelerator

App Inventor
Google, in its efforts to allow any one to create and deploy Mobile Apps, developed App Inventor. Web browser based, App Inventor allows you to drop and drag designs and behaviours so they slot together like a puzzle. As would be expected, App Inventor only creates app for Android devices but it is great for those who have little or know programming skills. This is a development tool for novices and amatuers. As the video implicitly suggests, this should not be considered as a tool to create commercial grade applications.

Appmakr
Appmakr allows you to create mobile apps without having to programme a single line of code. This point and click solution takes current content from your website and automatically builds a mobile app for you. Althought AppMakr does offer Ad integration, it is ultimately a glorified RSS reader which is unable to take advantage of many of the native iOS and Android features. Appmakr is a free service and should only be used as different way to disseminate your blog content.

MobiCart
MobiCart is a must have for those with an online store. As an ever greater number of consumers turn to mobile devices to shop, MobiCart steps in to help you take your online store, mobile. With a simple and intuitive web interface, MobiCart allows you to integrate and customise almost every aspect of your new mobile store. The result is a stunning app which integrates directly with your current online store which has the extra bonus of being free.

Mobile Roadie
Are you in a band and wish that you had a mobile app to better engage your audience? Mobile Roadie solves that problem for you. Used by the likes of Katy Perry, this development tool can create stunning apps which sell songs, tickets and keep fans updated. Apps are built using a drop and drag interface while Mobile Roadie handles the rest. This platform does, however, come with a price; US$499 for the core package.

PhoneGap
PhoneGap allows developers to code apps in HTML and Javascript and still access a phone’s core features. The native APIs allow the integration of features such as offline storage, cameras, geolocation and contacts without having to learn a new language. The software is open source, and is able access APIs for multiple platforms including: iOS, Android, Windows Mobile and Blackberry and Symbian.

Sencha Touch
Sencha takes a different approach to the development of mobile apps. While other tools develop native mobile applications, Sencha Touch provides a Javascript framework to develop web-based apps — which are free to deploy and don’t require App Store approval. The framework provides a set of tools which do a superb job of mimicking the look and feel of native apps. Sencha has created an excellent product which requires nothing more than Javascript and HTML skills. Free for commerical deployments, Sencha Touch is by far the best in its class.

Sencha Touch Introduction

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