BARCELONA, Spain--Developing good apps for iPhone or Android normally takes a lot of skill and potentially tens of thousands of dollars. But with new service AppMachine, shown off here at Mobile World Congress, you're able to build good looking apps with zero programming knowledge for only 400 euros (around $525) that you can then submit to the iOS or Android app stores.
The app development system is mostly browser-based. When you first sign up you'll need to choose a name for your app and an appropriate theme for the sort of app you're making. It's very similar to the simplistic style of Tumblr blogs, and takes about as much skill.
Adding different types of content is done by choosing one of 20 building blocks, including photos, Facebook interaction, maps, and contact pages. You can upload locally stored content to the app, but the best way to use it is with RSS feeds that can constantly pull in content from your blog, Facebook page, Flickr accounts or various other sources.
Once your content is in place, you have various customization tools at your disposal. You're able to change the overall theme if your original choice doesn't suit, change color schemes and image layout options. It's free to build your app up until the point of publishing, so if you're not happy with the look, you haven't wasted a penny.
If you want more control, a designer option is available. It lets you customize buttons, and have a greater variety of options for tweaking the layout. The designer option costs 699 euros, but you're able to get a much more personalized app out of it.
When your app is all finished, AppMachine will then take you through the process of submitting your finished product to the app stores. The price doesn't include the 99 euros you'll need to pay for an iOS developer license, but even with that added cost, the total app price is still much cheaper than having apps built by a professional developer.
It's still probably not something the average iPad user will want to shell out for, but it could be an affordable option for small-business owners, store owners, or professional photographers who want to showcase their wares in app form without shelling out thousands for the privilege. It's opening up to the public in the next few weeks.