Barely a day goes by that some company doesn't pitch me on its mobile application developer tools. It shows just how hot the market has become.
I'm not a programmer, but when I got the announcement that iBuildApp now supports Android as well as iOS, I thought I'd dabble a bit. The sales pitch is that anybody can create an app with their tools for free, after all. The company asserts that 10,000 people have already used it.
Not every app is necessarily great, though, and unfortunately, I found iBuildApp's tool unsatisfying. It was workable but pokey and not very sophisticated. It offers a few templates to get started, then presents some prebuilt icons you can drag onto a virtual phone screen. The closest thing to programming is filling out the fields to connect the icons to blog RSS feeds, map locations, Web addresses, and the like, so you needn't be intimidated by coding difficulties.
Maybe it's just at an awkward phase of transition, but I couldn't build anything but an iPhone app, though the first step in the process included an Android phone. That's too bad, because I have an Android phone, and Android apps can be tested easily without having to go through some kind of app store.
Still, I find the idea intriguing. If you're a local real estate agent, a mom-and-pop bakery, a community group, or a budding photographer, maybe an app could help you stay in touch with customers or other folks. I could see it being useful for a rough-and-ready tourist guidebook, too.
Given how many thousands of other apps you're vying with when it comes to getting attention, I wouldn't count on it boosting sales, but I doubt it would hurt.
iBuildApp isn't done yet; the service has only been live for a few months. On the Android side, the company plans to add new options to its tools that will let app users take advantage of a phone's camera, location awareness, and text-messaging ability.
The company offers its tools for free but charges $199 if you want it to handle the chore of submitting it to an app store. In addition, people who don't have a Mac and therefore can't use the company's application loader tool can spend $20 more to have iBuildApp build the binary version of the software for uploading.