Experts predict a 25% increase in app downloads between 2018 and 2022

In the Q1 of 2020, there were 33.6 billion mobile app downloads worldwide.

The mobile app market is ever-expanding as the users’ appetite for apps grows – in fact, studies predict Google Play Store app installs to reach 139 billion alone by 2024.

However, not many businesses have access to the opportunity this market growth brings – or, at least, they are not aware of the paths to it.

With prices exceeding $10,000 for development alone, getting into the app business seems to require a large financial commitment.

The operative word here being “seems to”. Namely, there is a new way to app building and that are the open source and free app builders.

Using open source app building software:

  • Makes coding and app development quicker
  • Is free to download
  • Minimizes licensing and maintenance expenses
  • Comes with abundant support channels
  • Makes scaling and consolidating easier

The open source wave is spreading like wildfire in both app and custom web developments sectors.

Take Velo by Wix for example. This open, full-stack development platform allows brands and development agencies to create advanced websites and web apps at fraction of the cost.

In this article, we will review the best free app builders that can help you build a competitive mobile app cost-effectively and quickly.

But before we dive into it, let’s check which types of mobile apps exist in the first place – so you know which software to use.

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What Is An Open Source App Builder?

An open source app builder is publicly accessible software that developers can access and modify in order to create mobile apps.

Open source app builder’s capabilities to add or remove features or change its functions according to the project requirements allow programmers to create versatile apps for all mobile devices and operating systems.

What Types Of Apps And App Design Software Platforms Are There?

The choice of your free app builders or open source software will depend on the operating system, the features and platform you wish to build an app for.

These are the most popular types of apps:

Native Apps

Native apps use specific programming languages and are designed for particular mobile operating systems and platforms. They are specialized apps that can take advantage of all features on their designated platform.

Web apps act similarly to native apps and are client-server computer programs that require a browser. CSS, JavaScript and HTML5 are the programs that developers use most frequently to create these apps.

Some examples of these web apps are:

These apps can operate on multiple operating systems and platforms and combine the elements of native and web apps. They can contain operating system features and use cross-compatible web technologies.

Cross-platform apps are usually faster to develop than native apps and they need less maintenance.

While they are not as fast as native apps and tend to have more issues and lower quality compared to them, they can gain new functionalities on multiple versions of the app because developers can build them on a single base.

Hybrid apps use software like React Native, Sencha Touch, Ionic and Xamarin.

Best Free App Builders To Use In 2021

Whether you intend to build a native, hybrid or web mobile app, these open-source and free app builders contain the widest array of functionalities and have the best user interface for you to quickly turn your app into reality.

#1: Appy Pie Offers Attractive Templates For Business-Oriented Apps

free app builders: Appy Pie
[Source: Appy Pie]

Wildly popular among developers of simple, business-oriented mobile apps, cloud-hosted Appy Pie requires no programming skills at all.

In fact, this tool’s process of creating appealing and functional apps is the result of the producers’ survey which they used to understand their users’ needs.

As a result of that input, Appy Pie has tons of pre-defined templates and features that provide an enviable level of customization.

Users can integrate photo galleries from image-oriented channels such as Instagram and Flickr to add pizzaz to mobile-friendly website versions in a matter of minutes.

Built-in templates cover a range of different industries, such as dating apps, restaurant apps, church management apps and more.

Key features:

  • Social media integration
  • Push notifications and event calendar
  • Drag and drop feature for building highly customized apps
  • No-code and no technical knowledge required
  • Google Analytics integration for real-time metrics

Supported platforms:

  • Android, iOS

Cost:

Appy Pie is a free app builder. However, there are also three paid versions that come with advanced features:

  • Basic ($18/app/month)
  • Gold ($36/app/month)
  • Platinum ($60/app/month)
Get started with Appy Pie today.
Try Appy Pie

#2: AppMySite Is A Platform For Building Apps Without Coding

AppMySite website
[Source: AppMySite]

AppMySite converts existing websites into mobile apps in a user-friendly environment that doesn't require any development and coding knowledge.

Understanding the importance of apps for businesses, this platform creates native apps for Android and iOS platforms that can be customized according to your brand's identity and visuals.

AppMySite's online app maker promises free app creation in a matter of minutes (plus an upgrade to one of the pricing plans to publish it) and a simple three-step launch.

Key features:

  • No coding needed
  • Premium features
  • Fast app delivery
  • Flexible subscription plans
  • Multi-platform support
  • Social media integration
  • Payment gateway support

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

AppMySite is a free app builder. However, premium options are also available:

  • Starter ($9/month billed annually)
  • Pro ($19/month billed annually)
Get started with AppMySite today.
Try AppMySite

#3: AppstronautME Is A Mobile App Builder That Offers Great Customization Options

AppstronautME website
[Source: AppstronautME]

Using AppstronautME, developers and businesses can create apps within a matter of minutes. The platform requires no coding, however, you can personalize your app’s look and feel by editing its HTML and CSS.

All it takes is creating an account on the platform, uploading your own content and images and then publishing it.

What’s great about this app builder is that it offers great training and support and there is a well developed forum where members share different questions and answers.

Key features:

  • Over 110 templates and 100 features
  • In app purchases
  • Podcasts
  • Push notifications
  • Videos displaying and sharing
  • GPS and locations integration
  • Scanning QR codes

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

AppstronautME is a free app builder that also has paid options:

  • Starter ($99/year)
  • Publisher ($29/month)
  • Publisher+ ($259/year)
  • Lifetime ($697)
Get started with AppstronautME today.
Try AppstronautME

#4: NativeScript Is A Native iOS And Android App Builder

free app builders: Native Script
[Source: Native Script]

NativeScript uses TypeScript, Vue.js and JavaScript for the creation of native Android and iOS mobile apps.

Regarded as one of the best open source frameworks, it’s a suite of professional products and services such as in-person training, performance analysis, troubleshooting reports, performance analysis and coding assistance.

This open source app builder is very handy for building apps for both iOS and Android swiftly because it comes with a set of cross-platform tools.

Key features:

  • Built-in themes
  • Theme builder for visual customizations
  • A huge SCC styling system
  • Platform APIs accessible directly from the code

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

NativeScript is a free app builder.

Get started with NativeScript today.
Try NativeScript

#5: Flutter Is An Open Source App Development Framework

free app builders: Flutter
[Source: Flutter]

As a Google product, a single codebase Flutter develops striking desktop, web and native mobile Android apps.

This open source app development framework is fully free and uses Skia Graphics Engine, Dart, C and C++. It is usable on Linux, MacOS and Windows and applicable to iOS, Android and Google Fuchsia.

Flutter’s intuitive interface and great user experience rely on fully-customizable widgets which make fast development of native apps very easy and quick.

Key features:

  • Very fast rendering and flexible design process
  • Major app items such as fonts, navigation and icons contained in the widgets
  • Foundation library is a major part of this app builder platform

Supported platforms:

  • iOS, Android and Google Fuchsia

Cost:

Flutter is a free app builder.

Get started with Flutter today.
Try Flutter

#6: Felgo Is An Open Source Cross-Platform App Builder

free app builders: Feigo
[Source: Felgo]

A free open source app design software that creates cross-platform apps for mobile platforms as well as Windows and Linux desktop systems.

A single codebase powers this software which is hailed by users as one of the easiest to master. Its time-saving framework and a high-end customer support service rank Felgo highly among app developers of diverse experience.

As it supports 3D modeling, it’s a very useful platform to create games with. User interface rendering reduces the interaction between the native layer and runtime environment.

Key features:

  • Easy to use
  • Bug-free performance
  • Great for business and gaming apps

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

Felgo has a free version for developers on a low budget. However, you can also choose from two paid plans:

  • Startup ($95 per developer/month billed annually)
  • Business ($295 per developer/month billed annually)
Get started with Felgo today.
Try Felgo

#7: Ionic Is An Open Source Hybrid App Builder

free app builders: Iconic
[Source: Ionic]

As a Java Script open source SDK for the development of hybrid mobile apps, Ionic has MIT license to vouch for it. It requires Node.js for installation and creates apps that operate on web code and native code.

The user interface of the app provides full access to native functionalities that allow building applications for Android, iOS and web with a single codebase.

A big community of developers using this tool acts as a support go-to for anyone needing assistance with the tool.

Ionic benefits from a very intuitive interface that makes the development process faster, as well as more than 100 native device features and preset elements

Key features:

  • Easy to learn and use
  • Great integration capacities
  • Has MIT license
  • Allows Cordova-based app building

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

Ionic has a free version but also comes with paid structures.

The app builder has three Appflow plans:

  • Launch ($42/month)
  • Growth ($102/month)
  • Scale (custom pricing)

To get Ionic Enterprise, you should contact the platform for a custom quote.

Get started with Ionic today.
Try Ionic

#8: Xcode Is An iOS-Focused App Builder With Open Source Components

Xcode website
[Source: Xcode]

Apple’s Xcode uses Swift, a programming language that introduced inventive ways to design and create mobile apps by using as little code as possible.

Xcode creates apps for a wide array of Apple products: Mac, iPhone, iPd, Apple TV and even Apple Watch. It has a unified workflow for UI design, coding and testing.

Lively discussion forums, session videos, documentation and step-by-step instructions provide the knowledge-base for developers.

This app builder uses tools such as Interface Builder whose live rendering displays UI code within the design canvas. This reflects the changes you type in code immediately.

Key features:

  • Live mode with multiple previews to observe changes in design
  • Applicable to all Apple platforms
  • Uses simple code with declarative syntax
  • Total control over a coding area and split-screen abilities

Supported platforms:

  • iOS

Cost:

This mobile app builder is free to use. However, joining Apple's developer program and submitting your app to Apple store costs $99 per year.

Get started with Xcode today.
Try Xcode

#9: Android Studio Is A Free App Builder For Android

Android Studio website
[Source: Android Studio]

Google’s Android Studio is an app development software whose implementation editor is fit for Android developers. It provides coding and design shortcuts while the layout editor reduces coding time thanks to its easy to use editor.

Project layouts are using drag and drop functionalities during the design process while the intelligent code editor provides code completion for Java, C, C++ and Kotlin languages.

Android Studio is highly customizable and allows for bespoke coding to generate various build versions for different devices.

Key features:

  • Visual layout editor with complex layouts
  • APK Analyzer that reduces the final app size
  • Fast emulator for testing different configurations and features
  • Build-in profiling tools for real-time stats on CPU, memory and network

Supported platforms:

  • Android

Cost:

Android Studio is a free app builder.

Get started with Android Studio today.
Try Android Studio

#10: Adobe PhoneGap Is A Cross-Platform Open Source App Builder

Adobe PhoneGap website
[Source: Adobe PhoneGap]

This Cordova-based open source, cross-platform app builder lets developers use one code base and multiple sets of tech add-ons.

PhoneGap uses HTML5, JavaScript and CSS for the creation of mobile apps. It relies heavily on the former because it makes apps that are a collection of HTML5 pages in a native app wrapper.

Thanks to a native API, they can be published on native platforms.

The process of creating an app using this software is remarkably similar to creating a website. Developers can store their working files either locally or in the cloud and plugins activate these files when a device runs them.

Key features:

  • Quick debug and build cycles
  • Easy sharing of app prototype with colleagues and clients
  • Enables team collaboration through PhoneGap Build Projects

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

Adobe PhoneGap is an open source app builder that is free to use.

Get started with Adobe PhoneGap today.
Try Adobe PhoneGap

Best Paid App Builders To Use In 2021

#1: Shoutem Provides A No-Coding Open Source App Development Software

Shoutem website
[Source: Shoutem]

Shoutem uses React Native framework for the creation of cross-platform applications. This no-coding software boasts a very favorable user experience, excellent design and a big library of templates.

The drag and drop interface, local testing and native app preview are all part and parcel of this Java Script open source product.

In its toolkit, developers will find over 200 layouts, more than 40 extensions and features that are ready-made, such as APIs, content management system and user authentication.

Key features:

  • Analytics and 3rd party integrations available
  • A library of extensions ready to use
  • Easy and cost-effective maintenance
  • Plenty of helpful documentation and resources
  • Manual push notifications

Supported platforms:

  • Android, iOS

Cost:

This mobile app builder offers three pricing plans:

  • Android only ($49/month billed annually)
  • Standard ($79/month billed annually)
  • Professional ($149/month billed annually)
Get started with Shoutem today.
Try Shoutem

#2: Penguin Apps Builder Is A No-Coding Platform For Small And Medium-Sized Businesses

Penguin Apps Builder
[Source: Penguin Apps Builder]

Using the Penguin Apps Builder, small organizations can build apps for their businesses within minutes.

The platform requires no coding and developers can choose from a number of features to customize their design.

There are 39 templates available that developers can use to create apps for almost every available platform.

Key features:

  • Cross platform
  • Cloud hosting
  • Social networks
  • Loyalty card and discounts
  • Push notifications
  • CRM
  • Booking

Supported platforms:

  • Android, iOS, HTML5

Cost:

Penguin Apps Builder comes with paid versions. You can choose from:

  • Platinum annual subscription ($699/ year)
  • Platinum monthly subscriptions ($70/ month)
  • Gold annual subscriptions ($499.00/year)
  • Gold monthly subscriptions ($50/month)
Get started with Penguin Apps Builder today.
Try Penguin Apps Builder

#3: Boom App Builder Is An Easy To Use And Affordable Platform For Entry Level Developers

Boom App Builder website
[Source: Boom App Builder]

The Boom App Builder is a great option for companies and organizations that want to build native apps but don’t have the experience.

They can simply choose a template, add content and multimedia files and the apps are there.

Users can choose among different templates, including Christmas, restaurant, celebrity news, taxi and blog apps, among others.

Key features:

  • In-app purchases
  • Push notifications
  • PDF Editor
  • Syncing
  • Social media
  • RSS Feed Reader

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

Boom App Builder offers subscription-based plans:

  • Basic ($7/month for one platform)
  • Plus ($17/month for three platforms)
  • Premium ($27/month for five premium apps)
  • Business ($47/month for unlimited premium apps)
  • Agency ($197/year for unlimited premium apps)
Get started with Boom App Builder today.
Try Boom App Builder

#4: MobiLoud Is A Platform That Works With Any Site Or Web App

MobiLoud website
[Source: MobiLoud]

MobiLoud is a great choice for brands and publishers that want to improve the experience of their users and drive higher traffic.

They can easily convert their websites into native mobile apps at a fraction of the traditional app development cost.

The tool requires no coding, so you can launch your app in under 2 weeks.

Key features:

  • Payment gateways
  • Push notifications
  • WordPress integration
  • Great support
  • Fully customizable

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

MobiLoud pricing starts at $80/month

Get started with MobiLoud today.
Try MobiLoud

#5: Swiftic Is A Mobile App Builder With An Easy-To-Navigate Interface

Swiftic website
[Source: Swiftic]

Swiftic is a great solution for small businesses, allowing them to build, publish, promote and manage their apps from one single dashboard.

The app builder offers profitable features like coupons and loyalty cards to help you keep your customers coming back.

You can also customize each aspect of your app’s appearance so that you keep it consistent with your branding.

Key features:

  • Push notifications
  • Loyalty cards
  • Ordering and deliveries
  • In-app coupons
  • Scratch cards
  • Scheduling
  • Customer engagement
  • Social and media feeds
  • App promotion
  • Advanced analytics

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

Swiftic is a paid tool that offers three pricing plans:

  • Monthly ($57/month)
  • Yearly ($33/month)
  • 2 years ($29/month)
Get started with Swiftic today.
Try Swiftic

#6: Buildfire Is An App Building Tool With A Free 14 Day Trial

free app builders: Buildfire
[Source: Buildfire]

A customizable app design tool, Buildfire is good for developing Android, iOS and web mobile applications.

This app builder supports over 10,000 apps. It is lauded among users for first-class custom development capacities. Its flexibility lets it scale and follow your business growth.

It has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface that makes it convenient for rookie developers as well as seasoned experts. Combining it with third-party software is easy thanks to API and pre-built integrations.

Key features:

  • App building software with no coding needed
  • Plenty of advanced development features
  • Social networking capabilities
  • Third-party integrations and building of custom functionalities

Supported platforms:

  • Android and iOS

Cost:

  • Growth ($159/month)
  • Business ($299/month)
  • Enterprise ($494/month)
Get started with Buildfire today.
Try Buildfire

A Paid Or Free App Builder: Which Option Is Better For You

Whether you are a developer or a business, choosing between a paid or free app builder option can be a tricky process.

Looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both versions can make your choice easier.

The biggest advantage of free app builders is that they are budget-friendly. So, both developers and small businesses with limited resources can use them without breaking the bank.

Most of them require no or limited coding knowledge as well.

However, the biggest disadvantage of free app builders is that they usually come with limited features and functionalities including the lack of customization.

Other drawbacks are:

  • Poor synchronization
  • No promotion capabilities
  • Security issues
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Paid mobile app builders, on the other hand, usually come with premium features that businesses need to ensure an engaging experience, retain their visitors and drive more purchases.

They offer great personalization capabilities and developers can choose from large libraries of templates.

Additionally, they enjoy robust security and offer various online promotion options that businesses can leverage to market their apps.

The bottom line: You should use a free app builder when:

  • You are on a tight budget and cannot afford to invest in a premium version
  • You need a very simple application with minimal functionalities
  • You aren’t planning to make major modifications in the future
  • You only want to test an app and develop it afterwards using a more robust platform
  • The tool offers the type of features you need
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How To Find The Right Open Source And Free App Building Software For You

As we’ve seen, each of the open source and free app builders comes with its own set of unique functions and advantages. So, how do you decide on just one and be certain you won’t regret the decision?

  • Consider software architecture: Define core functionalities your app should have and which of these are easy and which are hard to implement. Then check if the open source app builder lets you build the architecture you want.
  • Make sure support and maintenance are sufficient: You should be able to support your product adequately and fix code defects when it launches.
  • Look for developer experience: Find testimonials on software use by other developers. Was it hard for them to get used to it? How easy it is to build new features or import foreign code?
  • Learn about the tool's software integration capabilities: Can the platform integrate with external and 3rd party products? Does it come with built-in tools?
  • Think about business-level compatibilities: Consider the prospective app development software in the bigger picture that is your business. Can other programs you use integrate with this software?
  • Think about security: Does the app design software you’re considering have a certificate of safety or any other compliance standards? Does it use authentication and authorization?
  • Consider your audience: The target geography of the app and other demographic factors such as age play a role in the selection process whether you should make an iOS or Android app. This, again, narrows down the selection of app development software.
  • Regard the features: Every mobile app development platform has features that are proprietary to that platform. Think in terms of how this will limit or enhance the final app product that you built using that software.
  • Think about ROI: What is the cost of the platform and does the platform vendor have long term viability?

Takeaways On Paid & Free App Builders

Which of these, paid open source and free app builders you will choose depends on the level of development expertise you have, platforms you’re building them for and features you wish to implement.

All of them have user-friendly interfaces, pre-build templates and libraries of features that save time. A good deal of these app development programs even come with no coding required.

If you are unsure of developing the app yourself, you can always turn to specialized mobile app development agencies that can deliver a top-notch product for your business.

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