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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Regarded 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.
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.
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 so on.
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 app with. User interface rendering reduces the interaction between the native layer and runtime environment.
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
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.
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 Inteface Builder whose live rendering displays UI code within the design canvas. This reflects the changes you type in code immediately.
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.
This Cordova-based open source, cross-platform app builder lets developers use one code base and multiple set of tech add-ons.
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.
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.
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?
Which of these 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.