The Best App Maker and Development Solutions of 2020

Mona Bushnell
, Writer
| Updated
Jan 02, 2019

The Best App Maker & Development Solution Comparisons

Customers want to interact with businesses, including small businesses, through convenient mobile apps, but most SMB don’t have in-house app developers on the payroll. Luckily, there are lots of affordable app creation software services targeted towards small and medium-sized businesses. SaaS companies in the app maker category aim to do for SMB what visual website designers did for companies back in the day.  

Using app creation software allows you to create customized consumer and employee-facing apps without becoming a master-coder. Our best picks include Zoho Creator, iBuild App, Appy Pie and IntellectSoft. You can learn more about each of them below, or scroll down to read our reviews of all our top-rated app makers.

Best Picks

Zoho Creator
Zoho Creator
Best App Maker for Small Businesses


Read our reviews of app maker software and service solutions.

Editor's note: Looking for a mobile app development solution? Fill out the questionnaire below and our vendor partners will contact you about your needs.

What to Expect in 2019

What’s on the horizon for app creation software? Experts predict higher adoption rates among small businesses, primarily out of necessity. Millennial consumers want to interact with businesses via app or chat rather than on the phone or on a non-mobile friendly website. As millennials increase their earning power, SMB have to consider the way they communicate with the highly tech-dependent generation, and apps are a part of that for both millennial customers and employees.  

SaaS app creation companies will continue to court SMB by adding easy integration options to their offering of features and by fine-tuning the drag-and-drop interface that’s become popular for no-code app creation. 


App creation can be affordable with a template service. Many no-code app builders offer free trials or free versions, and nearly all offer a money-back guarantee for a certain period of time. In general, the more you pay for service, the more features you will have available to you to create a professional-looking app.

Here's a basic price range and what you can expect to get with app-making software. One thing to note with the pricing of most apps is it's a monthly fee but it's billed annually. If you prefer to pay monthly, not annually, (if the service will let you; not all will), you can expect to pay more.

  • Free to $15 a month: Template-built apps are available for $15 a month or less. Subscriptions at this level often remove advertisements and are compatible with one OS platform.
  • $30 a month: This is the minimum subscription level we recommend for most SMBs. At around the $30 monthly price range, most app software companies offer cross-platform designs that run on Android and iOS, an ad-free experience, and decent app distribution.
  • $50 to $150 a month: Most software app companies have an upper tier that falls within this range. Such subscription levels typically include full cross-platform designs that can run on any OS (including on Amazon devices), access to all major app stores, additional editing capabilities and add-on features.
  • More than $150 a month: Only a few app software companies offer app subscriptions at this service level, but those that do offer robust packages that often include features like the ability to create internal and external apps, manage multiple apps in one place, access advanced admin controls, added security features, and more.
  • If you go the route of custom app creation (through a service), the best bet is to request a price quote from multiple providers.

Other Fees

In addition to the monthly subscription fees, other fees may apply. Both Apple and Google charge a fee if you offer your native app on the App Store or Google Play. Apple charges a $99 developer fee each year, plus you'll have to register as a developer through Apple. Google charges a $25 one-time fee, so the good news is you won't have to pay this fee again if you submit another app to Play. If you charge consumers for your app, Google and Apple take an additional percentage of your sales (30 percent) after your app is published.

Other fees to be aware of come from the app makers themselves. Some, like GoodBarber, charge a review fee if you're submitting an app to the App Store. This is in response to Apple's recent policy. Not all platforms charge this fee, so be sure to ask the service you're considering if they charge a review fee. Another aspect is that despite paying subscription fees, review costs, etc., some platforms state they're not responsible if Apple or Google rejects your app. So it is possible that you could spend a lot of time and money developing an app that could be ultimately rejected. Check with the app maker you're considering to learn more about their app review policy.

If you create a PWA, app developer fees, review fees, etc., don't apply. That is one of the appealing aspects of PWAs.

One final issue to be aware of is that with many app builders when you cancel your subscription, your app is deactivated. Some companies store your app for a certain time if you choose to reactivate it, but, again, this policy varies from service to service. Be sure to ask the companies you're strongly considering using about their cancellation policy and choose accordingly.

How Do App Makers Work?

Mobile app builders, which live in the cloud, are targeted to smaller screens and support the two major cross-platform mobile operating systems. These apps involve monthly subscription costs, but, overall, they are much cheaper and inherently more flexible than hiring a developer to create and maintain a customized app.

A native mobile app will almost always provide a better, potentially more profitable experience, but progressive web apps, or PWAs, which are HTML5 websites functioning as mobile apps, are gaining in popularity.

Small business owners wanting to make an app wrestle with a number of tough questions: Where do you start? What is the best technology for creating a mobile app? How much will it cost? Can I make an app even if I don't have any coding skills?

To make an app for your small business, there are two primary routes available to you. You can either purchase a subscription to app software that allows for no-code, template-style app design and quick deployment, or you can hire an app-creation service for a truly custom design.

State of the Industry

Though still young, the app builder software industry is robust and varied. Thanks to an influx of companies offering template-style, drag-and-drop app design, even busy entrepreneurs and small business owners who wear multiple hats can create custom-branded mobile apps and responsive websites.

Larger businesses with more resources also use app-development solutions, but many opt for hiring development firms instead, which is significantly more expensive. Despite the increase in affordable, online app-building tools, custom app-creation companies are thriving. This is likely because the business consumers who take advantage of low-cost template app builders would not have opted for custom development if those inexpensive app builders didn't exist. For many SMBs, a custom app created by a team of highly skilled developers is simply too expensive and time-consuming.

That said, while clients with modest needs are best served by no-code software options, businesses with significant security concerns, the need for complex suites of apps, advanced administrative controls, advanced analytics and even consulting services are better off sticking to a development firm.

Another reason some business owners opt for a custom developer is the constantly changing guidelines for admission to app stores, especially the Apple App Store.

In 2017, Apple updated its guidelines, which significantly impacted third-party app makers and a lot of businesses that had created apps with these services. In essence, Apple rejected or banned apps that had been created from commercialized templates or app-maker platforms. Apple's attempt was to eliminate clone and spam apps, but the change ended up affecting a lot of small businesses and wiping them from the App store. Since then, however, many app-maker platforms have made changes to their service, including reviewing your app prior to it being submitted to Apple and/or Google. Unfortunately, though, many companies increased their monthly subscription fees to accommodate this service, and there is a chance that Apple may still reject your app.

Companies like Apple and Google wield tremendous power, and they are free to create any guidelines they want. In fact, even a simple revision in the way something is worded can cause huge waves across the entire app creation, so it's vital to work with a company that is constantly assessing new guidelines as they are added and changing its approach to increase the odds of app store acceptance. If you go with an app platform, find out how the application process works (will they do it, or do you have to?) and what, if any, guarantees they make.

About Progressive Web Apps

You might have heard of progressive web apps, and over the next few years, the popularity of PWAs will surely grow.

A PWA is simply a mobile app that is delivered through the web. It's a website that displays as an app. It allows you to deliver an app-like experience but through your browser. Consumers visiting your site are prompted to install your PWA, which shows up as an icon on the home screen of the user's phone. A PWA looks and feels like a native app, but without sapping your data plan or space on your phone.

So, does your business need a PWA? The answer is tricky, because it depends on a few factors.

Here are some of the pros and cons of PWAs.


  • PWAs display seamlessly on all devices, whether it's a desktop, smartphone or tablet, and they load far more quickly than native apps
  • Because they use HTML 5, they are nearly universally compatible
  • You can send push notifications to consumers, which is a great way to keep your target audience engaged
  • You bypass developer fees to Apple and Google, plus you don't have to deal with the hassle (and frustration) of submitting an app to both companies.


  • Not all web browsers support it. Internet Explorer, Safari and Edge don't support PWAs
  • PWAs can be buggy, both for Android and iOs. For instance, with Android, there can be support issues, and iOS doesn't support notifications and shortcut prompting on users' home screens (it's estimated iOS devices comprise 50 percent of the mobile market – that's a big market that can't use your PWA).
  • Because your app isn't found in the App Store or Google Play, consumers may have a harder time finding you.
  • The transition is slow. Many consumers haven't caught on to using PWAs

If you need an app for iOS or you simply can't afford to miss out on the iOS market, go with a native app. If your app is pretty simple and straightforward, or you simply want to be on the cutting edge, consider going with a PWA. Consumers are getting choosier about the apps they download and install, and the appeal of PWAs is growing.

Negotiation Tips

Negotiation tips are not required for entrepreneurs who go the app builder software route, because pricing is a fixed subscription price based on the features you want for your app.

If you hire an app-making service, though, keep these three things in mind:

  • Create a comprehensive list of features you want your app to have. Include details like which platforms it needs to work on and other programs or apps it needs to integrate with.
  • Request price quotes from at least three different app-creation companies.
  • If your business has any unusual requirements, like specific security needs or apps that work together in a suite, include that information with your request.

It's likely the service will suggest additional features. To stay on track and on budget, don't be afraid to ask the developer how difficult it may be to add the feature later. In many cases, designers and developers are simply offering you every option they have, many of which can be incorporated later if you require additional functionality in the future. You don't want too many features (that you don't need) when you first launch your app and overpay for your end product.

Choosing the Best App Maker Software

When deciding which software program will help you build the best app, pay attention to four areas: content creation, distribution, customer engagement and customer support.

Content Creation 

The best mobile app builder interface is a matter of personal preference: Some are clean and simple; others are packed with features. Most interfaces use drag-and-drop functionality; some do not.

Pick an interface that feels right to you; one in which you don't feel overwhelmed by the software's features or, conversely, become frustrated by a lack of tools. Many applications offer a free trial, which allows you to test the software to see if it delivers what you're looking for.

Most app generators advertise that anyone can use them – even if you don't have any programming experience. Of the software we reviewed, most programs are pretty easy to understand, and a novice without any coding experience can build a decent app. If you have programming experience or specific imaging needs, you may want an app builder that allows you to input and manipulate code.

Distribution (Specifically OS Compatibility) 

Make sure that the app creator you choose can generate cross-platform iterations. This means that you design the app, and the software translates it for iOS, Android or Windows platforms. Verify compatibility with the mobile app builder.

Engaging Your Consumers

The end goal of creating an app, of course, is to get it into the hands of consumers who will download it and consistently use it. That difficult job is still the responsibility of the app creator to keep the app relevant and make it a permanent fixture on someone's phone or tablet.

If you utilize more than a landing page, an RSS feed will be your best friend. Content published on your desktop site is transferred directly to your app. Push notifications should be expected, so these app-designing programs have focused on more efficient means of reaching an audience.

Push notifications are now geotargeting marketing tools. Based on your app analytics, you can send notifications to people in a certain region or to a particular operating system. The market has advanced so quickly that geotargeting is commonplace in the app industry. It's all part of helping you find the most receptive audience.

Help and Support 

When learning how to use app creation software, customer service and support is important. The app makers we evaluated all offered extensive knowledgebases with tutorials, frequently asked questions and online manuals.

Most of the companies list an email and phone number to contact the technical support team. Some services have live chat that put you in direct contact with a technical support agent.


To narrow down the best app builders, we surveyed dozens of reputable companies that have been in business for several years and were backed with positive customer reviews. After surveying the various subscription tiers, we focused on the mid-tier subscription plans, which have more tools for creating, distributing and marketing your app.

Next, we began building our app. We tested the customization features of each app builder, checking whether it offered any industry-specific themes. We also checked whether you could add your own images and logos to the app.

Not every platform we tested provides a high level of customization. Most, but not all, app builders allow you to upload your own logo without paying extra fees.

Our app was based on a version of our website with an emphasis on quick links for contact information, social media pages and coupons. The app we created was largely static. The next phase of our testing involved scrutinizing the tools each app builder offers that lets you add content to your app.

What You See Is What You Get in App Design

One of the most intimidating aspects about designing an app yourself is coding: Do you need to know how to code or is it best to hire a professional to design your app for you? With app-making software, though, the process is relatively simple.

With most platforms, you input content using the program's content management system, thereby bypassing coding. For people who have some familiarity with coding, most of the app builders we evaluated let you create or edit the program's code to customize it to your company (which isn't necessarily a bad thing; instead, it's a convenience intended for prospective app builders with some coding experience and who want more functionality with the software).

Rather than entering strings of code, most platforms provide a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) approach. This means that every change you make to your app through the software's dashboard, whether it's adding images or uploading content, shows up in real time on the respective app preview screen. All of the HTML coding happens behind the scenes.

These companies don't want to confuse novice app creators. Instead, the process of building each page for your app typically involves dragging and dropping icons or elements from the dashboard into the app preview page.

For the next phase of our evaluation process, we focused on the tools that made it possible to create an app quickly. In terms of customization, we checked whether there were multiple layouts available to design your app as well as the option of creating your app from scratch. We evaluated the themes and graphics in each program plus whether we could (and, if so, how easy it was to) add our own custom logo.

We also checked whether the program offered a walk-through or a wizard that guides users – especially a novice – through the program and instructs them how to use it.

If the thought of dozens of design tools is overwhelming, don't worry. We sought out software that does most of the behind-the-scenes work for you, especially with assisting you with submitting your app to Apple's App Store and Google Play, and helping you creating a page about your app.

Once your app is widely available, you'll want to stay up to date on its popularity and find out who your main customer demographic is that's downloading your app. All of the software programs on our list offer analytics, though it varies by each service.

Some software offers its own proprietary analytics, while others integrate with Google Analytics, like and Appy Pie. While both options effectively alert you to who is using your site, we found that the programs that offer both provide more in-depth analysis.

Common App Maker and Development Solution Questions & Answers

Have an app maker or development solution question of your own?

I will make my response brief, but hopefully useful. Once you have established your primary market/business differentiator than building an app that allows your customers to tap into that resource (bargain prices, information or whatever) will increase your stickiness. It demonstrates what your company is committed to and that you have streamlined access to it for their convenience.

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You can do it yourself but you have to be realistic. I recommend using the lean methodology and build your MVP (minimum viable product) first. Look at your list of features and divide them into two columns, what you need now and what can wait until version 1.2. It seems like you have a well-balanced skill set and you should be able to implement design and marketing easily. Your problem at the moment is development. I can tell you that the new Xcode and iOS8 has thrown me a few curve balls....

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Well, the best way is the simplest way that you can follow. You should first figure out what different type of users your app is having, like in case of a grocery delivery app you shall have end users (ordering grocery), suppliers, admins and even delivery guys. Then you define how the app works of each kind of user, like signup via fb, search bar to explore nearby grocery shops, create an order, add to cart and so on. Do the same for other users and that should be sufficient for an app...

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Like anything, the quality of the product will be reflected in the price tag. There are developers who will claim they can make you an app for $1,000, and perhaps they can, but how good will that app truly be? Is that app tested across multiple devices? Is it offshored to developers with barely any experience developing? Is it native or non-native? Does the developer even understand your business needs? This is probably the most important thing to consider when talking about low quotes: Most...

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Hello Robert, Cost estimation - whether you are developing website, app, or software - depends on technology, expertise, and feature requirements. Hence, it is impossible to give an idea of app development cost without insights of app features, platform (iOS, Android, or both), and timeline. The cost of yearly updation and compliance testing also needs to be added. In case you wish to add new app features, then, it would come at a additional cost. In short, there are a lot of things...

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You should look up our product, ClockIt: We are easily one of the few tools that have a vast majority of the features that are otherwise spread across multiple tools. Our simply pricing is tailored towards small and medium businesses. We also include all features in the same pricing tier and do not feature gate anything.

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Currently, Hybrid apps have a clear advantage over native apps since they make the life of the developers more easier due to their "Code Once, Read Anywhere" protocol without any extra effort. Such hybrid apps run on both iOS and Android platforms and the same code can be utilized for the development of progressive web apps. Some of the best cross-platform mobile app development tools are: Phone Gap: Apache Cordova is the main player among the list as it enables to develop the best...

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