What’s the Difference Between iOS and Android Development?

iOS and Android are the two most popular smartphone operating systems worldwide. So if you’re making mobile apps, you need to decide if you’re going to build for iOS, Android, or both.

Most people understand this concept at a basic level—iOS and Android are different. But exactly how are they different?

That’s why we created this guide. 

Whether you’re a prospective developer, entrepreneur, or just a tech-savvy business user that wants to further your knowledge, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll cover everything you need to know about iOS and Android, including a clear explanation of each platform and the key differences between them.

What is iOS Mobile App Development?

iOS app development refers to mobile apps for Apple’s mobile operating system. iOS apps run on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices. 

Apple has various operating systems for its devices. For example, applications built for Mac computers run on macOS. There is even an iOS variant, iPodOS, that’s specifically for iPads.

iOS development caters specifically to the unique device specifications and security requirements of Apple’s mobile operating system. 

What is Android App Development?

Android app development is the process of making mobile applications that run on the Android operating system. 

Android (developed by Google), has a wide range of devices that run using this OS. The list of brands includes Samsung, Google, Motorola, OnePlus, Sony, and thousands more.

In fact, there are more than 24,000 different types of devices that use the Android operating system, distributed by roughly 1,300 companies. 

11 Key Differences Between iOS and Android Apps

Android and iOS are different in many ways. Below we’ll cover the top 11 key differences between the two mobile operating systems dominating the global market share.

1. Programming Languages

iOS and Android are powered by different backend tech stacks. 

Swift and Objective-C are the two main programming languages used to code iOS apps. Swift is designed specifically for Apple products and is typically not used for anything beyond iOS development. 

Android apps generally rely on Java and Kotlin programming languages. But Java also has use cases that work beyond Android devices. So if you’re a developer that’s familiar with Java, there’s an easier bridge to coding for Android. 

Check out our guide on the best programming languages for mobile app development to learn more about all of these languages and more. 

2. Design Strategy

When comparing iOS vs. Android, you’ll also notice some crucial differences between the way apps are designed. 

Apple favors app content over design. So you’ll see more white space used to highlight app-specific features and clarity. iOS developers should refer to Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines for best practices.

When designing for Android devices, you’ll have a bit more flexibility with color changes, motion, and light. The design guidelines aren’t quite as strict. 
Android developers can refer to the Material Design for Android to learn more about the interaction design and motion between Android devices.

3. Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Android and Apple both have different IDEs—integrated development environments. 

Android developers can create an Android app using Android Studio, which was initially developed by Google back in 2013.  

This is the official IDE for Android app development. It’s built on IntelliJ IDEA software from JetBrains and available to download on Linux, Windows, Chrome and macOS operating systems. 

iOS developers rely on Xcode.

Xcode is Apple’s official IDE for all Apple software, including iOS. You can use Xcode to build apps for iOS, macOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and watchOS.

Unlike Android Studio, Xcode is only compatible with macOS. So you can’t download it on your Linux or Windows machine. 

We have a complete Xcode tutorial that explains how it works and how to get started with iOS app development

So which IDE is better—Android Studio or Xcode?

Each software has its pros and cons. Android Studio is a bit more versatile for developers who already have experience creating apps for other operating systems. But Xcode is easier to set up for beginners.

Both platforms have excellent debugging features, although Xcode might have the edge in this category. Android studio’s advanced code editor and layout design features might be more popular, although some users complain that it takes up too much memory on their devices. 

4. Devices

When it comes to iOS devices, you’re basically just talking about different versions of the iPhone. You can put iPads and iPod Touch devices into this category as well. 

But the list of Android devices is significantly larger.

As mentioned earlier, there are more than 24,000 different Android devices. Since the first iPhone launched back in 2007, there have been less than 40 different versions of this device for iOS.  

5. App Distribution

Each platform has its own app store for distribution.

iOS apps can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, and Android Apps can be downloaded from the Google Play Store. 

For more information, check out our step-by-step guide on publishing your app to the app store. 

Android apps are better if you want to distribute your app to the widest possible audience. But iOS has some cool developer programs for app testing and distributing private apps. 

Additional Reading: How to Distribute an iOS App Without Using App Stores

6. User Base

Android users and iOS users are different.

In the United States, there’s about an even split between the two operating systems. As of January 2022, iOS has a slight edge—controlling 51.2% of the US mobile OS market share

But with a whopping 87% market share, Android dominates globally. 

So if you’re on the fence about developing for iOS or Android, one of the first things you need to do is assess your target market. If you’re developing it for people in the US, you’ll likely need to build for both platforms. But if you’re developing for an international audience, excluding the US, you can stick with Android. 

7. Monetization Strategy

Studies suggest that iPhone users earn more money than Android users. In fact, the median household income of an iPhone user is $85,000, compared to $61,000 for Android.

This is important information to consider when you’re looking for ways to monetize your app

Since iPhone users may have more buying power, you can factor in things like in-app purchases with iOS development. 

But Android developers may need to focus more on other ways to make money, such as in-app advertising. 

8. App Store Rules and Submission Guidelines

Apple and Android have different processes for vetting apps.

Generally speaking, the Apple App Store is much stricter than the Google Play Store. 

Poor quality apps and apps that aren’t very creative can still be published on Google Play. But Apple prioritizes quality and security. 

For example, you can’t just take the mobile version of your website and turn it into an app for the Apple App Store. Apple requires the app to have distinct features and differences from your website. 

Make sure you check out the App Store Review Guidelines before you submit your app to Apple. It’s a long document, but it clearly outlines all of the rules you need to follow. 

Aside from the rules, your app will appear differently in both stores. This means you may need to have a different app name, description, visuals, and other marketing promos for each store.

We have a guide on app store optimization that explains this in greater detail. 

It’s also worth noting that the Apple App Store approval process typically takes a few days, while Google Play only takes a few hours. 

9. App Security

The Apple App Store is generally safer than the Google Play Store. This is directly tied to Apple’s strict standards for submission and scrutiny of apps that don’t meet the standards. 

There are significantly more apps with malware on the Play Store vs. the App Store. 

That’s why it’s so important to have a secure app development method. This will not only protect your business, but also your users. If you create your app with BuildFire, you can rest easy knowing that everything is secure on the backend—regardless of the app store it’s on.

10. App Development Timeline

Generally speaking, Android development is more complex than iOS development. This has a direct correlation with the total development timeline.

Android developers need to account for a wider range of devices and screen sizes. Whereas Apple is much more limited.

Aside from having to adjust the graphics for more devices, Android developers also have to run tests and catch bugs on more devices. This is a time-consuming process.

While it obviously varies based on the type of app you’re building and the features you want, most Android apps take about 30% to 40% longer to launch than iOS apps.

Additional Reading: How to Launch an App Fast

11. Total Cost of Development

Longer timelines generally translate to higher costs. 

That’s why it usually costs more money to create an Android app vs. iOS app.

But again, there are lots of factors at play when you’re thinking about your app budget and total cost of development. 

As you can see from the graph above, the average cost of a complex app using developers in Eastern Europe would be cheaper than creating a basic app using developers in North America.

The average cost of iOS developers in North America is about $150 compared to $168 for Android. Both of those numbers drop to about $35 per hour when outsourced overseas. 

Using BuildFire for iOS and Android App Development

BuildFire is the ultimate solution for cross-platform apps. Rather than developing two separate apps for iOS and Android, you can use BuildFire to create both with a single build.

As a no-code app builder, BuildFire makes it possible for anyone to create an app without any technical skills or programming knowledge.

This helps you get your app to market as quickly as possible and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. 

Unlike other app builders on the market, BuildFire is developer-friendly. This means you can create custom functionality and scale limitlessly, so you’ll never outgrow the platform.

BuildFire also offers in-house development services. So if you want to outsource the project completely or just outsource a few custom features, we can handle whatever you need.

Final Thoughts on iOS Apps and Android Mobile Apps

Android and iOS development are very different. 

But most of you need to have an app available on both platforms. Rather than learning how to write code in multiple languages and navigate the difficult waters of platform-specific IDEs, you can just use a no-code app maker like BuildFire to simplify your project.

Sign up for a 14-day free trial to get started today, or reach out to our team for more information. 

App Maker Buying Guide (2022)

If you want to create mobile apps without writing code, an app maker is your best option. 

An app builder makes it easy for business owners and entrepreneurs to create apps at a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. You can also get your app to market quickly, in days or weeks, as opposed to months or years. 

There’s just one problem—the marketplace is flooded with different app makers. Finding the best app maker for your and your unique situation can be challenging, especially if you’ve never gone through this process. 

That’s why we created this guide. You can use the criteria below to evaluate the best app builders by weeding out the bad options and narrowing down the serious contenders. 

What is an App Maker?

App maker software is designed to create mobile apps without any code. Anyone can use an app builder to create their own app for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Historically, mobile app development required specialized skills and developers. Only those who were fluent in writing code in specific programming languages could create an application. Those who didn’t possess these skills either had to learn them or hire people to create the app. 

But app makers bridge the gap to app development for non-technical users. 

All of the technical specifications of the app are handled on the backend of the software. You just need to tell the app builder what features and functions you want included in the app using drag-and-drop technology or plugins.

Some of you reading this right now are already familiar with how this works. Lots of small business owners and entrepreneurs use website builders to power their sites. App makers use the exact same concept, except the end result is a mobile app instead of a website. 

Check out our list of the best app building software to see some examples. 

Benefits of Using an App Maker to Create Mobile Apps

Why should you use an app maker? 

There are significant advantages to using an app builder compared to traditional development. Examples include:

  • No coding or technical skills required
  • You don’t need to hire and manage a development team
  • Faster path to app launch
  • It’s much cheaper to use an app maker
  • There’s virtually no learning curve
  • You can work on your app from anywhere without downloading software
  • It’s easier to make changes and update the app
  • All of the backend infrastructure is managed for you
  • Build for iOS and Android at the same time

Overall, app makers provide a faster and stress-free development experience—saving you tens of thousands of dollars.

Just be aware that if you’re planning to build a gaming app, VR/AR app, or app that’s highly graphics intensive, an app maker might not be the best option to consider. But for any other type of mobile app, app builders get the job done great and your end-users won’t know the difference. 

What to Look For in an App Builder

There are certain factors you should be using to evaluate app makers and compare them side-by-side. Use the criteria below as a buying guide to help you determine if a prospective app builder meets the specifications for your project and needs:

Simplicity

The first thing you need to consider is the ease of use. That’s one of the main reasons you’re considering this method for your mobile app.

If it’s going to take you weeks or months just to learn how the app development platform works, then the software is likely too complicated.

Don’t get me wrong. An app maker is like any other piece of software. There’s going to be a slight learning curve the first few times you’re using it. Even Facebook or Instagram took a few sessions for you to learn where everything was on the app.

Finding an intuitive app builder with a user-friendly interface needs to be a priority. So take advantage of any free trials offered by the platform to get a feel for how it works. You’ll know within a week or two if the software can accommodate your needs or if it’s just too complex for your skill level.

Cost

There will obviously be a cost variation between the platforms you’re considering. Even within a specific platform, you’ll likely see different subscription options—each with more features and functions at different tiers.

Don’t like price alone drive your decision. Instead, look at the value you’re getting.

For example, you might find an app builder on the market for $200 per month and another one for $350. But if the $200 plan only lets you create an Android app and you want to build for iOS and Android, then that’s useless for your project. 

The best app makers let you create a mobile app for iOS, Android, tablets, and PWA (progressive web apps). They also come with app analytics, built-in security, access to premium plugins, push notifications, and more. 

You should also consider the level of service and support you’re getting if you need some help or want something customized. You’re probably not going to get that from a free app builder. So spending a little bit more today can actually help you out tremendously in the long run. 

Features and Functionality

What type of app are you building? What do you want your app to do?

You need to know the answer to these questions as you’re comparing platforms. 

Let’s say you want to create a mobile app to manage memberships for your gym. Or maybe you’re creating an app for internal employee communication. Does the no-code app builder you’re considering have the functionality you need to make this possible?

Don’t just look at what your app will be when it launches. You also need to make sure the app builder offers the functionality you need as your app grows down the road.

BuildFire has more than 150+ plugins that you can use to easily add features to your app with a single click. From appointment scheduling to videos, maps, push notifications, and more, we have you covered.

The best part about BuildFire, compared to other app makers, is its limitless functionality.

If you have a unique or custom feature idea that isn’t available in our plugin marketplace, it’s no problem—our in-house development team can create it for you. So you’ll never outgrow the platform. 

Compatible Platforms

Where do you want to launch your native mobile apps?

With traditional development, you need to code separate versions of your app for each operating system. Your iOS app and Android app are essentially two different projects, both requiring different developers to complete the job.

But app builders let you create multiple apps for each platform with a single build. So just make sure the software you’re considering has that option.

At a minimum, it should offer iOS and Android versions. But the best tools provide you with iPad versions and PWA as well. This helps get your app into the hands of the widest possible audience.

Design Tools

There are lots of makers on the market that really lack design options. Even though you’re using an app creator, it should still feel like your very own mobile app—not a cookie-cutter version that looks exactly like every other app created on the same platform. 

Starting with an industry-specific template is always a plus.

For example, the homepage of an educational app probably shouldn’t be too similar to the homepage for a religious app. An ecommerce app should have a different design from an event planning app.

You should have full control over color schemes, buttons, menus, fonts, and every other visual component of the app and user interface. 

For more information, download a free copy of our ebook—The Definitive Guide to Mobile App Design.

Support

This is a huge factor in the app creation process that’s often overlooked.

No matter how easy it might be to use different app makers, there’s a good chance you’re going to have a question at some point or another. It might not be today or next week, but it could be next month or next year.

When that happens, will the support team be there for you?

Support is more than just a chatbot sending you to a knowledge base article. It’s someone who can offer you real advice and suggestions to get an answer. 

I strongly recommend that you use an app maker from a company that also offers app development services. This will give you the best possible support compared to standalone app development tools. 

In a year or two, you might want a completely customized feature or function to accommodate market demands or a shift in your business model. When this situation arises, you want the ability to lean on your support options without being forced to move your app elsewhere. 

If you’re going to outgrow the platform in a couple of years because the support options are limited, then it’s probably not the best app maker for your project. 

App Performance

At the end of the day, the mobile apps you’re building need to perform at a high level. 

Your customers and user base don’t care what platform you used to build the app or how much you spent. They just want something that works as it’s intended to do.

Downtime, crashing, bugs—all of this spells disaster for your app. 

Instead, you want an app that’s bug-free and loads quickly. You should be able to monitor all of the app analytics from your admin panel to see if users are experiencing problems and how they can be improved. 

Look through some of the apps that were built on the platform you’re considering. Read the reviews and download them to see how well they’re performing. This will give you a good indication of how well your app will perform if you build it with the same platform. 

Why BuildFire is the Best App Maker to Create an App

BuildFire is unlike any other app maker on the market today. It’s a simple yet powerful way to create an app for iOS, Android, and PWA—without any coding experience or technical knowledge. 

You can get started in minutes and choose a stunning template from a unique selection of industry-specific categories. From there, it’s just a matter of adding functions by installing plugins from our marketplace. You have full control over the design, and it’s easy to make changes to your app from anywhere.

But where BuildFire really stands out from the crowd is its limitless customization. 

We also offer full-service app development. So our in-house team is fully capable of creating custom features and functions on top of the platform. 

With other app builders on the market, you’re limited to what your app can do based on the feature list. If a feature isn’t available, then you’re out of luck. 

If you want a custom feature and don’t want to use our developers, that’s fine too. The BuildFire SDK makes it possible for you to use your own developers to create that functionality. All of which can be built on top of our existing infrastructure. 

We also offer exceptional support through each step of the development project. So you can always reach out to our team for assistance and guidance. 

Once your app is done, we’ll even help you get it live on the app stores. All of the security, maintenance, and backend requirements are handled for you. 

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. So you know that it’s a reputable and reliable solution. 

Start your 14-day free trial to see if BuildFire is right for you.

Final Thoughts

Using an app maker is the best path to development for the vast majority of mobile apps. 

Make sure you use this guide as you’re shopping around and comparing options. If you use the criteria and buying considerations mentioned above, you’ll easily find the best platform for your app development needs. 

Low-Code/No-Code App Development: What’s the Difference?

The terms low-code and no-code are often confused with each other. While both low-code and no-code have some similarities, they’re actually two completely different solutions for app development.

With that said, some low-code development platforms also offer no-code capabilities. Other platforms that are branded as no-code tools have some low-code options built in. (It’s no wonder that even savvy business users confuse these terms).

If you need help distinguishing the difference between low-code and no-code platforms, you’ve come to the right place. 

This guide covers everything you need to know about low-code vs. no-code, including a clear definition of each, the differences between them, the pros and cons of no-code/low-code, and the best no-code/low-code platforms for development. Let’s dive right in. 

What is Low Code?

Low-code makes it possible for professional developers of varying skill levels to quickly build applications with minimal hard-coding efforts. 

Using no code to create software can best be compared to traditional development. The only difference is that no-code platforms offer different shortcuts that streamline the process. Rather than spending time coding repetitive tasks from scratch, low-code platforms have basic software elements and infrastructure already built. 

Low-code platforms follow a rapid app development (RAD) approach that includes things like automated code generation through drag-and-drop interfaces, pull-down interfaces, and other visual building blocks. 

Developers can focus the majority of their efforts on writing code for the smaller parts of the application that make it unique compared to other apps on the market. But all the boilerplate and repetitive code is handled by the platform. 

As a developer, you can still write custom code over the automated code provided by a low-code tool. 

What is No Code?

No-code is exactly what it sounds like. It enables anyone, regardless of technical knowledge or programming experience, to create applications without writing a single line of code. 

The possibilities of no-code development stretch far and wide. They’re trusted by citizen developers to create apps for business processes, entrepreneurs launching new websites, and business owners building mobile apps to expand.

Similar to low-code, no-code development also uses a RAD approach. But it’s completely hands-off when it comes to coding and programming.

No-code platforms are 100% dependent on using visual tools, plugins, modules, and drag-and-drop builders to create an app. 

In simple terms, anyone can use no-code platforms without any specialized skills or training. If you know how to browse the web, you can create an application using a no-code app builder

Some of you might have experience building websites with platforms like Wix or Squarespace. Both of those tools fall into the no-code category. 

What’s the Difference Between Low Code and No Code?

There are definitely some similarities between low-code development platforms and no-code app makers. But at a granular level, you’ll see that there are major differences between low-code and no-code when you look at the details.

Let’s take a closer look at these differences below:

End-User

Low-code solutions are made for professional developers. These users need to have a background of programming and development to use a no-code tool. But they’re just looking for a shortcut that doesn’t require 100% custom code from scratch.

Anyone can use a no-code platform, including average business users who don’t have any development experience. While professional developers could technically use a no-code tool, most would prefer a low-code system—as it allows them to use their unique skills.

Open vs. Closed System

Low-code leverages open systems that allow users to add functionality to an application by writing code. For example, developers can create a custom plugin or feature on an open system and then re-use that code later for another project. 

Traditional no-code platforms are closed. This means that you’d need to rely on pre-built plugins and templates for functionality. There’s no manual code written that can customize anything beyond the platform’s capability.

With that said, there are some no-code platforms that do offer custom extensibility through an open system. 

For example, BuildFire is a no-code app development tool that’s also developer friendly. So if you want to create a custom feature for an app that isn’t available through a plugin, you can have a developer make it for you with the BuildFire SDK. 

Other no-code platforms don’t offer this type of flexibility and customization, which is why BuildFire is the best app building software on the market today. 

Speed

Low-code requires more time, training, and onboarding to get a project through development and deployment. It’s still significantly faster than traditional development, but the specialized skill requirements won’t get the application to market as fast as no-code.

No-code tools are all about plug-and-play. 90% of the work is already done—it’s just a matter of customizing a few details to make the app your own. 

You won’t have to worry about too much time testing your app either since there are fewer chances of errors that would traditionally be introduced into an app through manual coding. 

If speed is your top priority, check out this guide on how to launch an app fast

Use Cases

Both low-code and no-code development can be used to create a wide range of different software and applications. 

With that in mind, low-code is often the preferred choice for apps related to business process management, business workflows, internal business apps, and software for custom integrations. It’s a reliable choice for professional developers working on creating custom solutions for their employers.

No-code development can be used to create almost anything. It’s great for education apps, health and fitness apps, internal communication apps, event apps, ecommerce apps—the list goes on and on.

The main idea with no-code is that you’re taking advantage of as much pre-built functionality as possible. For example, every ecommerce app is going to offer the same basic features. The app will have products, a shopping cart, a payment portal, and some type of user profile. Making the app your own is just about adding your specific products and customizing the content and design to match your branding. 

It’s also worth noting that neither low-code nor no-code tools are ideal for graphics-intensive apps, AR/VR apps, or games. If you’re looking to create the next Facebook or YouTube, low-code and no-code probably won’t get the job done either. These situations are better suited for traditional development. 

What is a Low Code Development Platform?

A low-code development platform relies on visual tools and process modeling techniques to define different parts of the software, including rules, workflows, and user interfaces. 

All of these visuals are converted to code on the backend thanks to the low-code system. 

Developers seek out a low-code platform when they want to automate the basic and generic elements of coding, so they spend the bulk of their time on customization. 

Low-code platforms provide the architecture and infrastructure required for development. Certain databases and repetitive features that are common across all apps are included already—it’s just a matter of enabling or disabling them to your liking. 

90% of the code can be generated automatically using the tool. Then low-level code can be written from scratch to customize the remaining 10%.

How Do No Code Development Platforms Work?

Unlike low-code platforms, the no-code development process does not require any coding skills. A no-code platform relies solely on visual building on the front end. 

You’ll start with a template, and then you can add content in plain text, change the colors, add videos, and control your design from a visual editor. 

Adding functionality is simple. You just need to install a plugin or enable a function. 

For example, let’s say you’re a personal trainer and using a no-code app builder to provide mobile training to your clients. 

There’s a good chance you’ll want to add videos to the app that demonstrate how to properly do various workouts. You can add these with ease by installing a YouTube or Vimeo plugin to your app. Then it’s just a matter of selecting which videos you want to include and where you want them.

Maybe you want the app to have a booking feature for clients to schedule appointments. There’s a plugin for that too. 

Or maybe you want an interactive map that shows clients how to get to a nearby gym where you work. That’s just a click away.

The functionality for all of these scenarios is already pre-built. While those functions aren’t included in the app when you’re first getting started, they’re already available on the no-code platform. You just need to add the ones you want to make your app unique. 

Follow our step-by-step guide on how to build an app without coding for more information on how this works. 

Pros and Cons of Low Cow Code Development Platforms

Let’s take a closer look at the advantages and drawbacks of using low-code tools for app development:

Low-Code Pros

  • No-code solutions make it possible to build apps simultaneously for multiple platforms.
  • For large projects, you won’t have to wait for other developers to finish building parts of the app since most of the basics are already coded for you.
  • There’s less risk involved with low-code development because they don’t require as many resources.
  • Fewer risks mean less money, which both translate to a higher ROI.

Low-Code Cons

  • You need to have development knowledge to use a low-code platform.
  • Scalability for enterprise apps isn’t always possible.
  • Making major changes within the platform itself may not be easy.

Pros and Cons of No Code Platforms

No-code software development is growing in popularity for varying use cases. But keep the following considerations in mind before you get started:

No-Code Pros

  • Low barrier to entry into the world of app development.
  • Anyone can use a no-code platform, and no coding skills are required.
  • No-code is the fastest and easiest way to create an app.
  • No-code development is the most cost-effective way to make an app.
  • You don’t have to hire a development team.
  • No-code apps can be built for both iOS and Android.
  • You can deploy your app to both App Stores with a single click.

No-Code Cons

  • Depending on the platform you’re using, some no-code tools restrict your growth.
  • Complete customization isn’t always possible with low-grade app builders.
  • Not ideal for games, AR, VR, or unicorn apps (like Facebook, Tinder, or Uber).

Best Low-Code/No-Code Development Platform For Mobile Apps

BuildFire is the best low-code/no-code development platform for iOS and Android. It’s the most powerful no-code development tool on the market today, but it also provides developers with the tools they need to code custom functionality from scratch.

Where traditional no-code app builders fall short, BuildFire fills the gaps with its truly unlimited scale and customization options. 

With BuildFire, all of your app infrastructure and backend services are handled for you. You won’t have to worry about securing servers or managing databases on the backend to manage your app.

Just use the no-code visual editor to customize your app and see the changes in real-time through our app emulator. 

The platform is completely web-based. So you don’t have to install anything to your computer to make an app with BuildFire. Adding features is simple. Just choose from one of the 150+ pre-built plugins from the BuildFire marketplace.

Need something that you don’t see in the form of a plugin? No problem.

BuildFire’s SDK empowers your developers to create custom plugins and features using low-code technology. If you don’t have developers and don’t want to hire any, that’s not a problem either. You can just reach out to BuildFire, and our in-house development team will create it for you.

When it comes to no-code/low-code app development, there’s truly nothing else like BuildFire on the market today. 

Final Thoughts

Gone are the days when you needed to rely on hard coding from scratch to create software.

Low-code/no-code app development solutions make it easier for professional developers, citizen developers, and the average person to create an app with ease. There’s no need to spend a fortune, and it won’t take a year to deploy your app either.

These tools allow you to launch an app in weeks or months and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. 

With all of this in mind, it’s worth noting that low-code and no-code development aren’t the same. The technology does have some similarities, but they’re both very different at the end of the day.

If you’re unsure whether no-code or low-code is right for you, try BuildFire. BuildFire is the best of both worlds, and it’s trusted by business users with no coding experience and professional developers alike.

Sign up today to start your 14-day free trial

Getting Started With iOS App Development

iOS app development can be a lucrative venture. It allows you to reach the one billion people who use iPhones globally. 

Existing businesses and new entrepreneurs alike recognize the opportunities associated with iOS mobile app development. But getting started is often the biggest hurdle, and that’s why we created this guide. 

Continue below to find out everything you need to get started with iOS app development. We’ll even show you a shortcut to success. 

What is iOS App Development?

iOS app development is the process of making software to run on Apple iPhone, iPad, and iTouch hardware. Like any software project, the iOS app development process has unique requirements to ensure the application is compatible and meets the specifications for Apple devices.

iOS applications can be deployed on the Apple App Store for users to download. 

Apple has specific developer guidelines for iOS apps. These guidelines contain the rules and best practices for iOS app development, including what it takes to get your app published to the Apple App Store

Prerequisites to Develop iOS Apps

There are certain requirements you need to have in place before you start developing iOS apps. 

Most of these are technical requirements that provide you with the tools and resources for development. We’ll take a closer look at each one below and link out to some other helpful resources that you can use to learn more about the topics. 

Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

The first thing you need for any mobile app development project is an integrated development environment—better known as an IDE. 

An IDE is essentially software that enables developers to build applications. IDEs combine a range of developer tools into one GUI (graphical user interface). 

Xcode is Apple’s official IDE, and it requires a Mac computer to operate. 

There are some workarounds out there to use Xcode on a Windows-based PC. But generally speaking, it’s not in your best interest to go this route. If you’re serious about being an iOS developer, you should have the right hardware. 

With Xcode, you can do more than just create apps for iPhones and iPads. You can also use this tool to create, test, and distribute apps for all Apple devices across every Apple platform. 

This includes applications for Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. You’ll have a compiler, text editor, and name system all in one place. 

The software offers a wide range of debugging tools, project management resources, and asset management features. Overall, it’s a great way to keep all of your coding files organized when you’re developing and deploying apps on the Apple App Store and Mac App Store. 

We have a full tutorial on Xcode that you can use as a reference to get started. The tutorial covers all of Xcode’s requirements, how Xcode works, Xcode features, and how to use it for your iOS development project. 

iOS Programming Language

You also need to decide what programming language you’re going to use to create an iOS app. 

The Swift programming language has become the new go-to option for iOS development. It’s commonly used and encouraged if you’re using Xcode. Objective-C is another popular option to consider. 

With that said, you can also use a general-purpose programming language or object-oriented programming language to develop an iOS app. It all depends on your current programming skills and the type of app you want to create. 

In addition to Swift and Objective-C, Xcode is also compatible with Objective-C++, C, C++, Java, Python, Ruby, Ruby on Rails, and Python. Check out our guide on the best programming languages for iOS apps to learn more about your options. 

Swift has become so popular due to its flexibility and simplicity. The concise syntax makes it easy to learn, even for beginner iOS app developers. 

The language is clean, easy to read, and easy to maintain. This is great for making changes and updates down the road. Having clean code also makes it easier to spot mistakes while you’re building an app. 

Designed for safety, Swift also eliminates certain classes of historically unsafe code. These built-in safety features make it an easy choice for many developers. 

iOS Software Development Kit

An iOS SDK (software development kit) is different from an IDE. By definition, an IDE only provides an interface for development. But an SDK offers all of the tools required for programming. 

SDKs provide the software programs you need to create applications using specific programming languages. 

One cool part about using Xcode is that it comes with different SDKs. These come in the form of libraries that you can use to develop iOS apps. 

We have a complete list of iOS development tools that you can use as a reference as you’re trying to find the best iOS SDK for your application. 

Active Apple Developer Account

You need an active Apple developer account to get your app in the hands of real users via the App Store. Without a developer account, you cannot submit and distribute your application. 

To get started, simply join the Apple Developer Program. Aside from being a requirement, the membership comes with lots of different perks that you can use to your advantage. 

One cool part of the program is access to the latest betas. This allows you to leverage Apple’s latest technologies and integrate them into your applications for iOS apps, iPadOS apps, macOS apps, watchOS apps, and tvOS applications. 

The program also gives you access to TestFlight, which is a great way to test your apps before a release. You can invite up to 10,000 external users to try your new builds before deployment. All you need to do is send it to their email address or share a public link.  

You can enroll in the developer program as an individual or as an organization. Both options require an Apple ID with two-factor authentication enabled. 

Organizations must be registered as a legal entity and have a D-U-N-S number to verify the entity status. Apple does not accept trade names, DBAs, or fictitious business names. You also need to have a publicly available website with a domain that’s associated with the organization.

Keep in mind, there is a small fee to join. A developer program membership costs $99 per year. Some organizations may be eligible for nonprofit, education, or government discounts. 

iOS Developer

If you’re not going to build the app on your own, you need iOS app developers to do the work for you. 

But you don’t always need a developer in the traditional sense of the term. As you’ll see later on, we’ll show you a trick to creating iOS apps without writing a single line of code. So if you’re not very technical and you don’t want to hire a development team, you can still create an app on your own.

We have lots of different resources that you can use as a reference as you’re making this decision. First, check out our guide on how to hire an app developer. You can also review our guide on how much it costs to hire a developer

It’s also worth noting that there are different types of developers. Most fall into either one of two categories—freelancers and development agencies. We have an in-depth guide that compares the pros and cons of hiring an app development company vs. freelance developers

You can also download our free ebook on building an expert mobile app development team. This goes beyond app developers and includes tips for hiring designers, contractors, project managers, QAs, and other key players in a successful iOS app project team. 

Other Requirements For iOS Mobile Apps

Beyond the technical requirements specific to iOS apps, there are other things you need to have in place before you can create an app. These requirements apply to any type of mobile application, including iOS apps. 

Clearly Defined Goals

Your iOS app needs a purpose. You can’t just build an app because it sounds cool or because everyone else has one. 

Every successful app must have a goal. This goal will become your north star throughout the development process.

Ask yourself some basic questions to steer the ship in the right direction:

  • Why are you building an iOS app?
  • How will the app meet the needs of your target audience?
  • What problems or pain points will your app solve for users?
  • Does your app have any unique features to stand out from similar apps on the market?

If you can’t answer these questions, you’re probably not ready to start building just yet. 

Defining your goals early and sticking to the plan helps keep your development timeline on track and your project within budget. Otherwise, you can easily get distracted throughout the process and become tempted to add extra features along the way. But this is often expensive and detracts from the app’s main goals. 

Market Research

Market research might be the most commonly overlooked step in pre-app development. But it’s also the key to success when you’re creating iOS apps.

Mobile app market research forces you to understand market trends, industry trends, your target audience, and your competition. This research will ultimately help validate your idea—ensuring the iOS application you want to build will actually address a current market need. 

It’s much better to conduct your research early on. Failing to do so could prove to be a costly mistake. 

You don’t want to spend six months of your life and thousands of dollars on a project only to discover that nobody wants it. But your market research can also help you tweak your idea or adjust your target audience based on your findings. 

The process involves lots of data collection and data analysis. You can use existing resources to learn more about general market trends. You can also conduct your own research through polls, surveys, and focus groups. 

But the best market research uses both methods. It’s thorough and gives you the confidence you need to move forward with your iOS development project—knowing you’re creating the app for the right reasons. 

iOS Version Compatibility

You need to make sure that your app is compatible with the latest version of iOS. 

As Apple releases new iOS versions and updates for each version, some apps might experience bugs or problems with features. This is also common as new devices are released. 

Apps that were built using iOS 6.0 that shipped with the iPhone 5 back in 2012 wouldn’t be compatible with the latest iOS 15.6 version that’s being used a decade later. 

So first, you need to make sure the tools you’re using are updated, and the libraries support new versions. But you also need to have a plan for updates in the future. Otherwise, your app can become obsolete if it’s not constantly being updated to keep up with new iOS releases. 

Using BuildFire For iOS App Development

BuildFire is the fastest, easiest, and most cost-effective method for iOS development. 

It’s a no-code app builder for both iOS and Android. So you can use it to create the Apple and Android versions of a mobile application—all from a single build. 

BuildFire provides non-technical users with the tools required to create an app without having to hire a developer or learn how to code. The entire process can be managed from an intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It’s 100% web-based, which means you won’t have to download any software to get started.

Start by selecting a professionally-designed template. From there, it’s just a matter of customizing the content to match your app’s goal.

You have complete control over the colors, branding, and the look and feel of your app. 

Adding features is simple. With just a few clicks, you can add functionality in the form of a plugin from the BuildFire marketplace.

Unlike other app builders on the market, BuildFire is developer-friendly. This means that if you don’t see a feature that does exactly what you want it to, a custom feature can be built using the BuildFire SDK. 

You can either have your own developers create the function or reach out to BuildFire’s custom development team to build it for you.

Best of all, you won’t have to worry about maintaining your infrastructure or ensuring compatibility with iOS updates. BuildFire takes care of everything, and we’ll even get your app published to the App Store. 

Final Thoughts

Having a blueprint to follow when you’re getting started with iOS development is crucial. 

You can use this guide as a resource to ensure you have everything in place before you start building. Once you have everything organized, building the app will be much easier.

iOS app development shouldn’t be intimidating. Even if you don’t have any coding knowledge or technical experience, you can still create an app using an app maker like BuildFire. 

Sign up now and try it for free with a 14-day trial.

How Does a No Code App Builder Work?

No-code development bridges the gap between non-technical users and app development. Something that historically required tech skills and programming knowledge can now be achieved with a no-code app builder. 

If you want to make an app but don’t know how to code, this guide is for you. 

You’ll learn everything there is to know about no-code development, how it works, and how to use no-code app builders for your next project. 

What is a No Code App Builder?

As the name implies, a no-code app builder allows users to create applications without having to write code. If you know how to navigate the web, you can use a no-code platform to create an app from scratch.

No-code app builders rely on simple visual editors and drag-and-drop tools. 

You simply tell the software what to do, where you want things, and how you want it to look. Everything else is handled for you on the backend. 

In traditional software development, the code represents instructions that tell the platform how to execute various functions. But no-code development uses an app maker to define what the app should do, as opposed to how it’s done. 

For example, rather than having to write code for specific screens, button text, menus, and colors, you can use a no-code app builder to customize everything from a visual editor. 

Benefits of Using a No Code Platform For Your App Idea

There are significant advantages of no-code development in creating mobile apps. In many scenarios, no-code will be the ideal method for any development project. 

We’ll take a closer look at the benefits of no-code below:

No Technical Knowledge Required

No-code app builders make it easy for anyone to create native apps. You don’t need to have any coding skills, technical knowledge, or programming experience to bring your app idea to life. 

In short, this means that the average person can develop applications with ease. There’s no need to hire a developer or learn how to code. No-code tools are very straightforward and don’t have much of a learning curve.

Get to Market Faster

Using traditional development to create mobile apps is time-consuming. The average project can take anywhere from six months to 18+ months between the time you start developing and the time you launch.

But no-code development can easily cut that timeline in half. In most cases, you should be able to launch your app within a few months. 

This helps you stay competitive, improve the customer experience, and bring innovation to your business. 

Launch on Both App Stores

There are two main app stores—the Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play Store for Android. Traditional development requires two different versions of the app—one for each store.

That’s because each platform uses different programming languages.

But with no-code development solutions like BuildFire, you can create an app for iOS and Android in a single build. Just build your app using the visual editor, and let us know when you’re done. BuildFire will get your app live on both stores with just a single click on your end.

Lower Development Costs

No-code lets you create apps for a fraction of the cost compared to low-level coding. 

That’s because the development timeline is shortened, and you don’t need to hire a team of developers. Labor alone associated with hiring an iOS developer, Android developer, web developer, project manager, and quality assurance agent is costly. 

But no-code does not require a team of developers. You can build the app on your own, and your only cost is the subscription fee to use the software. 

The cost of a quality app development platform typically starts around $350 to $500 per month. 

Increased ROI

Lower costs and faster development timelines translate to more money in your pocket. 

You have an opportunity to get your mobile app in the hands of real users quickly, making it easy to see a faster return on your investment. You can break even within months instead of years. 

Check out our app monetization guide for ideas on how to make money with your app.

No Code Platforms vs. Low Code App Builders

The terms “no code” and “low code” often go hand-in-hand. But low-code options are not always synonymous with no-code development tools. 

While it’s true that some platforms incorporate no-code and low-code technology to create mobile and web apps, there are some important differences that you need to understand between these technologies. 

No-code platforms are built for everyone, including users who don’t have any prior experience with programming or app development. Low-code development does require some technical knowledge, and it typically requires trained developers to complete projects. 

Low-code is still cheaper than traditional development, but it’s slightly more expensive than no-code options. Low-code tends to offer a bit more flexibility and customization options than no-code tools, as developers can create custom functions outside of the platform’s limitations.

BuildFire is the best of both worlds. It’s a no-code app builder that anyone can use, and it’s also developer-friendly.

This means that anyone with technical knowledge can use BuildFire to create custom functionality for mobile apps. The no-code platform and low-code capabilities can be used jointly to create a truly customized mobile app.

You can take advantage of BuildFire’s backend technology, including authentication servers, file servers, image servers, analytics servers, push notification servers, databases, CMS, and more. Everything can be built on top of our existing infrastructure. 

How No Code App Builders Work

No code app builders work by giving creators the ability to control where everything goes. It’s as simple as dragging and dropping images or using a visual editor to change the text or colors on a screen. 

As you make changes within the editor, you’ll see the changes in real-time on an emulator. This lets you see exactly how your changes are impacting the design choices and functions of your final product.

Everything is already pre-configured on the backend. So you won’t have to worry about maintaining the infrastructure, paying for servers, or maintaining updates. Your no-code tool will do all of this for you.

Many of the best no-code app builders rely on integrations, data connections, and plugins to support functionality. Adding a function to your app can be as simple as installing a plugin.

Want to add videos to your app? Simply install a YouTube or Vimeo plugin. 

Do you need a way to manage bookings or events? There are plugins for that too.

The plugins can integrate with other tools like Zapier, Google Sheets, maps, and even leverage existing technology on the end-user’s device, like their camera or Bluetooth. 

Types of Mobile Apps You Can Build With No Code Platforms

In most cases, you won’t be restricted by the type of app you can build with no code. You use this technology to create anything from a dating app to a web app and everything in between. 

The only time where no-code isn’t ideal for native mobile apps is when you need to create something that’s highly graphics-intensive or extremely unique. For example, you probably wouldn’t use a no-code solution to build a gaming app or create the next Facebook. 

With that said, you can still use no-code technology to create fully functional apps across dozens of categories. We’ll look at some examples below.

Ecommerce App

If you currently have an ecommerce website and want to turn it into an app, you can easily do so without any technical skills or coding knowledge. 

All you need to do is find a no-code tool that you can sync with your online store. Then you can start selling immediately and increase mobile conversions with an ecommerce app

Events App

You can create an app for one-time events and recurring events as well. Event apps are great for concerts, business expos, networking events, wedding planning, and so much more.

The app can be a one-stop shop to manage attendees, showcase sponsors, highlight exhibitors, share videos, and provide more detailed information about the location.

Apps For Business Processes and Employee Communication

No-code has really skyrocketed in popularity when it comes to building mobile applications for business use. Internal business solutions typically need to launch quickly, and most organizations are very cost-sensitive when they’re investing in this type of venture.

Businesses rely on no-code apps for HR, employee communication, employee self-service, business workflows, company announcements, schedule changes, staff directories, and more.

Fitness and Wellness Apps

No-code app makers allow gym owners, personal trainers, yoga instructors, dietitians, and anyone else in the fitness and wellness space to easily create an app.

This is a great way to expand your business and reach new clients. You can use the app to manage memberships, sell premium workouts, create meal plan videos, book classes at the gym, and so much more. You can even use a fitness app for virtual personal training sessions without ever having to meet clients in person. 

Education Apps

There are tons of use cases for education apps in today’s day and age. Schools and universities are using them to share events, provide a staff directory, create a campus map, and engage with students.

These apps can also be used to facilitate quizzes, tests, surveys, polls, and more. They can be a resource for study materials, document sharing, and even showcase videos of pre-recorded classes. Check out our tips and best practices for creating educational apps to learn more. 

Nonprofit and Religious Organization Apps

Nonprofits and churches may not have the budget or resources to develop an app from scratch. But a no-code app builder breaks down these barriers, allowing these types of organizations to go mobile.

Religious apps are great for sharing sermons, providing a digital bible, collecting donations, and creating a sense of community. Your members can take advantage of social media-like features to connect with each other and manage upcoming events. 

Content and Entertainment Apps

Social media influencers and people with a podcast or YouTube channel can use no-code app builders to expand their reach. It’s just another channel where you can repurpose existing content or potentially create exclusive content that’s just for app users.

This is a great way to make money from your content. No-code app makers allow you to lock premium content and sell subscriptions to your fans. So you can easily earn recurring revenue and drive engagement from app users. 

Best No Code App Builder For iOS and Android

BuildFire is the best tool on the market today for no-code development. It’s a simple and powerful way to create apps for iOS and Android—all for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development.

The software is easy to use, and you can get started building the app of your dreams in a matter of seconds.

All you need to do is sign up, select a template, and you can start customizing everything you need from our visual editor and see the changes in real-time through an interactive app emulator. 

Where BuildFire really shines is its limitless functionality. There are hundreds of plugins on the BuildFire marketplace that you can use to seamlessly add features to your app in a single click.

But unlike other app builders on the market, BuildFire also supports custom development. 

Let’s say there’s a unique feature that you want to include on your app, but you can’t find it in the form of a plugin. No problem. With BuildFire, you can have your own developer create that functionality for you and add it to the app. Or reach out to our team of in-house developers to build it.

Other no-code app builders restrict functionality and limit your growth. But the opportunities are endless with BuildFire, and our platform is built to scale. 

No matter what you want your app to be or how many users download the app, you’ll never outgrow our platform.

You can sign up right now and try BuildFire for free with our 14-day free trial.

Final Thoughts

No-code app development is the future, and the future is now. 

Gone are the days when you need to hire an entire development team and wait a year to launch your app. No-code technology lets you build apps quickly, get to market fast, and save money on development. 

If you’re just an average business user that doesn’t have the time, patience, or resources to learn code or outsource development, no-code is the solution. 

You can use a no-code app builder to expand your existing business or start a new venture from scratch. The opportunities are limitless. 

Launch App Guide: How to Launch an App Fast

Most businesses recognize the importance of app development. But waiting a year or more for your mobile app launch isn’t realistic for everyone.

Sometimes a business needs to launch an app quickly to capitalize on an opportunity.

Maybe you need the app ready for an upcoming event. Or perhaps you’re releasing a new product or service that must coincide with the app launch. It’s possible that you’re creating an app to stay one step ahead of your competition or keep pace with other competitors launching mobile apps.

There are dozens of reasons why launching an app quickly is crucial for so many organizations. 

The average app development timeline before launch is at least six months. But this guide will teach you how to cut that timeline in half. Some of you will be able to create and launch an app in just one to three months by following the blueprint and tips for success outlined below.

Why a Successful Mobile App Launch is So Important

Your mobile app launch can make or break the short and long-term success of your application. 

If you wait too long to launch the app, you could miss out on some time-sensitive opportunities that have a direct impact on app downloads and usage. Conversely, rushing through development and putting out a sub-par product could cause people to stop using the app altogether because of a bad experience. 

A smooth launch with an app that’s bug-free and delivers a seamless user experience is the best way to ensure your app is successful for years to come. Prioritizing the user will keep them coming back to use the app, allowing you to maximize the lifetime value of each person who downloads the app. 

Launching your app in weeks instead of months is useless if the app itself doesn’t work the way it’s intended. So you need to find that balance between a fast launch and a high-quality product.

Full disclosure—some apps simply cannot be built in weeks or months. If you’re trying to create the next Facebook, Uber, or YouTube, it’s unrealistic to plan for a three-month development timeline. Gaming apps, augmented reality apps, and virtual reality apps typically have longer app launch timelines as well.

But the vast majority of business apps can be launched quickly, without sacrificing the app’s quality—assuming you’re using the right technology and following a proven blueprint for success (like the steps in this guide).

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. So we know what it takes to have success in this space, and we’ve seen our clients launch apps faster than the average development cycle. 

5 Steps for Fast App Launches

Fast and successful app launches are all about simplicity. The entire process can be summarized in just five easy steps:

Step 1 — Market Research

Anyone can come up with an app idea. But you need to validate this idea with market research before you start building anything.

So many mobile apps fall short of expectations because the app developer skipped this step. 

Taking the time to understand your target audience and research your target market will ultimately save you time and money when development starts. You might realize that certain features or functions that you thought were important aren’t actually necessary for the app. 

So you can launch the app quickly by omitting those features altogether. 

For example, let’s say you have a small boutique clothing shop. You want to make an app before the busy holiday season as a way to boost sales from mobile commerce. Great idea!

One feature you’re considering is a barcode scanner. This would allow customers shopping in-store to scan the barcode of an item in the app to see more information about the product, including customer reviews. Sounds like a reasonable feature to include.

But after conducting market research, you might discover that most of your customer base doesn’t want, need, or plan to use that feature. 

By eliminating this functionality from your development process, it will save you a ton of time and money—allowing you to launch the app faster and for less money.

Market research gives you the opportunity to research your current customers, prospective customers, competitors, and similar apps on the market. 

You’re forced to identify what makes your app unique, giving you an advantage over other apps available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. 

Step 2 — Get Organized

Once you’ve completed the market research stage, you need to create a solid plan. Use the following bullets as an app launch checklist and answer some important questions before you start building anything:

  • What app stores are you going to launch on? 
  • Are you going to build your own app or hire mobile app developers?
  • If hiring app developers, will you assemble your team or work with an app development company?
  • Have you considered app builders and mobile app development platforms?
  • What is your app development budget?
  • When do you need to launch the app?
  • Are there other stakeholders that need to be consulted?
  • Do you need to raise money or pitch the app idea to investors?
  • How is your app going to make money?

If you don’t have answers to these questions, you’re not ready to build and launch the app yet. 

For the purposes of this guide, I’m not going to go too deep into each of those questions. 

Instead, we want to focus our efforts here today on launching a high-quality app as quickly as possible. 

But we have tons of great resources and how-to guides that will help you get organized and prepare yourself during the app planning stage. Here are some relevant articles to the questions listed above:

You can always reach out to our team of experts here at BuildFire for more guidance and information. Take advantage of a free consultation to learn more.

Step 3 — Identify Your Mobile App’s Key Features

By now, you should have a clear understanding of how you’re going to create an app. Whether you’re going to create an app on your own or outsource the project to a development company, it’s time to focus on the app’s functionality. 

This is arguably the most important step when trying to launch an app fast.

All too often, people get carried away with mobile app features. They focus too much on the “nice-to-haves” instead of the “must-haves.”

Start by creating a list of features that your app users need to solve a problem or achieve a goal. 

Your initial list of features might have more than a dozen different ideas. But that doesn’t mean you’ll actually develop all of them. Go through the list one by one and start to eliminate the ones that don’t contribute to the app’s core purpose.

For example, let’s say you’re creating an app for your restaurant. There are dozens of potential features that you can include in the app. But what is your real reason for development?

A restaurant app for mobile ordering and delivery will look very different from a rewards app for in-person dining. 

Would it be cool to have the app connect with the user’s contact list and camera? Sure. But is that actually necessary for the app’s primary goal? Probably not. 

Step 4 — Create an MVP

An MVP (minimum viable product) is often associated with beta testing and app analytics. But you can actually use an MVP for your initial launch on the respective app stores if you’re on a tight development timeline. 

With an MVP, you’re taking the core features that were identified in the previous step and putting those into development. 

You’re not going to worry about all of the extra bells and whistles. Just focus on the core functions and give yourself a working version of the app that achieves its goals and primary purpose. 

Here’s another example.

Let’s say you’re creating an ecommerce app as an extension of your shopping website. The primary goal of the app is mobile purchasing capabilities. 

So while a mobile customer loyalty program or mobile customer referral program sounds like great features, neither would be included in the MVP. Instead, you’d just launch an app with the bare-bones functionality for ecommerce purchasing. 

You need to make sure the app integrates with your online store and has a built-in payment gateway—that’s it.

Letting users customize their profile with a birthday, favorite products, and the ability to share items with their friends can be added in later. But the MVP is just for the primary feature or features.

Step 5 — Prepare for Launch

While the MVP development is still in progress, you can start taking steps to promote your app and get it ready for launch. 

Waiting until the development is complete to act on this step is just going to add unnecessary length to your launch timeline. Preparation examples include:

  • Create a dedicated landing page for the iOS app and Android app
  • Promote your app in a blog post
  • Build hype for the app on your social media accounts
  • Create app screenshots to use for marketing materials
  • Prepare for app store search using app store optimization (ASO) guidelines
  • Understand the differences between Android apps and iOS apps when you launch

If you’re stuck on some of these preparation steps, you can always look to free mobile apps and paid apps for inspiration and borrow ideas from their promotional strategies. 

This way, you can publish your app immediately after the development is done.

App Launch Methods For Success

There are actually five different ways to launch an app. But if you’re prioritizing speed without sacrificing quality, only two of these options are worth your consideration.

Method #1 — Using an App Builder

An app builder is the easiest way for DIY users to create their own apps without writing a single line of code. 

All of the backend app requirements are handled by the platform provider. So you just need to add your features and customize the content. 

BuildFire’s app maker is the most powerful way to launch apps for iOS and Android. It’s easy to use and offers limitless scalability. 

You can start in seconds by simply choosing a template. Then you can add features with a single click from our feature marketplace. 

The cool part about BuildFire is that it also supports custom functionality. So if you need something that’s ultra-specific and can’t find it in the marketplace, we can create custom features for you.

Once the app is built, we’ll handle the app store publishing process. You just need to click a button when the app is done. 

BuildFire makes it easy to launch an app fast and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. Maintaining the app post-launch and adding features later on is simple. So you can start with basic features and add more advanced functions months or even years after the initial launch. 

Method #2 — App Development Services

If you’re not a hands-on user and would rather outsource the development project, you can look for an app development service that will get your mobile app to market quickly.

BuildFire Plus is the ultimate solution.

Compared to traditional development, BuildFire Plus offers custom app development on top of BuildFire’s existing ecosystem and infrastructure. So our in-house custom development team doesn’t need to start from scratch. 

This gives you a significant head start compared to outsourcing your project to other app developers or assembling an internal product team. 

We’ll work with you through each step of the process to ensure that the app aligns with your business goals, budget, and development timeline. 

Final Thoughts on a Successful Launch for Mobile Apps

Launching an app quickly is important for many businesses and entrepreneurs. Just make sure your development timeline doesn’t sacrifice the quality of the final product.

You can also save time and prepare for a successful launch by working on your app marketing strategy and promotional materials during the development stages.

Focus on your app’s core features and functionality in the beginning. You can always add more features later on after the app launches. 

Turn Website Into App – The Ultimate Guide (2022)

Creating a mobile app is the best way to take your website to the next level. 

While websites are fine for computer browsing, 85% of people say they prefer mobile apps over mobile sites on smartphones. Mobile app users prefer the convenience, user experience, and speed of apps compared to websites. This gives you an opportunity to target a wider audience and generate more conversions.

So how do you turn a website into an app? This guide will show you how.

We’ll start by covering the main advantages of mobile apps compared to websites and web apps. Then you’ll discover the different ways to convert a website into an app and follow our step-by-step blueprint for success.

Benefits of Mobile Apps vs. Websites 

Why should you turn your website into a mobile app? Here are the top reasons:

Ease of Access

Let’s do a quick experiment. 

Take out your phone, and navigate to your website. How long did that take? You had to open your phone, navigate to a web browser, and then type in your site address (hoping not to make any spelling mistakes on a small screen).

Now open any app on your phone.

Obviously, it’s much faster to open an app than it is to visit a website. When you turn your site into an app, you’ll always be just a click away from anyone’s smartphone or tablet. 

Push Notifications

Push notifications offer a significant communication advantage over websites.

For websites to communicate with visitors, you need to rely on email opt-ins. Even if you manage to get subscribers, your next battle is getting them to open your email marketing campaigns—which is a completely different ballgame. 

But push notifications go directly to a user’s home screen, similar to a text message. So you can communicate with app users at any time, keeping your brand top-of-mind for any campaign or goal.

Loyalty

Mobile apps typically drive more loyalty compared to websites. That’s because apps live on a user’s home screen. They’re much more inclined to open a mobile application if they’re staring at your app icon dozens of times per day.

When you consider the fact that the average person picks up their phone 58 times daily, it drastically increases the chances of your app being used as well.  

Apps also make it easier for you to create customer loyalty programs, encouraging users to spend more money and convert more frequently. Then they can track their loyalty rewards progress directly from the app. 

Engagement

Apps provide a more pleasant experience for users compared to the mobile web. This translates to more engaged audiences.

If your site isn’t loading quickly or there isn’t a seamless navigation between screens, people often get frustrated and bounce. But native apps tend to perform much better, which translates to people having longer sessions and completing more in-app actions. 

You can also monitor user engagement statistics and tweak your app accordingly to ensure users open the app more frequently. They’ll continue having long, engaging sessions. 

Conversions

Mobile apps convert higher than the mobile web

This isn’t just an opinion or an observation—there are hard numbers to back this up. Just look at these app conversion rate differences between mobile apps and mobile sites:

Mobile applications perform higher in every industry. On average, apps convert at a 157% higher rate compared to mobile sites. 

Imagine getting a 150% increase in conversions simply by creating a mobile app. That alone should be a good enough reason to move forward. 

Meet User Expectations

People want to do more from their mobile devices. This includes everything from mobile banking to online shopping, scheduling appointments, watching videos, and reading blogs. 

Imagine trying to find a business online, only to discover they don’t have a website. You’d be shocked, right? 

While you wouldn’t quite have the same reaction to them not having an app, you’d still be a little surprised. Brands having mobile apps has become the new normal. We’re reaching the point where not having a mobile app is almost like not having a website. 

Improve the User Experience

Apps provide a better user interface and user experience compared to mobile sites in almost every way. That’s because mobile apps can use native device features, including cameras, Bluetooth, photo reels, contact lists, and more.

Mobile apps are made specifically for mobile devices, whereas websites are generally designed for larger screens.

Obviously, having a mobile version of your website improves the user experience. But it’s not quite to the same extent of having a fully native mobile app. 

Generate More Revenue

Apps give you the opportunity to make more money.

You can either use your app as a way to generate revenue using your existing business model or potentially open up new revenue streams. For ecommerce apps and subscription services, having an app is an absolute must. 

But even content creators can generate new revenue by offering in-app purchases to premium content or making in-app advertisements. 

You can use your app to book appointments, sell tickets, manage events, and even collect deposits as well. The opportunities are seemingly endless. 

App Store Presence

Having an app gives you an opportunity to expand your reach. Right now, you might only be reaching people who follow your brand on social media, read your blog or discover you through an organic Google search.

But you’re neglecting all of the potential users who are browsing the Google Play Store to find an Android app and the Apple App Store to discover new iOS apps. 

According to a recent study, 48% of people say they find new apps by browsing app stores. An additional 34% of users say they find new apps through app store recommendations.

These are both two of the top three app discovery methods. 

By having your app available to download on additional channels, you can attract an entirely new audience to your brand. 

Competitive Advantage

Creating an app gives you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. There are two ways to look at this.

One, if your direct competitors don’t have an app just yet, then you can beat them to the market and gain a significant advantage. Depending on the situation, you might even be able to steal their customers. Two, if your competitors already have an app, then you definitely need an app to keep up with them and stay relevant. 

Users could look at your brand and think that you’re not modern or keeping up with the times if you don’t have a mobile app. 

Offline Support

Mobile sites and website apps have a major flaw—they need internet access to work. So if someone is on the go and can’t connect to a WiFi network, they won’t be able to access your website without using cellular data.

But mobile apps work offline, meaning they’re always available to users. 

You can also set up your app to have offline-specific features. For example, look at an app like Google Docs. People can’t save changes to documents without an internet connection. But they can make changes and have everything saved to their mobile device. Then as soon as they get an internet connection, the files will be moved and backed up to the cloud.

6 Ways to Convert Your Website Into a Mobile App

There are lots of different ways to convert your website to an app. But not all of these options are great. We’ll cover each one in greater detail below so you can discover the best solution for your situation.

Use a Website to App Conversion Platform

Lots of tools on the market make it easy to create apps from a website. However, many of these conversion platforms are extremely limited. They’re essentially taking your existing website and just repurposing it into a mobile version, and that’s not what you want.

A mobile app should have distinguishably different features from your website. Your app could actually be rejected from the Apple App Store if it’s too similar to your site.

Most of these platforms don’t support custom features, and you can’t even send push notifications or do other basic actions. 

Pros

  • Cheap
  • No coding required
  • Get app to market quickly

Cons

  • Limited features
  • No custom capabilities
  • Can’t connect to native APIs
  • Not distinguishable enough from your website
  • Limited room for scale and growth

Overall, this option is really only viable for smaller websites on an ultra-tight budget. You want an app for the sake of having one but don’t really care about making money with it or getting lots of downloads.

Code the App Yourself

If you’re tech-savvy and want to create your own app without hiring anyone or using a third-party platform, you could always code it by yourself. But for most people, this obviously involves learning a completely new skillset. 

Learning how to code is not easy. Even after you nail some of the basic concepts, your first handful of projects probably won’t be amazing. Do you really want to experiment by building a native app from your website?

For business use cases, the answer is almost always no. 

Pros

  • You have full control over every detail
  • No need to hire other developers
  • Cheap
  • Complete customization options

Cons

  • Longer development timeline
  • Must learn how to code
  • Final product is likely to have some flaws
  • Need to maintain all of the backend infrastructure on your own

If you have some basic coding knowledge and you don’t mind experimenting, this could work for you. Maybe you even did all of the coding for your website, and you want to transition those skills to a mobile app. But for the vast majority of people, learning to code probably isn’t the best path for converting a website to an app.

Hire a Freelancer

Hiring freelance mobile app developers is an appealing option to many people. That’s because freelancers are often a cheap way to create native apps. There are plenty of freelance job boards and platforms to connect you with developers from all over the world. 

Risk is the biggest downside associated with hiring a freelancer. Your success and failures fall solely into the hands of a single person.

What happens if the project gets delayed? What if they get sick? How will you handle things if they’re not responding to calls or messages?

Language barriers can also be challenging, especially when you’re working with international developers. 

Pros

  • Cheaper than an app development agency
  • You don’t have to code anything on your own
  • Thousands of developers to choose from

Cons

  • Difficult to vet developers and find the best person for your project
  • Need to get the freelancer to understand your vision and business goals
  • Lots of back and forth communication is required
  • Costs can get out of control if there are any delays

Check out our guide that compares app development companies vs. freelancers for more information. If you know you want to outsource the project but don’t have the budget for a US-based development company, a freelancer could be a good option if you’re willing to take some risks.

Hire a Development Agency

Outsourcing your website app project to a development company is almost always a better option than going with a freelance developer. The costs will usually be a bit higher, but the final product and complete development option are usually worth it.

With an agency, you’ll have a complete team of experienced developers and designers at your disposal. This means your app will get to market faster, and the final product will be superior to other options. 

Most development agencies will also walk you through other key parts of the app development process, like wireframing, design, and post-launch support. 

Pros

  • Complete customization
  • Get your app to market fast
  • Entire team working on your project
  • Some agencies specialize in niche-specific apps

Cons

  • Most expensive option
  • Some agencies have strict contract terms

App development agencies can be amazing. Just don’t expect them to be cheap.

Use an App Builder Platform

An app development platform makes it possible to create an app on your own without writing a single line of code. Many of you might be familiar with this concept if you used a website builder like Wix or Squarespace to launch your website. 

These tools are designed for DIY users that want to keep costs low and still have an excellent final product. 

There’s definitely some work to do on your own, but it’s usually not very challenging. You can start with a template and just customize everything else from there with your branding and content. 

Pros

  • Affordable
  • No need to outsource
  • Start with a template
  • Control everything on your own

Cons

  • Not every app builder offers custom solutions
  • You may need to test different tools to find the best one for your needs
  • Some app builders aren’t built to scale

Just be aware that not every app builder is the same. Some have stricter limitations on what you can build and how much you can customize. Other options are good for post-launch features like unlimited push notifications. 

Use BuildFire

BuildFire is the best way to convert your website into an app. It’s an app maker platform with custom development services under one roof—providing a solution for everyone, regardless of your goal or budget.

For DIY users, you can use BuildFire’s app builder to convert your website to an app with ease. Our drag-and-drop platform has virtually no learning curve, and you can start building today. Adding features is easy. Just find what you’re looking for in our feature marketplace, and you can add it to your app with a single click.

Compared to other app builders, BuildFire stands out with its limitless scalability and functionality. Even for DIYers, our team can provide assistance and create custom features uniquely for your app. That’s the value of app development services vs. stand-alone app builders

If you want to completely outsource the project, we also offer a fully custom app development service that includes planning, design, development, updates, and post-launch maintenance. 

Pros

  • Build iOS apps and Android apps simultaneously
  • No coding required
  • Affordable alternative to traditional development
  • Limitless scalability
  • Fully customized features and development solutions
  • App builder and development services under one roof
  • One-click publishing to Apple App Store and Google Play Store

Cons

  • Not ideal for gaming apps
  • Not ideal for VR or AR apps

BuildFire has been used to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps. Sign up for a 14-day free trial to get started, or schedule a free consultation to learn more about our custom development solutions. 

How to Convert a Website to a Mobile App in 7 Steps

Now let’s look at the exact steps required to turn your site to an app. The entire process can be summarized in seven simple steps.

Step 1 — Verify the Need for a Mobile App

The first thing you need to do is make sure there’s actually a market need for your app. In some cases, having a website alone could be fine for your situation. 

Let’s say you’re just starting off with a small personal blog right now. If you’re on a really tight budget, you might consider growing your blog organically before taking the plunge into mobile development. Creating mobile apps does involve some time and money. So if you’re not ready to commit, then it’s probably in your best interest to wait. 

You should also do some market research to make sure your app will offer something that people actually want or need. This will also help you stand out from your competitors. 

Step 2 — Brainstorm Features For Your App

Now you need to take some time and think about your app features. Instead of focusing on the features first, you can start by brainstorming functionality.

What problems will your app solve? How will your app be different from your website?

Remember, the app needs to be distinguishably different from your mobile site to be accepted by the app stores. You can’t just reformat the same content and put it into an app. 

While your initial list of features might be long, you’ll eventually want to narrow that list down to a shortlist of features that support your app’s primary purpose. Start with those features, and you can always add more down the road. 

Step 3 — Determine Your Budget

Take a look at your finances. How much money are you able to spend on an app? 

The answer to this question will be really important when you get to the next step, and it also plays a significant factor in your app’s features.

Generally speaking, complex apps with lots of features will be more expensive to build. But if you’re just creating a simple app with slight variations from your website, you can probably get away with spending significantly less. 

For example, BuildFire’s app development platform starts at just $159 per month. 

This is a cost-effective alternative to traditional development, which can cost upwards of $100,000 or more. 

Step 4 — Choose Your App Development Method

Based on your goals, budget, and technical capabilities, it’s time to select an app development method. Here’s a quick summary of the options we discussed earlier for creating mobile apps:

  • Website to app conversion tool
  • Code the app on your own
  • Hire a freelancer
  • Higher a development company
  • Use an app builder
  • BuildFire

Refer to our full guide on how to make an app for more information on different app development solutions. You can also get a free copy of our Buyer’s Guide for Mobile App Platforms ebook

Step 5 — App Design

Once you’ve chosen a development method, it’s time to start thinking about your app design. 

There are a couple of different options to consider here. First, you can simply sketch out the UX/UI design on your own before passing it off to an app designer. Alternatively, you can start with a template and customize everything on your own.

With BuildFire’s app builder, you don’t need to hire a designer or pass the project off to a design team. You do it all on your own. Check out our app design resources for inspiration, tips, and best practices. 

If you don’t want to design the app by yourself, that’s fine too. We also offer full-service design and development. 

Step 6 — Testing

Testing is something that you should do in stages throughout the development process. 

The best testing options depend on your development method. If you’re outsourcing the project to a development team, they’ll likely handle all of the testing on your behalf.

Making sure your app functions the way it’s supposed to without any bugs, glitches, or crashes is crucial—especially when you first launch. If your app doesn’t make a good impression on your audience, they likely won’t come back and use it again. But on the flip side, a great first impression helps ensure that the user will continue using your app again and again—allowing you to drive engagement and conversions. 

Step 7 — Prepare for the App Stores (Apple App Store for iOS and Google Play for Android Apps)

Start thinking about how your app is going to look and appear in the app stores. Just know that your iOS app has different guidelines from Android apps.

Each app store has unique rules and submission guidelines that you need to be aware of. 

Our complete guide to app store optimization (ASO) will help steer you in the right direction. If you use BuildFire to create your app, we’ll also help get your app published. You just need to make one click, and we’ll handle the rest on your behalf. 

Turn Website Into App — Final Thoughts

Ready to turn your website into a mobile app?

Sign up for a 14-day free trial of BuildFire. It’s the easiest and most powerful way to create an app for iOS and Android—no coding or technical skills required. Alternatively, you can let our team handle all the design and development for you with our all-inclusive app design and development services. Schedule your demo to learn more. 

How to Create Great User Stories For Your Mobile App

One of the most challenging parts of making an app is creating a final product that truly represents the initial vision. This is especially true for complex project requirements, where you need to translate ideas into tangible functionality. 

User stories simplify this process.

Whether you’re a developer, entrepreneur, business owner, or app development agency, understanding the power of user stories will ultimately help you deliver better software. 

This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about user stories, including how they work, why they’re important, user story examples, and how to write user stories for mobile apps. 

What is a User Story?

A user story describes what an app user wants to do within a software system to achieve something valuable. User stories are short, plain language descriptions of a goal from the end-user perspective. 

User stories do not describe a specific software feature or business objective.

A good user story is short, and clearly articulates who the user is, what they want to do, and why they want to accomplish something. 

User stories don’t need to be very descriptive. You can write a user story using informal language in a single sentence. Just include the following pattern:

  • Role — “As a [user persona]”
  • Feature — “I want to [complete an action]”
  • Benefit — “So that I can [get some value]”

When you put this user story template together, you might get something like this:

As a project manager, I want to stay organized, so I can keep my entire team on track.

This could easily be an example of a user story for project management software.

There are lots of different ways to showcase user stories—and they don’t have to be packaged as some type of formal final project. You can even write user stories on post-it notes, index cards, or share them digitally with your project team. 

Why Are User Stories So Important For a Software Development Team?

User stories have become crucial for agile software development. 

Before agile user stories were implemented, teams would spend weeks writing highly detailed requirements and specifications for a given software project. But there’s a disconnect here in the language used by programmers and developers compared to the language used by the general public. So there would often be confusion among stakeholders involved with the project.

Without an agile user story, the specifications would look something like this:

  • The app should do [this]
  • The app will do [that]
  • The feature will complete [something else]

But this type of direction is not helpful. You end up with long paragraphs of style details that many people working on the project won’t read or understand. Even the developers would skip over these, as they would instead look to start writing code as soon as possible.

User stories changed everything.

Today, user stories are known as the smallest unit for an agile framework. They can easily be added into different parts of one sprint to another within agile development.

Some of the top benefits of user stories include:

  • Focusing on the user — Using a checklist or to-do list will keep a project team task-oriented. But by following user stories, it keeps everyone concentrated on solving problems for the app users.
  • Promoting collaboration — User stories help define your end goals. This makes it much easier for teams to collaboratively decide the best route to take, ensuring that the end user’s needs will be best served.
  • Driving creativity — Instead of using uninspiring tasks or objectives to define the project, user stories encourage everyone to let their creative juices flow. This inspires critical thinking and problem solving based on user needs.
  • Building momentum — Each time a new user story gets achieved, the team feels a sense of accomplishment. These small wins help build momentum throughout the entire project, so the final product doesn’t feel like an insurmountable mountain to climb.

While user stories can be used for any type of product or project management initiative, they work great for application development. 

Key Elements of a Great User Story

The key components of a great user story can best be described by the acronym INVEST. This acronym was first coined by Bill Wake, an expert in the field of extreme programming and agile project development. 

INVEST has become the gold standard for defining success with user stories ever since. Let’s take a closer look at each part below:

Independent

Every user story must be treated as a single component within the whole project. 

This means that teams should be able to work on each story in any order, without any type of co-dependency from one user story to another. There should not be any overlap between stories, as this adds redundancy and confusion.

If any user stories are dependent on each other, it usually means that one can be omitted—whichever is less valuable.

Negotiable

Creating a user story relies on collaboration between clients, designers, programmers, and stakeholders. It starts with a conversation.

In a perfect world, everyone will be on the same page with the story—although that’s rarely the case. Stories should be written in a way so that the priority, project requirements, and scope can easily be changed. This aligns with other principles of agile project management. 

Valuable

Value is arguably the most important element of a user story.

If the story isn’t adding value to the end-user, eliminate it. Mobile apps must be designed to add value, and every story must be written keeping this concept top of mind. 

Estimable

Priority is another important aspect of user stories. 

Each story should be sized appropriately in a way that defines its priority level. High-value features with a long development process might not always get the highest level of priority in the development timeline. In some cases, it’s better to knock out quick wins and complete other stories first. 

Small

Every user story should be looked at as a small block of work within the larger project.

The exact size of the task or story depends on the project management method you’re using. Sometimes a story can be completed in a single sprint. Other times they could take longer. 

For agile methodologies, stories shouldn’t take more than three or four days of work.

Additional Reading: Project Management Methodologies For Mobile App Development

Testable

When a story is complete, it should be tested for the product. This ensures that every user story fulfills its acceptance criteria, which varies by the project. 

How to Write User Stories For Your Mobile App

Now that you understand what’s required of a good user story, it’s time to start creating user stories for your app. Follow the simple steps below to get started.

Identify Different User Personas

The first step of writing user stories is defining the types of users who will use your mobile application. This is different from identifying the target audience. 

A user persona describes what the person does when they’re connected to the app. It’s even possible that a single user could have multiple associations when using the product. 

For example, let’s look at an app that everyone is familiar with—YouTube.

Someone might use YouTube for educational purposes and learning new skills. But that same exact person could also use the app for entertainment. The user story for each of these scenarios would have different personas. 

Establish Goals For Different User Types

Now you should have a list of different user personas. For each persona, you need to define the goals for the end-user in your user stories. Think about why they’re using the mobile application. 

What goal will they gain by interacting with the app? 

Let’s stick with the YouTube user story example. 

The educational user’s goal might be finding the most informative video on a particular subject. Where an entertainment user’s goal might be discovering a closely related video recommendation upon completion of another. 

This will lay the groundwork for your software features. 

Define the “What” and “Why”

You’ve already answered the “who” of your user stories. Now it’s time to answer the “what” and “why” with user story mapping. 

User stories typically follow these guidelines:

  • What value is a feature going to provide the end-user?
  • Why does this specific type of user want to use the feature?

If you can’t answer the what and why, then you probably need to reevaluate the user story and its purpose within your mobile app. 

Define the Acceptance Criteria

We briefly talked about the acceptance criteria earlier in the “testable” part of the INVEST acronym for user story key elements. 

What exactly is the acceptance criteria?

Think of your user stories like any other story—it must be logical to make sense. Look back at the what and why, and answer it with “how.”

The acceptance criteria explains exactly how you’re going to deliver value to the other. You’ll answer this without getting into the intricacies of application development (this comes later in the process). But you’re going to use your imagination to play out how the story unfolds.

For example, you might say that a user could press a button to automatically share a location with their friends. Or maybe they need to perform a specific gesture to confirm their order before finalizing the checkout process. 

User Story Examples

Let’s take a closer look at some examples of user stories that you can use as a template or inspiration:

  • As a mobile commerce customer, I want a shopping cart button, so I can easily store items that I’m interested in purchasing.
  • As a dry cleaning customer, I want to receive a push notification when my order is done, so I can pick it up right away.
  • As a student, I want to invite my classmates to download the app, so we can work together on a project.
  • As a manager, I want an option for anonymous feedback, so my employees feel comfortable sharing information with me.
  • As an HR rep, I want to generate a report on employee feedback, so I can understand which departments need better training materials.
  • As a basketball player, I want a court reservation feature, so I can book a private time to practice at the gym.

By using a natural language description, like the examples above, a user story helps everyone understand the goal of a particular initiative within the app. 

Pro Tips and Best Practices for Writing User Stories

Before we finish up, I want to leave you with some proven tips for success when you’re writing user stories. Keep these in mind as you’re going through the steps described earlier in this guide:

  • Always write the user story from the user’s perspective. 
  • Keep the description simple. You can always add smaller user stories later for context.
  • Stay organized with a user story map so you can see the big picture of your backlog.
  • Create user stories before you start worrying about product features.
  • Use the stories as inspiration for your mobile app features. 
  • Encourage creativity and collaborative brainstorming from your development teams. 
  • Confirm the need for a feature before development begins. 
  • Use the user stories to estimate tasks to ensure your development team members can handle the workload.
  • If you’re stuck, you can start with “epics.” These are larger user stories that can eventually be broken down into smaller stories. 
  • Keep everything simple, concise, and in terms that everyone can understand. 
  • Continue to refine the stories until they’re ready.
  • Keep your stories in a place where they’re easily accessible and visible to every team member. 
  • Don’t rely on user stories alone to create an app. 

Final Thoughts

User stories describe the value given to a user when they want to perform an action within your app. 

Start by identifying the user personas. Then establish goals for each persona. User stories written down should answer the “what” and “why” related to each persona. Then you can use those questions to define the acceptance criteria.

Keep the INVEST acronym in mind as you’re writing user stories. 

You can follow the steps in this guide along with the user story examples as inspiration for getting started. 

What is an App Prototype?

Anyone can come up with an app idea. But your mobile app ideas alone probably won’t be enough to pitch investors or impress company stakeholders. 

Creating an app prototype will give you a significant advantage in these scenarios. 

When you create prototypes, it shows potential partners, investors, and stakeholders that you’re serious about the project. It also gives everyone an opportunity to see the look and feel of your software development project instead of just reading words on a page or hearing you talk.

This in-depth guide explains everything you need to know about mobile prototypes and how to make them. 

What is a Mobile App Prototype?

Mobile app prototypes are preliminary mock-ups that look and feel like real apps. App prototypes exhibit the app’s fundamental purpose and design but do not contain any functional code. 

App prototypes can come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are just basic sketches, while others are high-fidelity prototypes, interactive prototypes, or clickable prototypes. 

You can create different types of prototypes at each stage of the app design process. Your idea might start as a hand-drawn sketch on a piece of paper. These types of prototypes are crucial during the early brainstorming phases of app development, and they allow your design team to quickly iterate the ideas. 

Low-fidelity prototypes often transform into digital prototypes that showcase the app’s functionality. These prototypes display the app’s basic structure and big-picture vision.

Benefits of App Prototyping

There are lots of different advantages to prototyping in the development process. Let’s take a closer look at the top reasons why you should create a prototype:

  • Fast Iterations — Even if you already have a clear vision of your app concept, prototypes let your team cycle through multiple drafts and versions of the idea before writing any code. This helps with quick iterations during the planning stages and even helps validate ideas.
  • Improve Clarity — Prototypes help get your entire development team on the same page. They align the creative ideas with the designers, developers, project managers, and stakeholders. You can even use early prototypes to get quick feedback before proceeding with user testing or more advanced market research.
  • Enhanced Selling — For those of you taking your app idea to an investor pitch in an effort to receive funding, a prototype will help you stand out. It’s tough for prospective investors to pour money into an idea without knowing what the final product will look like. In addition to selling your ideas to investors, you can also use a prototype for selling your idea to your board of directors or even prospective customers. 
  • Low Risk — Creating a prototype gives you the opportunity to fail early with virtually no risk. During the prototyping process, you and your team may realize that the idea isn’t very practical and won’t turn out the way you initially envisioned. It’s much better to come to this realization at this stage when there’s very little investment in the project. 

How to Make a Mobile App Prototype

Now that you understand what a prototype is and why it’s so important, it’s time to create a prototype for your mobile app. Just follow these simple steps below to get started:

Define the Problem

The first step of creating an app prototype is similar to the first stage of making an app. You need to identify the problem that your app will solve. 

For some of you, this might seem fairly simple. But you’d be surprised how many people come up with an app idea just because it sounds cool—even though it’s actually not solving a problem or addressing a market need. 

If you’re going to pitch an app idea to investors, partners, or a board of directors, they’ll shoot it down immediately if it’s not meeting a market demand that solves a problem. 

Don’t try to skip or breeze through this process. Taking the time to clearly understand the goal and purpose of your app will become the foundation for every aspect of the development project.

Identify Key Functions

Now that you’ve figured out the problem, you need to come up with features that will address that problem. In short, you’re defining the app’s functionality.

You can start the brainstorming process by listing all potential features that the app could have. But then you’ll want to narrow the focus specifically to functions that serve as a core requirement for the app to work.

Don’t get carried away here. Yes, any app “could” have certain functions. But ask yourself—does it really need this function for the app to work?

If the answer is no, then you can skip it now for the prototyping phase. You can always come back to this idea later on down the line. Stick with a maximum of five key features and design your prototype around that functionality before you worry about all the screens.

Sketch Your Ideas

Now it’s time to take your ideas and put them on paper. This step is the earliest part of the design process and doesn’t require a prototyping tool just yet.

You can draw your initial sketches and UI elements with a pen and paper. 

Take the primary functions from the previous step and start to think about the user experience. How will the user interfaces look when real users want to complete a task using the app?

If you’re stuck, you can always look to existing apps for inspiration. Borrowing ideas from other successful apps on the market can really help mold and shape your sketches. 

These sketches aren’t supposed to have advanced animations or act as a working prototype. You just want to create a fluid UI for your first prototype that will eventually transform into something more tangible throughout the process. 

Use Your Sketch to Create a Wireframe

Now you can take your sketch and bring it to the next level by creating digital assets. Start with a low-fidelity wireframing tool to speed up the process.

Many people confuse wireframes with prototypes. While the two terms are related, they’re actually very different.

Wireframes will contain the basic layout and structure of the app, which is something you’ll need to create a prototype. But a prototype is much more advanced. 

The best prototypes show more attention to detail in terms of design and visuals. Some prototypes are even clickable and interactive. You can think of the wireframe as your bare-bones structure of the prototype at its most basic level. 

Turn Your Wireframe Into a Mobile App Prototype

As mentioned above, prototypes essentially turn wireframes into something more advanced. You’ll definitely want to use a prototyping tool to help you with this step, and we’ll discuss some options to consider shortly. 

While your wireframes can be sent to your team members for feedback, the target audience of a prototype is a bit different. Prototypes are better for sharing with executives, decision-makers, investors, or even potential customers. 

The idea of a prototype is to make the app feel real for anyone who might have a vested interest in the project. You can also hand a prototype off to your developers, so they have a better sense of what they’re building toward. 

I like to think of the prototype as a way to bring the wireframes to life. You’re adding legs and giving the wireframe some personality when you create a prototype. 

While a wireframe might just be used internally, a prototype is something that you can show off. You can add it to your website or even share it on social media as a way to build hype for your app and start promoting it before launch. 

Best Prototyping Tools For Mobile Apps

Creating an app prototype is easier when you’re using a prototyping tool. While there are various tools on the market that seemingly offer similar solutions, the following five options are a good place to start your search:

Figma

Figma is branded as a collaborative interface design solution. It’s a web-based graphics editor and prototyping tool that’s an industry favorite amongst the design community. 

This tool is really useful during the early stages of app development when you’re working collaboratively with a team for brainstorming. You can take advantage of its online whiteboard for workshopping ideas before bringing them to life with a prototype. 

Then you can take those ideas and have them at your fingertips as you bring the design work from ideation to execution. 

Figma even offers a free prototyping tool that you can use to design a mobile app

Moqups

Moqups is an all-in-one platform for wireframes, UI design, and prototypes. This prototyping tool has been used by more than two million people to create a prototype. 

The platform comes with out-of-the-box stencils for different use cases and design elements. This includes mobile app design for both iOS and Android. 

You can use an extensive list of fonts and styling options to bring your mockups to life and easily drag and drop images to the prototype to fit your branding. 

Plans for solo users start at just $13 per month. 

BuildFire

BuildFire is an app-building platform and app development service under one roof. It’s not actually a prototyping tool in the traditional sense, but you can still use BuildFire to create a prototype.

Here’s how. 

BuildFire Plus is our all-inclusive design and development service. Our team can take your idea and turn it into a reality through each step of the process, including pre-launch and post-launch initiatives.

During these early stages, we’ll create a wireframe and eventually turn that wireframe into a prototype before we start building anything. This service is ideal for anyone who would rather pass off the app development responsibilities to a trusted development partner. 

You’ll have the opportunity to review the wireframes and prototypes before any development begins, ensuring everyone is on the same page before the app gets built. 

Justinmind

Justinmind is a free prototyping tool and UI design platform for mobile and web apps. 

You can use it to transform your wireframes into a fully interactive prototype. 

Unlike some of the other tools on our list, Justinmind is not a web-based solution. You do need to download software to your computer to use Justinmind to make a prototype. It’s available for both macOS and Windows machines. 

The basic plan is free forever, and premium subscriptions for advanced interaction and design start at $9 per user per month. 

Proto.io

Proto.io is one of the most popular tools on the market for creating an app prototype. 

It was initially built to work on mobile devices, but the platform has since expanded to a web-based version that still supports any mobile app prototype initiative. 

What really makes this tool stand out from the crowd is its simplicity. It’s trusted by entrepreneurs, marketers, project managers, entrepreneurs, and UX designers. If you have a great idea and want to create a mobile app prototype, Proto.io makes it possible.

It’s a bit pricey compared to similar tools. There’s no free forever plan, and the entry-level package starts at $29 per month. 

You can save up to 20% by committing to an annual contract, and you can try Proto.io with a 15-day free trial. 

Final Thoughts on Mobile App Prototypes

Creating a prototype is a crucial step in the early stages of app development. 

You can make a prototype on your own by following the steps in this guide and using one of the prototyping tools on the list above.

Alternatively, you can reach out to BuildFire and let us create a prototype for you. 

Best App Building Software of 2022

Building mobile apps no longer requires coding skills and technical knowledge. With the help of app makers and app creation software, anyone can create their own mobile app without writing a single line of code. 

But not every app builder on the market is created equally. 

To help you find the best app development platform for your specific use case, we’ve reviewed and tested the best app makers and narrowed down the top ten options.

Top 10 Best App Building Software

Before you start building mobile apps, check out these reviews to see which app builder best fits your needs, app idea, and business model.

1. BuildFire

BuildFire is the most powerful app builder for iOS apps and Android apps on the market today. 

Trusted to create more than 10,000 mobile apps, it’s the easiest way for anyone, regardless of technical ability, to create an app from scratch and get it in the hands of real users. 

As a web-based solution, there are no software installation requirements or steep learning curves to get started. You can sign up for a free trial today and start building your app immediately. 

To get started, choose from a professionally-designed template in your app category. Then it’s just a matter of customizing the content to fit your vision.

Adding features and functions is simple. Just browse from the hundreds of pre-built functions on the BuildFire marketplace, and add them to your app with a single click.

What makes BuildFire stand out compared to other app builders is its limitless customization and scalability. You’ll never outgrow BuildFire, and you can always add custom features.

If you have a function in mind that you don’t see on the feature marketplace, just connect with a BuildFire rep, and the pro services team will build it for you.

BuildFire is the best way to build mobile apps quickly and for a fraction of the cost compared to traditional development. When you’re done building the app, you can get it live on the app stores with a single click. The BuildFire team understands the publishing requirements for the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, and they’ll assist you with the publishing process.

BuildFire’s app development platform starts at just $159 per month, and you can try it for free with a 14-day trial. 

2. Inspire U Mobile Apps

Inspire U is a no-code app builder that advertises the ability to build your own app in four hours.

It’s a simple and intuitive platform designed for creating custom mobile apps without any technical knowledge.

The company was founded by a marketing consultant that quickly realized the opportunity and demand in the app development space. After working with so many clients that needed an app, Inspire U Mobile Apps was born.

This customer-oriented brand is built on the foundation of hard work, quality, innovation, and trust.

They also run app development workshops to help teach people how to use the software. 

To learn more about Inspire U Mobile Apps, check out the full story here

3. Zoho Creator

Zoho Creator is a no-code app maker designed for business process solutions. 

Unlike some of the other tools on our list, you do need some technical knowledge to use Zoho Creator for app development. 

The platform has been used to create more than seven million business process apps. It’s commonly used for business processes like:

  • Sales management
  • Project management
  • Customer portals
  • Data management
  • Enterprise resource planning

For the most part, Zoho Creator isn’t really made for customer-facing apps. It does have a drag-and-drop interface but still requires some technical experience to get the most out of this tool.

If you have an in-house IT team and want to provide them with ways to improve internal workflows, Zoho Creator is a top option to consider. 

4. MobiLoud

MobiLoud is a basic solution for anyone that wants to quickly turn a website into a mobile app.

If you’re not worried about any customization and just want your site transformed into a web app or native mobile app, MobiLoud gets the job done.

While this is a quick solution for web apps, it’s not really a viable option for a business app.

A website in the form of a mobile app is going to be pretty restrictive. MobiLoud doesn’t quite have the same customization options as other app development solutions on the market.

It’s also worth noting that some app stores require differences between your website and app before they publish your app. So this method could cause your app to get rejected.

That said, if you’re in a pinch and need a super basic app as quickly as possible, MobiLoud can be a good temporary solution. 

5. Unity

Unity is a niche-specific app development solution.

If you’re interested in creating a mobile gaming app, this app development platform should definitely be on your radar.

The software comes with custom tools for iOS and Android—making sure you have the power to create whatever you need for the game to work well on native platforms.

Generally speaking, games are a bit more complex compared to other types of apps. So some technical skills and general tech knowledge will definitely be helpful if you’re using this platform.

They have a wide range of tools and resources, including:

  • 2D game tools
  • Universal render pipeline (URP)
  • A game library
  • Addressable asset scripting
  • Visual scripting
  • Augmented reality foundations
  • Analytics

If you’re ready to take your game idea and bring it to life, Unity is a solid option to consider. 

6. Swing2App

Swing2App is a simple app development platform based in Korea. 

If you’re looking for a basic and low-cost solution to create an app, this is a viable option to consider.

It’s worth noting that the platform doesn’t quite accommodate custom capabilities. Swing2App is more of a cookie-cutter solution, which really only supports basic mobile apps. 

Cookie-cutters are fine for some people, but they’re not always ideal for business use or monetizing apps. 

Lots of customers rely on this solution for converting a website to a mobile app. 

7. Skuid

Skuid entered the app development space in 2013. 

For nearly a decade, the tool has been used to develop apps for business productivity and internal solutions.

Similar to some of the other app makers on our list, Skuid isn’t really designed for customer-facing mobile apps. 

One unique standout of this mobile app builder software is its recent partnership with Salesforce. It was recognized for its ability to create apps that drive customer success using this well-known sales tool.

Skuid can be used to create apps for guiding sales, partner portals, people operations, and other internal business processes. 

They also pledge to give 1% of their equity, employee time, and product licenses back to the community.

8. Linx

Linx is a unique app development solution compared to other options we’ve reviewed so far.

Based in South Africa, this low-code development platform is designed for creating and hosting backend applications. 

Like other low-code solutions, Linx does require some technical knowledge. You can host on-premise or cloud solutions that contain built-in monitoring, management, and metrics.

Some examples of what you can build with Linx include:

  • Integrated systems (like mining and supplier integrations)
  • Backend web applications
  • Automated backend processors
  • Endpoints for Webhooks
  • APIs and microservices

It’s worth noting that this low-code IDE is probably the most complex solution on our list. While you technically don’t need to write code, some basic coding knowledge and technical skills are definitely helpful. 

Linx is built for developers. 

9. Alpha Software

Alpha Software provides mobile app development tools for both low-code and no-code apps.

It offers two different Alpha app development solutions—Alpha TransForm and AlphaAnywhere. 

You can use this platform to create cross-platform apps using a low code system. If you want to create a no-code app, then you can use it for things like automating workflows and digitizing paper forms. 

The platform offers offline capabilities, simple licensing, and the ability to integrate with any system.

It’s commonly trusted by SaaS solutions and professional services that have specific use cases. 

10. Xojo

Xojo is a solid app development option for developers that want to create a native app across multiple platforms.

You can use Xojo for desktop apps, web apps, mobile apps, and Raspberry Pi. 

Unlike other web-based tools on our list, Xojo does require a software download for you to use it. The software is compatible with macOS, Windows, and Linux machines.

Overall, Xojo is a beginner-friendly tool that’s designed for developers. 

It has more than 40+ built-in user interface tools that you can use to customize the look and feel of your app. The software also supports advanced features like inheritance and polymorphism.

How Do You Create Apps With an App Builder?

Using an app builder to create mobile apps is a bit different from traditional development. The best app makers don’t require any coding skills or programming knowledge to get started.

It’s worth noting that some low-code tools on our list are made for developers and do require some tech skills.

For no-code mobile apps, getting started is typically as easy as creating an account and choosing a template. You can do this directly from your web browser, without any software downloads or installations required.

Here’s a quick glance at what the initial stage looks like when you’re creating apps with BuildFire:

Once you’ve selected a template, you can dive straight into the app development process. 

Just set up your account, and you can immediately start adding features and functions from the marketplace. 

This process will look a little bit different for everyone, depending on the tools you’re using. For more information, check out our in-depth guide on how to make an app.

How to Find the Best App Builders

Now that you’ve had a chance to look at some of the best app development solutions on the market, it’s time to find the right app development software for you. Keep the following considerations in mind as you’re comparing options and narrowing down a shortlist. 

Ability to Create iOS and Android Apps

This is the first thing you should look for if you’re seeking mobile app development software for real users. The best tools let you create iOS apps and Android apps in a single build.

If you can’t simultaneously create Android native apps and iOS native apps using the platform, it’s going to add to your costs and extend your project deployment time.

App Development Timeline

How long will it take for you to create the app?

Some app development solutions say you can build the app in hours. Others advertise weeks or months. 

This answer is going to vary for everyone. It depends on what type of app you want to build and the features you’re adding. If you’re going to add custom features beyond the plug-and-play options offered by the software, it’s typically going to take a bit longer.

Free Trial

Always sign up for a free trial of app development software before you start building.

These trials are the best way to get a feel for the app builder and what the solution offers. After playing around testing a handful of these solutions, you should be able to quickly identify which one gives you the most flexibility. 

App Development Software Cost

Your budget is obviously an important factor when you’re comparing app development tools.

With that said, you shouldn’t look at price alone if you’re assessing two tools side-by-side. While one tool might have a lower price tag, it could be extremely limiting compared to tools with more custom options. 

Generally speaking, cheaper app development software translates to less flexibility. You’ll be bound by certain restrictions of the tool, making it tough to scale or add custom features. 

Some solutions might have a higher price point, but they come with pro services solutions and added support before, during, and after you launch the app.

Check out our guide on the value of mobile app development services vs. app builders to learn more about this concept. 

Customization

Lots of app makers on the market are rigid and don’t leave much room for customization. You’re bound by the limitations of the software and what that tool can handle.

BuildFire is the only app maker that truly allows you to create fully custom apps without writing any code. That’s because BuildFire offers limitless scalability and customization. 

If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the feature marketplace, BuildFire has a team of expert developers that can create custom functionality for you. 

Assess All the Features

This is something you can focus on during your free trial of an app development tool.

Assess the features and see if there’s something missing that you’d need to complete the full app. The best tools should include features for push notifications, analytics, app publishing, and more.

You can also look at the pre-built functionality for things like calendars, video integrations, polling, social walls, event management, images, ecommerce integrations—the list goes on and on. 

Ease of Use

Simplicity is key when you’re comparing app development tools.

If you don’t have any technical skills or coding knowledge, you need a solution that lets you create native mobile apps without writing any code. 

With any software, there’s always a slight learning curve. But you shouldn’t have to go through any complex training or courses to figure out the tool. Some solutions on our list are a bit more advanced and designed for developers. These often come in the form of low-code app development as opposed to no-code app development. 

White-Glove Support

Having a team of experts at your disposal definitely makes some tools stand out from the crowd.

If you have some questions or need something done for you, you’ll definitely want to lean towards a tool that offers white-glove assistance. This can range from basic questions about using the software to full-service feature creation. 

App Performance

The best app development software delivers a stunning final product. After all, isn’t that what’s most important?

Some tools might be cheap and easy, but the end result is a rigid app that crashes and has too many problems. 

Check out some of the existing apps that have been built using the software you’re considering. See if those apps perform well or if they have bugs and errors. You can also refer to the user reviews of those apps to see whether or not real users are happy with the in-app experience. 

App Submission Process

Development is just the beginning part of creating and managing an app.

But once the process is complete, how are you going to get your app live on the app stores?

The Apple App Store and Google Play Store each have a unique publishing process. So it’s in your best interest to use an app builder that provides a seamless submission process. 

White-Glove Support

Having a team of experts at your disposal definitely makes some tools stand out from the crowd.

If you have some questions or need something done for you, you’ll definitely want to lean towards a tool that offers white-glove assistance. This can range from basic questions about using the software to full-service feature creation. 

Final Thoughts on the Top App Building Software

The best mobile app development software should be easy to use, customizable, and built to scale. 

This guide contains something for everyone, but some of these tools definitely stand out compared to others. 

We also have an in-depth ebook—a Complete Buyer’s Guide to Mobile App Development Platforms that can help you narrow down your options and find the right solution for you.

If you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial of BuildFire and start making your app today.

Best Custom Software Development Companies

Custom software development is the design, creation, deployment, and maintenance process of a system or application. Unlike off-the-shelf software, custom development is unique and fully customized based on the requirements of specific users.

Software development services are commonly used for mobile app development, web development, business process automation, and similar use cases. 

But not all software development companies are created equally. Some specialize in certain areas of software development services, and others are undoubtedly better than the competition based on their reputation and the quality of software development offered.

If you’re seeking a custom solution for mobile app development, web app development, or another type of software development, you’ve come to the right place. This guide will help you find the best software development company for your unique situation. 

Top 10 Best Software Development Companies

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of custom software development options on the market today. But after extensive research, testing, and combing through real user reviews, we narrowed down the ten best software development companies for most businesses.

1. BuildFire

When it comes to custom software development for mobile apps, BuildFire is at the top of its class. This industry leader in the mobile app development space has been trusted to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps for clients across every industry imaginable. 

What makes BuildFire stand out from the crowd is its white-glove service. They’re more than just a custom software development company—BuildFire is a partner in your success.

BuildFire specializes in getting custom mobile apps to market fast and at an affordable price compared to other custom dev solutions. 

The team at BuildFire works with you through each stage of the development process, including the pre-development planning through the post-launch maintenance and updates. 

While other developers out there simply build your app and pass off the final product, BuildFire continues working with you to ensure the app can scale as your needs change over time.

Your journey with BuildFire starts with a free consultation to ensure the project is a mutual fit for both parties. Then the team takes your ideas and runs a competitive analysis to see how your app will stand up against industry leaders in your particular category. 

BuildFire also handles all of your designs, prototyping, wireframing, system architecture, and everything you need for custom software development. 

These custom software development services are trusted by mid-size organizations and enterprises in categories like ecommerce, education, fitness, events, internal communications, and so much more. 

Whether you need an internal app for your business or a public app for Android and iOS users on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, BuildFire has you covered. 

Schedule a free consultation to learn more.

2. Social Connection Marketing

Social Connection Marketing is a local digital marketing agency located in West Virginia. The firm is relatively new to the world of custom software development, but they’re already making a huge impact on its clients.

This agency got its start by offering traditional digital marketing services, specializing in videography for small businesses. With many of its clients requesting mobile apps, Social Connection Marketing eventually expanded its services, becoming a custom software development company in 2021.

Social Connection Marketing created a custom mobile app for a local county in West Virginia. The app showcases local businesses, schools, libraries, and other highlights of the area. 

Since creating this app, they’ve been contacted by other counties in the area about developing a similar project. 

They’ve also created mobile apps for local wedding planning companies to promote local vendors in this industry. 

You can read more about the Social Connection Marketing story and how they expanded from a digital marketing agency to a custom software development company. 

3. Altar.io

Altar.io is a European-based custom software development company. 

With offices in Lisbon, London, and Milan, this company specializes in software solutions like UX/UI design, UX wireframes, UI mockups, clickable prototypes, and more. 

They offer a seven-day project scope to help get your ideas organized and align your vision with your business goals. 

Altar.io also offers a unique service to quickly build an MVP (minimum viable product), helping you get your bare-bones idea to market as fast as possible. 

They’ve worked with organizations in financial technology, smart home technology, and other industry-specific niches. 

4. Experion Technologies

Experion Technologies has been in the custom software development space for nearly 15 years. 

They typically offer custom software development services to organizations across industries like healthcare, financial services, retail, and transportation. 

Experion Technologies is a bit smaller compared to other players in this space. They only have about 300 clients, but those customers are located in 30+ countries.

One unique standout of this firm is its focus on product engineering services. This goes beyond traditional development and includes blockchain, AI, machine learning, cloud services, cognitive computing, and more. 

The idea here is to focus on building forwarded-thinking software products to achieve business goals and provide innovation throughout the product life cycle. 

In addition to product development, Experion Technologies provides UX/UI services, product testing services, technology modernization consulting, and more. 

5. Brainhub

Brainhub is another custom software development company located in Europe. 

This software engineering company specializes in custom software development, web development, and application development using .NET, Node.js, React Native, ReactJS, and TypeScript.

Brainhub’s core services include web development, mobile development, desktop development, UI/UX design, product development, staff augmentation, and more.

They also offer tech and agile consulting to help streamline your technology, strategic planning, and overall product delivery. You can even lean on Brainhub for MVP development and product scaling. 

For organizations that have internal developers but don’t have the resources to create custom software, Brainhub can help. Your team can work with them to help create a custom tech stack for your software needs. 

6. Netguru

Netguru is a custom software development company based in Poland.

This firm was founded back in 2008 and has over 630 software developers on the team.

In addition to providing custom software solutions, Netguru specializes in agile project management. They market themselves as an on-demand agile product team. 

Their process includes a product design sprint, scoping session, UX review, and research before diving into custom software development. 

Within these larger service offerings, they offer additional agency services like UI design, illustrations, branding, and more. So if you’re interested in getting software services paired with web development, design, and project management, check out Netguru to learn more. 

7. Vates

Vates is a custom software development company based in South America.

They offer a wide range of software solutions, including application testing, big data, IoT, IT consulting, and more.

Vates also has custom software development services for Atlassian products, offering strategic consulting, installation, and training for these tools. 

This organization has more than 30 years of experience developing custom software. 

They offer functional testing, user acceptance testing, usability testing, compatibility testing, and other development tests. You can even use Vates for automated testing for desktop software, web software, and mobile software. 

8. OTAKOYI

OTAKOYI is a custom software development company based in eastern Europe. 

The company brands itself as having perfectionists and open-minded individuals on the team. They value radical honesty and use these qualities to offer consultancy with custom software development. 

Some of their core services include:

  • Web development
  • Mobile development
  • UI/UX design
  • Chatbots
  • Engagement platforms
  • Research and development (R&D)
  • DevOps
  • Software product development

OTAKOYI prides itself on only using world-class technologies that have stood the test of time, ensuring they can support your business goals for the long run. 

9. The NineHertz

The NineHertz is a US-based organization that launched back in 2008. 

In addition to custom software development, they also offer IT consulting services and boast an impressive 92% client retention rate.

The NineHertz made our list because of its very unique service offerings. 

This is a custom software development company that specializes in game development, which isn’t something that everyone offers. They create iOS games, Android games, 3D games, NFT games, AR games, video games, casino games, and more. 

The NineHertz also creates custom software for blockchain, crypto exchange, NFT marketplaces, NFT development, IoT, and more. 

If you’re seeking a solution in one of these niche categories, you can visit their website to learn more. 

10. Develtio

Develtio is a full-service software and custom software development company located in Warszawa, Poland. 

Founded in 2017, this firm is a relatively new player in the custom software development space. But they’re still delivering quality results to clients, earning them a spot on our list.

Develtio specializes in unique dev services like:

  • Website maintenance (SLA)
  • Web development
  • Mobile development
  • Software development
  • WordPress development
  • Chatbots

Their web services and online stores really make this company stand out from the crowd.

Develtio has a team of 50+ experts, including project managers, UX designers, UI designers, copywriters, and programmers.

Check them out if you need help with a custom web development project.

How to Find the Best Custom Software Development Company

Now that you’ve seen the top development companies on our list, it’s time to narrow down your options to find the best custom software development solution for your specific needs. 

You can use the criteria below as a buying guide to help steer you in the right direction:

Mobile App Development

If you want to create a mobile app, you need to find a custom software development firm that specializes in these services. For mobile app development, it’s best to stick with development companies that offer app development as its core service. 

You’ll see mobile app development listed as a service on many websites, but that doesn’t mean the company is a specialist in that field. Instead, go with a solution that lives and breathes mobile apps.

Web Development Services and Web Apps

Web and mobile developers are two different breeds. So if you have custom web development needs, you can’t always get that from a mobile app developer. 

Try to find a web development company that offers a wide range of web development services under one roof. This goes beyond custom software development and includes web design, custom tech stacks, and more.

If you have a specific web application need, like a customer portal or internal solution, look for a company that has experience with those types of projects. 

Small Business vs. Enterprise Software Development Company

Development companies come in all different shapes and sizes. Not all of them are equipped to handle the needs of just any business that contacts them.

Make sure the agency you’re considering has experience working with companies similar to yours. For example, if you’re a small business or a startup, some enterprise software development companies may not even consider working with you.

Conversely, if you’re in the mid-market or SME space, you probably shouldn’t be working with a small-town firm.

Location of Software Developers

Working with a global software development company can be attractive for many organizations, especially if you’re trying to save some money by outsourcing a project overseas. 

While this may work fine for simple projects, this isn’t always the best route for custom software development. 

You want to make sure that your custom software developer is easily accessible. If you’re in the US, working with a company in Europe or Asia can pose some challenges with time differences and language barriers. So just keep that in mind when you’re creating a shortlist of contenders. 

Software Maintenance

Application creation is actually just one component of custom software development. You also need to consider how you’ll be assisted with software maintenance.

If the company you’re using is just going to hand off the project and run away, then it will be your responsibility to maintain everything. Most businesses don’t want that burden.

Look for a solution that offers post-launch maintenance and support. This includes things like content updates, tech updates, server maintenance, and everything you need to make sure your software continues running smoothly for its entire life cycle. 

Experience of Software Developers

Custom software development takes a lot of practice. The success of your project is directly tied to the developers you’re working with. 

In fairness, every custom software developer needs to start somewhere—but you shouldn’t volunteer to be their guinea pig or experiment.

Working with a reputable agency with an entire team of developers is your best bet. They’ll work collectively to ensure you’re getting exactly what you ask without cutting any corners.

That’s why it’s better to work with an app development company compared to freelancers

Price of Custom Software Development

The cost of your project obviously needs to be taken into consideration. But it shouldn’t be the sole factor in your decision. 

Cheaper isn’t always better, and the most expensive option doesn’t always translate to the highest quality. 

Check out our guide on mobile app development costs to learn more about what to expect as you’re pricing out different options and getting quotes.

Final Thoughts on the Top Custom Software Development Services

Custom software development is the best way to get what you want without buying a cookie-cutter solution. 

There are tons of great development companies out there offering services for mobile app development, web development, desktop app development, design, project management, game development, and so much more.

The top software development companies on our list each specialize in something unique, making it easier to find the best option for your specific needs. 

For more information, refer to our complete learning hub for outsourcing app development. This page has tons of relevant guides that will help steer you in the right direction as you’re making such an important decision. 

Create a Shopping App

The ecommerce industry is booming, and mobile shopping trends dominate the overall ecommerce category. 

In fact, 73% of the total ecommerce market share worldwide comes from mobile commerce. 79% of mobile users have purchased something online from a mobile device within the past six months.

But not all mobile shopping experiences are created equally. 85% of people say they prefer mobile apps to mobile sites, and apps convert at a 157% higher rate compared to the mobile web. 

So if you want to maximize the potential of your ecommerce operation, creating a shopping app is the way to go.

This ultimate guide will walk you through the step-by-step process to create a shopping app.

How to Create a Shopping App in 9 Steps

Anyone can make a shopping app by following these simple steps:

  1. Market Research for Your Online Store
  2. Platform and Tech Stack Selection
  3. Choose Agency for Shopping App Development
  4. Identify Features for Minimum Viable Product
  5. List Additional Features for Your Store to Stand Out in the Future
  6. Create a Mockup of Your Online Store App
  7. Begin Mobile Shopping App Development Process
  8. Test Your Shopping App
  9. Launch Your Shopping App

By the end of this guide, you’ll have a complete understanding of shopping app development and how to succeed in this space. Let’s dive in!

Step 1 — Market Research for Your Online Store

Before you start building anything, you need to validate your idea with market research. This step will look a little bit different for everyone, depending on the stage of your business.

There’s a good chance you fall into one of two categories:

  • You have an existing ecommerce business and want to add a mobile app
  • You’re starting a new business from scratch and want a mobile app on day one

For those of you who are already selling products online, you probably went through the market research step when your business first launched. So some of these tasks may be a bit repetitive. 

Anyone starting a new shopping business from scratch must take the market research step very seriously. Otherwise, you could pour money into a business that the market doesn’t want or need.

Identify Customer Needs and Requirements

The first thing you need to do is identify a target customer profile. Who are you selling to?

Selling to “everyone” is not a recipe for success. You need to narrow things down to an ideal customer profile. Then you need to find out if your products actually meet a market need for your ideal customer. 

Running a SWOT analysis is the best way to start your research.

This process not only looks at your potential customers but it forces you to evaluate your internal initiatives, competitors, and overall market landscape. 

Very few new businesses offer something that’s 100% unique to the market. There’s a good chance there are other online stores and shopping apps selling something that’s almost identical to your offer. 

What makes your product unique to the market? Are you taking a broad product and targeting a niche audience? How will your value proposition stand out from the competition?

These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself and answer with confidence before you can proceed.

Business Model

Shopping apps typically fall into three different models:

  • B2C — Business selling products directly to consumers.
  • B2B — Business selling products to other businesses, sometimes at wholesale.
  • C2C — Customers selling to other customers through an online marketplace (like eBay or Etsy).

Which model are you going to use for your shopping app? 

Monetization Strategy

Next, you need to determine how you’re going to make money from your shopping app.

Compared to other mobile app categories, shopping apps are fairly straightforward. For B2C and B2B shopping apps, your primary focus should be sales revenue. I would not recommend adding ads to your shopping app, as this can ruin the customer experience.

For C2C shopping apps, you can make money by either charging sellers a fee to use the platform or by taking a commission of each sale. You could potentially charge for promoted products to appear high in the search results as well.

Step 2 — Platform and Tech Stack Selection

Once your idea has market validation, you can start to think about the technical aspects of your shopping app. 

Choose Your Platform

What platforms are you building for?

  • Android — Android apps are available for download on the Google Play Store. Android dominates the global market share, with 71.7% of smartphone users owning an Android device. 
  • iOS — iOS apps are available to download on the Apple App Store. It’s a bit more challenging to get your apps approved for the App Store, and iOS controls 53.66% of the OS market share in North America. 

If you’re strictly targeting users in countries outside of North America, it makes more sense to build for Android. But if you’re targeting North American consumers, building for both iOS and Android is the best option. 

This will make your shopping app available to the widest possible audience, and you won’t be neglecting any potential consumers. 

Native Development

Next, you need to decide on how you’re going to create a shopping app for the platform or platforms you’re targeting. 

Native app development requires low-level coding specifically for a single operating system.

So if you want to create an Android and iOS app through native development, you’d essentially be building two completely different apps—one for each operating system. 

This is the most time-consuming and most expensive path to development, and it’s typically not necessary for basic shopping apps. 

If you want to add complex features like augmented reality built into the app, then you might need to go native. But otherwise, this development path is only necessary for gaming apps, virtual reality apps, or apps that require precision and the highest possible performance. 

Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform app development is typically the best option for most shopping apps. This means that you can create an app for both iOS and Android with a single build and codebase. 

Cross-platform development typically saves you at least 40% on development costs and drastically reduces your development timeline. 

If you want to create a shopping app on your own without hiring a developer, you can take advantage of no-code ecommerce app makers like BuildFire. 

It’s a simple and cost-effective way to create an ecommerce app for iOS and Android without writing a single line of code. So even non-technical users can do this on their own.

Step 3 — Choose Agency for Shopping App Development

Assuming you’re not going to create the app on your own, you need to find an agency that can create a shopping app for you.

This is typically better than hiring a freelance team that hasn’t worked together before. There are lots of different roles and responsibilities in the app development process, so it’s usually best to go with an agency that has a proven track record. 

Team Composition

The exact number of developers and team members required will vary slightly depending on your project scope. But here’s a general idea of the positions required to create a shopping app:

  • Android developer
  • iOS developer
  • UX designer
  • UI designer
  • Project manager
  • Web developer
  • Quality assurance agents

Again, this is why it’s much easier to just go through an agency. Assembling a team like this on your own is challenging. Ecommerce app development agencies will have all of the resources in-house to accommodate your needs. 

How Much Does it Cost to Create a Shopping App?

The average cost to create a shopping app ranges from $30,000 to $700,000, with a median of $171,450, according to a recent survey,

But there are lots of different factors that contribute to the cost, including:

  • Development method (native vs. cross-platform)
  • Location of development team
  • App complexity
  • Features
  • Tech stack

For example, hiring a freelance developer in India to create your app will likely be cheaper than using a US-based agency. But there will likely be a significant difference in the quality of the final product between these two options as well.

Using a cross-platform development solution is one of the best ways to save money here, as you won’t need to create two separate apps for iOS and Android. You can make an app for both platforms with a single build.

Discovery Phase

The discovery phase is an important step here when you’re consulting with different agencies. You can shop around and get a quote from your top considerations to get a better understanding of the cost, timeline, and other factors.

Essentially, you just want to get a feel for the agency and see if they sound like a good partner for your shopping app development project.

BuildFire Plus is our all-inclusive app development service. 

We offer everything from pre-development strategy sessions to post-launch maintenance and support. We’ll help you run a competitive analysis to validate your idea and get started with prototypes, wireframes, and mockups before the build. 

Our expert development team can create a custom shopping app for iOS and Android faster than traditional development solutions without sacrificing quality. We’ll work with you each step of the way to ensure your app achieves its intended goals. 

Step 4 — Identify Essential Features for Your Shopping Application

Now it’s time to think about the features you want to include in your shopping app. Try not to get too carried away here with the “nice-to-have” features. First, focus on the bare minimum and essentials required for your app to run smoothly.

You can always add more features later. 

We’ll cover some examples of different essential features in greater detail below:

User Registration and Sign-In Process

The best shopping apps offer the ability for users to sign up and create an account. This gives them the ability to save key information in the app, like their name, shipping address, billing address, and payment information.

This will help increase your conversion rates as your users won’t have to manually enter these details for each purchase. They can simply add something to their shopping cart and buy it with a single click. 

Letting users create an account can also help you customize their shopping experience with recommended items based on their purchase history. 

Easy Navigation

It should be really easy for users to find what they’re looking for when they’re browsing for products in the app. A good rule of thumb is that every product page should be no more than three clicks from the home screen.

That’s why it’s so important to put your wireframes on paper before you start building anything, as this will help you design a smooth user flow. You can borrow ideas from big players like Amazon to map out your navigation. 

User Profile Editing

Give users the ability to edit their profiles with preferences. Registration should only ask for the minimum information required to create an account. But give them the option to go back and change their settings at any time for an enhanced customer experience.

For example, users shouldn’t have to enter their birthday to register. But you can ask them to add that information to their profiles later on if they want to receive special deals on their birthday. 

This is a chance for them to customize other preferences, like managing what types of push notifications they want to receive. 

Product Catalog

Obviously, you need to sync your shopping app with your product catalog. This is not only necessary for the app’s functionality, but it will also help you manage inventory and fulfillment. 

For example, if you have an existing Shopify store, you can simply sync your Shopify account to the app to import the product catalog. 

In-App Smart Search Engine

This feature is really important for any shopping app with more than a dozen or so products. 

You can’t expect users to scroll through hundreds or thousands of products to find what they’re looking for. So you need to give them the option to search for products by name or narrow down the results through a search filter. Filter options could include parameters like gender, size, color, product type, etc.

User Reviews

Roughly 95% of consumers read reviews before they buy something. 

That’s not all. According to BigCommerce, products with at least five reviews are 270% more likely to sell. 

It’s no secret that user reviews have an influence on mobile purchasing decisions. So make sure you include reviews on your product pages. 

Shopping Cart

Obviously, you need to have a shopping cart feature and payment gateway to process transactions. 

There are hundreds of options to consider here, like Stripe. In many cases, you can use the same shopping cart solution that you’re using on your website. Otherwise, you can talk to your development agency to see what they recommend.

Easy Checkout and Payment Options

The best shopping apps have a smooth checkout process. Eliminate any friction in this process and make sure that customers can add items to their cart and finalize the purchase with as few clicks as possible.

Offering as many payment options as possible is another way to keep conversions high.

The options will typically depend on the shopping cart software you’ve selected. But the best shopping carts will support:

  • All major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Discover)
  • Debit cards
  • PayPal
  • Apple Pay
  • Google Pay

This is the bare minimum that you should be accepting. But the more payment options you have, the better it will be for your conversion rates. 

Ideally, you’ll want users to buy from their profile. But having a mandatory login can be problematic, so you should still offer a guest checkout option. 

Shipping Options

You should offer some form of free shipping option, even if you require users to spend a certain amount of money to receive free shipping. Roughly 70% of consumers say they abandon shopping carts due to shipping costs. 

Offering multiple shipping options at varying costs can also boost conversions. Give your customers the option based on how quickly they want the shipment. Examples include:

  • Free standard shipping (5-7 business days)
  • $7 rush shipping (3-5 business days)
  • $25 expedited shipping (next day)

Again, it’s all about giving your customers as many options as possible to accommodate their needs.

Key Admin Panel Features for Online Shopping Apps

In addition to the customer-facing features for your shopping app, you need to consider the features that you’re going to use on the admin side to manage your application. 

  • Order Tracking
  • Inventory Management
  • Catalog App Builder for Product Management
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
  • Customer Support Tools

This is something you need to evaluate when you’re comparing different development solutions and agencies. See what they’re going to offer you in terms of management features and how those features will impact your costs.

Step 5 — Identify Additional Features That Help Your Store Stand Out

Now you can start thinking about other features that go beyond the basic functionality mentioned above. To be clear, you do not need to add these additional features right now. 

For your first build, you should focus on simplicity and getting your app to work as it’s intended. Adding too many features at once can be messy and ultimately take away from your app’s primary purpose. 

With that said, you can start to brainstorm these ideas now and think about them for future updates. Examples include:

  • Customer wish lists
  • iBeacon
  • Maps
  • Augmented reality
  • Machine learning
  • Social media sharing options
  • Barcode scanner
  • Push notifications
  • Chatbot for improved customer service

Again, none of these features are required for your ecommerce app to work. But they are “nice-to-haves” that could ultimately help your app stand out from competitors.

For example, if you’re creating a shopping app as an extension of your brick-and-mortar retail business, adding a barcode scanner can enhance the in-person shopping experience with mobile. Users could scan a product in-store to see user reviews and save it to their wish list for a later purchase. 

But for now, you probably don’t need to worry about adding these features. Just focus on getting your app to market. 

Step 6 — Create a Mockup of Your Online Store App

Mockups are non-functional static designs of an app. This will help you and your team understand the look and feel of your final product. 

The purpose here is to help establish things like fonts, visuals, images, content layouts, color schemes, and the overall user experience from a design standpoint. 

Wireframes, designs, mockups, and prototyping are all part of the BuildFire Plus white-glove service offering. 

This stage ensures that you’re on the same page with our design and development team before they start building your app. 

Step 7 — Begin Mobile Shopping App Development Process

By now, you should know the answer to the following questions:

  • What platform or platforms are you building on?
  • What development method are you using?
  • What app development company are you proceeding with?
  • What features do you need for an MVP (minimum viable product)?

Now you can actually start building the shopping app. If you’re outsourcing this to a development company, then there’s really not much work for you to do here.

Just make sure you have a basic understanding of the development timeline and have a rough idea of when the app will be ready. In the meantime, you can start putting together promotional materials and build some hype for your app with marketing strategies prior to the official launch.

Step 8 — Test Your Shopping App

Once the app is finished, you need to test it before making it available for real users. 

First, you need to make sure the app is bug-free. Then you need to verify that it works as intended. There are lots of different approaches for application testing, including alpha testing, beta testing, user testing, and more. 

Aside from looking at software glitches, you should use this as an opportunity to gather user feedback and conduct additional research. 

No app is perfect, and there’s always room for improvement. So try not to focus on getting everything perfect prior to launch. Otherwise, you’ll be stuck in development forever.

But the idea here is to put out a product that’s fast and functional without crashing. 

Step 9 — Launch Your Shopping App

Now it’s time to officially launch your shopping app!

You’ll need to get it submitted to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. Each of these platforms has different requirements for approvals and submissions, so make sure you understand the guidelines thoroughly before submitting.

Examples of what you’ll need here include an app name, description, screenshots, app category, and an app icon. 

To ensure your app is highly visible in searches, check out our complete guide to app store optimization (ASO)

Make sure you’re promoting your app on your website, social media, and as many channels as possible to get the word out. Your app marketing strategy will have a direct impact on your downloads.

Conclusion

Shopping apps are superior to mobile websites in terms of revenue generation, conversions, and customer satisfaction. 

If you’re ready to get started, reach out to our team at BuildFire for a free strategy session. We can create a custom ecommerce app with all of the features you need to succeed. We’ll assist you with the pre-development steps and even handle your post-launch updates and maintenance. 

Click here to book your free consultation.

How to Publish an App to the App Store

Creating a new app is exciting. But getting that app into the hands of real users isn’t always easy.

First, you need to publish your app to the App Store so it’s available for download.

The two major app stores are the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store—one for iOS and one for Android. But each platform has its own unique guidelines, rules, and submission requirements. 

This guide is going to focus specifically on publishing an iOS app to the Apple App Store. Once the app is published here, it can be downloaded on an iPhone or iPad.

It’s worth noting that Apple is very particular with its submission guidelines. You’ll need an Apple Developer account, and the App Store listing must match the app’s functionality. There are lots of other small details that Apple takes into consideration before they’ll approve apps.

That’s because Apple wants to protect its users. Apple wants its user base to feel comfortable knowing that any app downloaded from the Apple App Store is safe and won’t break their devices.

Ready to get started? Let’s dive in!

Where to Start: Submitting an iOS App to the App Store

Submitting your iOS app to the App Store is the final stage of development. By now, the app should already be built, tested thoroughly, and you should have an app name that you’re confident in using. 

If your app is still in development, there’s nothing wrong with looking ahead toward the App Store submission. Just know that it’s too early to take any of these steps. Apple won’t approve any unfinished apps to the store, even if you have all of the other app information required for the listing. 

You should also consider the legal prerequisites of launching a mobile app. For example, if you’re launching an app in EU markets, the app must comply with GDPR guidelines. If you’re going to offer app purchases and collect payments through the app, you’ll need to think about things like PCI compliance as well. 

How you’re collecting, handling, and sharing user data is really important here. You should refer to the official Agreements and Guidelines for Apple Developers to ensure you’re following all of the appropriate requirements regarding user data. 

App submissions must only have content that was either created by you or that you have the proper authority to use. If you’re using content from another source without the proper legal licenses or permissions, it can be grounds for either rejecting your app from the App Store or getting it removed from the App Store.

You’ll need to have an Apple Developer account and Apple ID as well. Submitting your app from a computer running on macOS is not a requirement, but it’s definitely common considering the software and tools you’ll be using.

For example, if you’re using Xcode to create an iOS app for iPhone and iPad, you can take steps to prepare your app for publishing directly in the IDE.

App Store Submission Requirements

Before we get into the steps required for publishing, you need to understand the App Store guidelines for app submission.

You can review all of the App Store review guidelines here. These are some important points to keep in mind:

  • Developers are responsible for making sure everything in the app complies with Apple’s guidelines, including analytics services, third-party SDKs, ad networks, and more.
  • Attempting to cheat the review system or manipulate ratings is grounds to remove your app and kick you out of the developer program.
  • You must comply with Apple’s guidelines regarding apps for kids.
  • Apps may not include objectionable content (discrimination, explicit materials, etc.).
  • The app’s privacy policy must comply with all Apple guidelines. 
  • Apps must be complete and fully functional before you submit them for review.
  • Apple has certain technical requirements and software standards that must be followed.
  • You may not just copy another app and make subtle changes to pass it off as your own.
  • Apps must have minimum functionality that goes beyond a mobile website.

In total, the App Store Review Guidelines are quite lengthy. There are five major categories—safety, performance, business, design, and legal. Each section is broken down into different subsections, like this:

So give yourself ample time to review this document in detail before you go through the steps for submission.

6 Steps to Submit and Publish an iOS App

The App Store publishing process can be summarized in just six steps. 

  1. Sign up for the Apple developer program
  2. Prepare the app for submission
  3. Create a listing via App Store Connect
  4. Capture App Store screenshots
  5. Upload the app using Xcode
  6. Submit the app to be reviewed by Apple

We’ll cover each step in greater detail below:

Step 1 — Join the Apple Developer Program

You must be a member of the Apple Developer Program to submit an app to the App Store. So if you haven’t done so already, sign up for an Apple developer account

If you’re enrolling as an individual or sole proprietor, you can sign in using your Apple ID and enable two-factor authentication. Apple will ask you for some personal information, like your legal name and address.

To enroll in the developer program as an organization, you’ll also need an Apple ID with two-factor authentication enabled. In addition to the Apple ID, enrollment requires:

  • D-U-N-S Number
  • Legal Entity Status
  • Legal Binding Authority
  • Website

Just click “Start Your Enrollment” on this page to get started.

The membership pricing starts at $99 per year, and it gives you access to other exclusive Apple developer tools and services. 

You can use the account to manage your apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. The membership also comes with beta software, app analytics, testing tools, and everything you need to manage your App Store listing. 

Apple developers also have access to TestFlight—a way to collect feedback from up to 10,000+ testers before submitting the app to the App Store. You can invite them with an email address or public link.

Step 2 — Prepare the App for Submission

Identifying bugs and problems with your app before submitting it to the app store is just one aspect of app development. There are other things you must do to get it ready for review.

First, you need to set the bundle ID in Xcode. This is used to uniquely identify your app in the system. Xcode will give you a default identifier when you create a project from a template, but it’s important to create one that’s unique. Just be aware that you cannot change the bundle ID after it’s been uploaded to App Store Connect. 

You can adjust these settings in the “General” menu of your project editor in Xcode.

Next, you need to configure your app version number and build string. The version number will appear in the App Store, and it’s expected to be in a format of [Major].[Minor].[Patch], such as 9.12.1.

Apple requires you to set an app category with your submission. This is designed to help users discover your app in the App Store. Options include:

  • Books
  • Business
  • Developer Tools
  • Music
  • Medical
  • Navigation
  • Education
  • News
  • Finance
  • Photo & Video
  • Productivity
  • Food & Drink
  • Reference
  • Games
  • Graphics & Design
  • Shopping
  • Social Networking
  • Lifestyle
  • Sports
  • Kids
  • Travel
  • Magazines & Newspapers
  • Utilities
  • Weather

Primary categories must match the primary purpose and function of your app. Choosing a category that doesn’t fit your app’s functionality is against Apple’s guidelines and grounds for removal. 

You need to prepare an app icon and provide a launch screen as well. The launch screen is the UI that appears when your app launches and quickly disappears when the first screen loads. The purpose of a launch screen is to enhance the UX by offering some visuals while the app is loading. 

Review all of Apple’s official guidelines to prepare your app for distribution. 

Step 3 — Create a Listing via App Store Connect

The App Store Connect is where members of the Apple Developer Program can upload apps, submit apps, and manage apps post-launch. It comes with everything from sales reports to analytics, test resources, and more. 

Here’s a quick overview of how to create a listing for App Store Connect:

  • Log into your account
  • Select the “+” button from the “My Apps” menu
  • Add the platform (iOS), primary language, bundle ID, and SKU
  • Add the app name and category
  • Provide a URL to your app’s privacy policy
  • Choose your app’s pricing

You’ll also have the option to decide how your app is released after the review information is approved. 

You can manually sign back into App Store Connect and release it when you’re ready, or set it to be published on a certain date (assuming it passes certification). Apple gives you the option to select the app to be released immediately following its approval as well. 

Step 4 — Capture App Store Screenshots

Now it’s time to prepare your screenshots for the App Store. There are two basic approaches here that you can follow. You can either use raw screenshots from your app or use a mockup template to showcase your app.

These screenshots are the perfect way to help showcase to the world what your app does and how it works when they find you in the App Store. 

Here’s an example of how Delta Airlines uses app screenshots to showcase its top features:

Apple does have a lot of different screenshot specifications for app previews that you must take into consideration. That’s because they have so many different devices on the market.

iPhones range from 4.7-inch screens to 6.5 inches. iPads range all the way up to 12.9 inches.

You can view all of Apple’s screenshot specifications here. I also recommend reviewing this API collection resource for app screenshots for more technical requirements.

Step 5 — Upload the App Using Xcode

Now it’s time to actually upload your app from Xcode. Do not proceed with this step until you’re confident that the app is free of bugs and it runs as intended. If the app doesn’t function, it won’t get approved for the App Store. 

For new apps, the version should be set to 1.0.0. 

Xcode 11 makes the publishing process really easy. In the past, lots of extra steps were required. But not most of the work now gets handled in a couple of clicks. 

Start by creating a full app archive. Go to your list of simulators in Xcode and click “Generic iOS Device” from the menu. 

Then select “Product” and “Archive.” This will prompt Xcode to bundle your app. Depending on the size, this could take quite a bit of time. 

Once this process is complete, just go to the “Archives” tab, and click “Distribute App” on the right side of your screen. Then select “iOS App Store” when it asks for your method of distribution.

Xcode will go through a few steps to ensure you’re not trying to upload a broken app. If something is missing or there’s a problem, Xcode will likely stop the upload and ask you to add missing assets. 

You should see some type of confirmation on the screen when the upload is successful. 

Step 6 — Submit the App for Review

By now, the archive from Xcode has been sent to App Store Connect. But you still might have to wait until App Store Connect actually processes the upload. So don’t freak out if it’s not showing up in your account right away. 

You should get an email when the archive is officially processed and ready for you. This can save you some time so you don’t have to keep manually checking.

Once it’s available, just select the archive and click the “Submit for Review” button at the top right of the page.

According to Apple, 50% of apps get reviewed within 24 hours and 90% are reviewed in 48 hours. So assuming your submission is complete, there’s a good chance you’ll have an answer within two days.

The app’s status will get updated upon review, and you’ll receive a notification with the status change. 

Conclusion

Publishing an iOS app and going through the Apple review process might seem a bit intimidating, especially if you’ve never done this before. But if you create an app with BuildFire, we’ll handle the publishing process on your behalf. 

You’ll still need to create your own Google and Apple Developer accounts, but our team will handle the majority of the heavy lifting. So you won’t have to worry about most of the steps in this guide. 

If you’re still in the planning stages of your app project, request a consultation to see if BuildFire is the right partner to achieve your goals. 

How to Distribute an iOS App Without Using App Stores

How to Distribute an iOS App Without Using App Stores

Publishing an iOS app on the Apple App Store is not mandatory. As an app developer, you actually have multiple distribution methods to consider.

The App Store is definitely the best option for mass distribution. But if you’re creating an internal mobile app for your business or custom apps for B2B purposes, you may want to keep the app private and only available for certain users.

Think about it—you wouldn’t want a random person to access an app built for your employees, right? In this scenario, you need more control over each mobile device that the app gets installed on. The public App Store isn’t an option.

This simple guide will show you exactly how to distribute your iOS app without using the Apple App Store. Let’s dive in.

iOS App Distribution Without Apple’s App Store

Most iOS apps are made for the Apple App Store. But the App Store is public and gives anyone with an iOS device the opportunity to download. 

According to Statista, more than 43 billion apps will be downloaded from the App Store in 2025.

As you can see from the graph, the Google Play Store is projected to have more than four times the number of app downloads that same year. This is largely due to Android dominating the global market share. 

But it’s also worth noting that Apple has a much stricter approval process for developers that want to publish an app to the App Store.

This same concept holds true for private app distribution. Compared to Android, distributing apps outside of the App Store is much more complicated for iOS apps. Apple does offer a few options for specific use cases. But the direct download and installation of any iOS binary files is strictly prohibited by Apple. 

Apple’s Solutions for Alternative App Distribution

There are three ways to distribute an iOS app without the App Store:

  • Apple Developer Program — The Apple Developer program makes it possible to distribute apps for testing purposes only.
  • Apple Developer Enterprise Program — The Apple Enterprise Program is intended for organizations that want to distribute apps internally and privately to employees.
  • Volume Purchase Program for Enterprises — The VPP app deployment method allows organizations to create a private app store to manage apps in bulk, typically used for custom B2B apps and MDM (mobile device management).

We’ll discuss each of these distribution methods in greater detail below, so you can find the best option for your app.

Beta App Distribution Using the Apple Apple Developer Program

This iOS app distribution method is designed specifically for testing. Developers can distribute a prerelease version of an app to a specific group of people for beta testing purposes. 

You must have an Apple Developer Program account to do this. The Apple Developer Program membership costs $99 per year. Nonprofits, government entities, and educational institutions might be eligible for a fee waiver.

This is the only scenario where an app intended for a mass audience can be distributed privately. But the distribution is only allowed during the testing stage and limited to a certain number of devices. Beta distributions are limited to 100 iPhones, 100 iPads, and 100 iPod touch installations. 

Releasing your app to beta testers won’t be the same as distributing a fully complete, fully functioning, ready-for-release app. 

It’s important to know that your app is protected from being copied or redistributed during the beta testing distribution. 

Ad-Hoc Deployment Using the Apple Developer Program

For private beta testing or temporary distribution, Apple allows developers to use the Ad-hoc app deployment method. In this scenario, the developer will deliver the app binary to each unique user via a download URL or email. 

To ensure the app binary works on the intended device, developers are required to register each device to the Apple Member Center and include the UDID for the device. App binaries will not run on an iOS device until the registration has been completed. This process protects your app from being duplicated or redistributed without your approval. 

You’ll see this option in Xcode when generating the IPA, open the Organizer, and navigate to Archives.

Pros of Ad-Hoc Deployment

  • No need for iOS approval process
  • App is private and cannot be installed by the public
  • Apple Developer Account profile is valid for one year

Cons of Ad-Hoc Deployment

  • Limited to 100 devices
  • Manually UDID registration is required for each device with a provisioning profile

Upgrading to the Apple Developer Enterprise Program

The Apple Developer Enterprise Program is designed for large organizations that want to distribute internal apps to employees. The Enterprise Program allows for internal distribution through secured internal systems or through MDM (mobile device management) solutions.

Not everyone is eligible for an enterprise account. It’s only for internal use of proprietary apps in scenarios that can’t be addressed through the public Apple App Store, Apple Business Manager, beta testing, or Ad Hoc distribution. The app must be developed by the organization and specifically for use on Apple platforms.

Other eligibility requirements include:

  • Minimum of 100+ employees.
  • Must be a legal entity (no DBAs, trade names, fictitious names, etc.)
  • Program must be used for internal in-house apps for employees.
  • Must have measures to ensure the app is only available for employees and all membership credentials are protected.
  • Must pass Apple’s verification process and continuous evaluations. 

Pricing for a Developer Enterprise Program account costs $299 per year for a distribution certificate. If you’re already enrolled in the Apple Developer Program for distributing apps through the public Apple App Store, you’ll need a separate Apple ID for the Enterprise Program.

In-House Deployment With the Apple Developer Enterprise Program

The in-house deployment option is great for larger organizations that want to distribute custom internal apps for employees. It also helps corporations get more control over app security and device security through MDM—mobile device management. 

Pros

  • No App Store approval process
  • You have full control over who can access and use the app
  • Ideal for internal distribution to employees

Cons

  • Only for larger businesses
  • Strict eligibility requirements

Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) for B2B App Distribution

The Volume Purchase Program, VPP, makes it possible for organizations and educational institutions to buy corporate apps in bulk and deploy them to iPhones, iPads, and Macs within the organization. 

For example, a school that provides students with Macbooks can use the VPP to pre-install different applications on those devices prior to distribution. 

The Volume Purchase Program also supports custom B2B apps that can be distributed through a private app store. 

Larger organizations could use this program to share apps with other businesses, vendors, and partners that work closely with the company. 

This is another scenario where you can create custom apps and distribute them privately without going through the App Store. Let’s say you create a custom business workflow app that involves vendors working with your company. You could grant them access to the app through a private app store using the VPP. It’s also common for organizations to use this distribution method for MDM. 

Note: The Volume Purchase Program is no longer available as of January 14, 2021

You can upgrade to Apple School Manager or Apple Business Manager to access similar benefits offered through the VPP. See more information from Apple here.

Android App Distribution Without Google Play

While we’re on the subject of distributing apps without app stores, I wanted to quickly touch base on how the Android app development and Google Play process is different from alternative distribution methods. 

As previously mentioned, the iOS process is a bit difficult. It’s much more straightforward to distribute Android apps without going through the Google Play Store. 

You can do this through a direct webpage link or direct email for download. Android apps are also easier to distribute through a third-party app marketplace. 

Refer to this Android developers resource on alternative distribution options for more information. 

App Distribution Methods in Summary

Most developers will want to use the Apple App Store for iOS app distribution. This is the best way to get your app in the hands of the widest possible audience.

But there are some scenarios that require an app to be kept private. Distributing internal employee apps or private business apps is the most common reason to avoid the App Store. 

Some apps just aren’t made for public use. If you fall into this category, you can use the Apple Developer Program or Apple Developer Enterprise Program as a solution. The former is best for beta testing, and the latter is intended for the internal distribution of an enterprise app.

Interested in creating an internal workforce app for your business?

We can help. BuildFire’s custom app development solutions are perfect for larger organizations and enterprises. We’ve built workforce apps for compliance, employee communication, business workflows, field sales, field service workers, employee safety, HR, employee onboarding, scheduling, and more. Reach out for a free consultation and book a strategy session to learn more.

Pro Tips For Effective iOS App Testing

Pro Tips For Effective iOS App Testing

App testing is one of the most important parts of the iOS application development process. 

Each iOS device is somewhat unique. There are dozens of Apple iPhone products on the market, each with different screen sizes, iOS versions, hardware, and feature capabilities. This means that you’ll have lots to test for and potential issues to debug.

Truthfully, application testing is important for any software development project, including applications for Android devices and macOS. 

But for the purposes of this guide, we’re going to narrow that focus to Apple mobile devices and explain what you must know to effectively test your iOS apps.

What is iOS App Testing?

The term iOS app testing refers to tests run on any iPhone or iPad application. iOS app testing is the process of testing apps built for Apple devices. It involves testing for bugs, user interface issues, functionality, behavior, and any general performance problems that can impact the quality of the application.

The goal of iOS app testing is to deliver the best possible user experience. By identifying and resolving issues before the app gets in the hands of real users, you can debug and fix problems that would otherwise prevent people from downloading, accessing, or using the app.

There are lots of different ways to approach iOS app testing. Depending on your app development method, you might use a combination of different testing tools.

You can hire quality assurance agents and use real testers to see how the app performs while it’s in use. Alternatively, you can use an iOS simulator or take advantage of the built-in debugging tools in Xcode. 

Testing your app using multiple methods is the best way to ensure it performs at the highest level and runs bug-free. No app is perfect, and you’ll ultimately find more bugs and issues throughout the lifetime of your app. But getting the app to market with as few problems as possible will set you up for success in the long run. 

What to Look For When Testing iOS Apps

Before you start testing an iPhone or iPad app for the Apple App Store, there are certain factors that you must understand. You can use this checklist of pro tips and best practices for effective iOS app testing:

  • Apple has lots of different iOS devices on the market. So you need to consider different screen sizes and orientations during the testing process to ensure the app fits a range of screens.
  • Think about the different types of devices under the iOS umbrella. Consider the screen resolutions and how those devices differ from each other (like iPhone UI testing vs. iPad UI testing).
  • Find out if the app is crashing or freezing during use. If so, what is causing the issue? In some cases, it could be a similar function or in-app action that causes a crash every time. Getting to the root cause of the issue will help you debug the error. 
  • Look for potential security issues within the app. What types of vulnerabilities does your iOS app have for a breach? Is there sensitive internal data or user information that could be the target?
  • Try to identify any memory leaks, which are blocks of memory that the application no longer uses. These often cause an iOS app to crash. 
  • Make sure the app is compatible with new iOS versions. As Apple continues to release new versions of software, your app must stay up to date with those releases to ensure compatibility. 
  • Test all of your push notifications and see if the push notification permission alerts are being displayed properly. This alert should only be shown to the user one time. 
  • Use beta testing to see if real users are satisfied with the app before it gets released to the general public. 

All of these tips will make your life much easier as you’re going through the iOS app testing process.

Testing 3 Main Types of iOS Apps

As previously mentioned, there are lots of different options to test an iOS app. The best mobile app testing option for you typically depends on the type of app you’re building and your development path. So before you begin any manual testing or start running an emulator, let’s look at a quick overview of each type of iOS app:

Mobile Web Applications

Web apps are an enhanced version of a mobile website. They only require a web browser to be run and used on a user’s mobile device. Many popular web applications are built with Javascript and can be accessed with a URL. 

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are typically built using the native API for Apple’s official iOS software development kit (SDK). Native iOS apps leverage the UI components in the SDK and also leverage built-in device features like internal cameras, microphones, GPS, Bluetooth, and more.

Hybrid Apps

As the name implies, hybrid apps are a mix between web and native. They do have some native UI components and offer a native experience to the end-user. But they give app developers a bit more freedom in terms of creating the app using web technology. 

Different Ways to Go About iOS App Testing

There are lots of different approaches to iOS application testing. To simplify those options, we can break them down into simulator categories. Below we’ll compare manual testing with automated testing and emulators vs. simulators. 

Manual or Automated Testing?

Manual app test cases are done “by hand.” This process requires a real device, like an iPhone or iPad. Then the tester will run through a set of instructions and scenarios to see how the app performs. 

The goal of a manual test is to verify the functionality of the app scripts for different use cases. Many manual tests require the testers to go through different in-app flows to mimic how users would actually use the app for its intended purposes. 

Manual tests can also be used in an exploratory fashion, helping to determine what other types of tests can be run moving forward.

The downside of manual testing is the time and effort required. Each time a change is made, having to go back to retest the entire app functionality isn’t always realistic. That’s when manual testing comes into play. 

You can use different automation frameworks and tools to help you through this process. But for the most part, automated tests can be segmented into two categories:

  • Unit Testing — Unit tests use code to focus on one component of the iOS application in isolation. These tests take that single component through different variables to see if it responds with the correct values. Unit tests are ideal for identifying and fixing bugs in the early stages of development. This will ultimately save time and money if you can fix these issues early, as opposed to after the UI design has been implemented. 
  • End-to-End Testing — End-to-end tests are intended to simulate a real user experience. Testers will use the entire application stack, including network requests and backend server functions to see how everything responds to the simulation. 

Both of these types of automated tests are important to run as you’re testing iOS apps.

Emulators or Simulators?

The terms emulator and simulator are often confused with each other, but the two tools are not interchangeable. 

App simulators are designed to create an environment that mimics the behavior and configurations of an actual iOS device. Emulators duplicate all of the hardware and software features of a real device. 

In short, simulators provide basic device behaviors, and emulators duplicate the exact thing as the iPhone or iPad would exist in the real world.

Many iOS app emulators and simulators are web-based, meaning you can use them from a web browser like Safari or Chrome. But neither is a true replacement for testing on a real device. 

Can You Test iOS Apps On Windows?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have an iPhone or even Mac to test an iOS app. There are plenty of platforms out there that let you conduct iOS app testing from a Windows machine. Many of these tools double as a solution to test Android apps as well. 

We have a complete guide on the best iOS simulators for Windows. The list includes Appetize, iPadian, Smartface, AIR iPhone, and Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows PC.

You can refer to that guide to compare the pros, cons, and pricing of each tool. From there, you can determine which one is best for your unique scenario.

With that said, testing iOS apps on Windows is somewhat rare. Most iOS apps should be tested from an Apple device. But if you’re in a pinch and don’t have one at your disposal, you can still run effective iOS app tests from a Windows computer. 

Conclusion

Running tests on your iOS application is important. Getting these tests done throughout the development process will make your life much easier in the long run.

The key idea here is to identify and fix as many issues as possible before the app gets into the hands of real users. People just won’t put up with an app that’s constantly crashing, has bugs, and doesn’t work as advertised. 

It’s also worth noting that perfection is near impossible. Even the best and most popular apps in the world have bugs and crash when they’re being run on an iOS device. So don’t get discouraged if your code has some issues. You can always fix minor issues with new releases of the app as problems arise down the road. 

With so many things to test for, developers and quality assurance agents must pick a testing method that makes the most sense for their application. 

If you’re still in the preliminary stages of app development and haven’t started building anything just yet, BuildFire can save you a ton of time and money. BuildFire’s no-code app development platform makes it easy for anyone to create an app, and all of the technical requirements on the backend are handled for you.

You can also leave the entire development process, including tests and updates, to the professionals. With BuildFire Plus, our expert development and design team will create a custom app for you and manage it post-launch. So you’ll never have to worry about testing or debugging. 

Sign up for a 14-day free trial or request a free app strategy session to get started.

How to Convert Your Website to a Mobile App

Having a mobile website isn’t enough for your business to stay competitive and relevant in today’s day and age. App development is the future, and the future is now.

Whether you’re an iPhone or Android user, think about the way you use your smartphone on a daily basis. 88% of all mobile time is spent on apps. 

The mobile application experience from a smartphone is far superior to web browsing. There are millions of apps available for download on the Apple Apple Store and Google Play Store. Simply put, smartphones were built for apps—not websites.  

Here’s the good news. If you already have a website, you can convert that site to a mobile app with ease. You already have most of the content at your fingertips. Now it’s just a matter of putting that content into an app, and this guide will teach you how.

5 Main Reasons to Convert Your Website to an App

Are you still on the fence about mobile app development? These are the five main reasons why you need to create a mobile app:

#1 — Easy to Use and Access

When a native app gets installed on a mobile device, it’s much easier for that smartphone user to access, open, and use the application. Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself right now.

Reach into your pocket and open an app on your phone. Now navigate to the website of that company. Which was quicker and easier?

Opening a mobile app takes a single click. But navigating to a website requires you to open a web browser, manually type in a URL, or use a search engine to find the site. 

That’s just one of the many reasons why people prefer iOS apps and Android apps over browsing the internet from their mobile devices. Just look at this data from eMarketer:

On average, people spend just 23 minutes per day using web browsers on their mobile devices. But they’re spending nearly four hours per day using apps. 

#2 — More Modern Than a Website

Having a website has basically become a requirement for all businesses. So your site isn’t really giving you an edge over the competition in terms of keeping up with the times. 

But now, we’ve reached a point where people expect businesses to have a mobile app as well. If you don’t have an app, it can make your business seem like it’s falling behind modern trends. This holds true for nearly every business type and industry, including:

  • Small business apps
  • Fitness and gym apps
  • Health and wellness apps
  • Education apps
  • Ecommerce apps
  • Internal communications apps
  • Content apps
  • Event apps
  • Religious apps

The list goes on and on. If you want to show your current and prospective customers that your business is modern, developing a mobile app is one of the best ways to do so.

#3 — Better Engagement

Mobile devices were built for mobile apps. They offer enhanced functionality compared to a web app or mobile site. 

It’s easier for apps to connect to device features, such as an internal camera, microphone, GPS, and more. Apps also offer the option for users to leverage device-specific gestures, like swiping, pinching, and other interactions that they can’t get from a mobile web browser. 

Compared to the mobile web, engagement is roughly 16 times higher on mobile apps. 

Beyond engagement, apps also have the edge when it comes to conversions. In fact, mobile apps convert at a 157% higher rate than mobile sites.

Additional Reading: Why Mobile Apps Convert Higher Than the Mobile Web

#4 — Improve the User Experience 

Mobile sites are a bit limiting in terms of what they can accomplish. But apps are programmed to be much more interactive. This creates a better user experience. 

For example, when you click on an action button on a website, there’s going to be some load time for the next page to appear. There might even be a delay in the site recognizing your gesture. 

But with an app, navigating from screen to screen is seamless. Everything is enhanced because the application is built specifically for the platform it’s being used on. 

#5 — Revenue Potential

Mobile apps are an absolute must for businesses selling products or services online. When you look at the revenue potential of an app compared to a mobile site, there’s almost no comparison.

Think about the process involved with buying something from a mobile site. Once the user adds an item to their cart, they have to enter so much information to convert.

  • Name
  • Address
  • Email
  • Credit card number
  • Credit card expiration date
  • CVV
  • Billing address

This takes forever, and it’s tough to do from a small screen. But from an app, all of this information can be saved on file within the user’s profile. So purchasing is a breeze.

That’s why mobile apps have just a 20% cart abandonment rate, compared to a 97% abandonment rate from mobile websites. 

Even if you’re not selling physical products or digital products, an app can still increase your revenue. For example, barbershops, salons, spas, and similar services can use apps to manage appointments, bookings, and deposits.

Content apps can sell subscriptions. You also have the opportunity to increase revenue with ads within your mobile apps—the opportunities are seemingly endless. 

How Can a Mobile App Be Better Than a Website?

To be clear, I’m not saying that you need to get rid of your website. You still need to maintain your site and keep it updated. 

But there are lots of reasons why mobile development is superior to web development, especially when comparing the usage from mobile devices. Examples include:

  • It’s easier to personalize apps and in-app content for the user.
  • Once an app has been installed on a user’s device, it’s easier to access and open.
  • App owners can use push notifications to send timely messages to users, keep them engaged, and entice them to open the app.
  • Apps can incorporate mobile device features like GPS, Bluetooth, camera, microphone, contact lists, and more.
  • Apps support offline mode, meaning app users won’t always need an internet connection to use the app from their smartphones. 
  • Apps work quicker on mobile devices compared to websites.
  • People spend more time on their phones using apps compared to mobile sites.

iOS vs. Android: What’s the Best App Platform?

When it comes to mobile app development, there are two major platforms that dominate this space—iOS and Android. 

If you’re going through native development, there are several key differences between these platforms that you need to consider. Things like cost, target audience, programming language, and development tools will all be impacted based on your decision. There are more Apple users in the US, but Android controls the global market share. 

It’s impossible to say that one platform is better than the other. But rather than being forced to choose, you can use an app builder like BuildFire to create an iOS app for the Apple App Store and an Android app for the Google Play Store simultaneously with a single build.

This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to convert your website into a mobile app, and it doesn’t require any coding knowledge or technical skills. You’ll get your app to market quickly, and you won’t have to worry about hiring a team of developers for each platform. 

Key Considerations When Converting Your Website to an App

Before we get into the actual steps that you’ll take to create an app, here are some things that you’ll need to keep in mind as you’re going through this process:

  • Think about your target audience and what platforms they’re using.
  • Decide whether you want to create a native app, hybrid app, or cross-platform app.
  • Figure out if you want to create the app on your own using an app builder or whether you’re going to hire a team of developers.
  • Assess your team’s technical knowledge and coding experience (example: do they know how to code Javascript, HTML, etc.).
  • Start to think about your development costs and post-launch maintenance costs.
  • Think about screen sizes, devices, and platforms that the app will be used on. 
  • Decide if you’re going to create the app in-house or outsource it to a professional app development company. 

How to Convert Your Website to a Mobile App

Ready to convert your site to an app? Here’s what you need to do:

Create a List of Desired Features

You shouldn’t be taking your website and just repurposing it in the form of a mobile app. That defeats the purpose. 

Instead, decide what types of features you want your app to have and how those features will benefit your users. When you’re going through this process, it’s important to stick with only the features that support your app’s core purpose and functionality.

For example, an ecommerce app doesn’t need to have a social networking feature. Keep it simple, and stick with what matters most for your business type, industry, users, and end goals. Think of ideas that will support the native features of different smartphones. 

Plan Your Budget

How much does it cost to convert a website to a mobile app? The cost will vary depending on your features, development cost, operating system, timeline, and other factors. 

A content creator that’s just taking videos from a website and making them available in a mobile app will have a very different budget than a website that’s trying to become the next Facebook.

You can use our mobile app cost calculator to estimate your development costs. Just add the desired features from the previous step, and the calculator will show different costs based on your development method. 

Make sure that you allocate some of your budget for post-launch maintenance and updates. 

Choose Your Development Method

Next, you need to decide exactly how you’re going to build your app. Common options include:

  • Creating the app in-house
  • Outsourcing a team of developers
  • Hiring an app development company
  • Using an app maker

For the vast majority of websites, using an app maker or hiring a development company is going to be the best option. 

An app builder is perfect for non-technical users that prefer the DIY approach. With BuildFire, this is as simple as signing up, choosing a template, and customizing the content from a user-friendly web platform. 

Alternatively, you can take advantage of BuildFire Plus—our full-service app development solution. We’ll handle all of the development, design, testing, and everything else you need to create a stunning app. 

BuildFire will even handle the app publishing process on your behalf, ensuring your app gets pushed to the Apple App Store and Google Play Store with ease. We’ll also take care of the post-launch app maintenance, updates, and support.  

Test, Launch, and Maintain

Once the app is created, you still need to test it out before getting it in the hands of real mobile users. This is especially important if you’ve been coding the app or using a team of developers to create native apps for iOS and Android.

Developers write bugs in their code—it happens. The only way to identify and fix these bugs is by testing the app on a wide range of devices, operating systems, and platforms.

When you’re satisfied with the app’s performance, it’s time to push it to the app stores. It’s worth noting that there are different publishing guidelines for Apple vs. Android. In short, the Apple App Store is a bit stricter. 

Here are a couple of resources from BuildFire University that explain the differences:

The job isn’t done once the app is live. You still need to handle post-launch maintenance and support. This includes regular updates, new features, ongoing bug fixes, and more. That’s why it’s so important to use an app builder or work with white-glove app development services like BuildFire. The vast majority of the post-launch work will be handled on your behalf. 

Conclusion

Websites will always have a place in the world. They’re great for brand exposure, SEO, and driving traffic through search engines. 

But websites just barely scratch the surface in terms of what you can accomplish with mobile app development. 

If you’re ready to get started and take your website to the next level, it’s time to create an app. Regardless of your needs, BuildFire has you covered. If you’d like to handle this on your own, you can use our DIY app builder. Sign up for a 14-day free trial, and you can start turning your website into an app today.

Alternatively, you can let us handle everything on your behalf. Reach out to our app development experts for a free consultation, and we’ll gladly develop the app for you.

5 Best iOS Simulators For Windows

Testing iPhone apps is a crucial step in the software development process. This is relatively easy if you’re using Xcode or Apple’s DevKit for iOS. But app testing can be challenging if you don’t have access to an iPhone, iPad, or macOS. 

Fortunately, using a simulator to run iOS apps makes it possible to test your app developments on a Windows operating system. 

This in-depth guide breaks down the best iOS app simulators on the market today. We’ll cover the top features, benefits, pricing, and other considerations so you can find the best tool for your unique situation. 

Before we get started, I just want to quickly clarify the difference between simulators and emulators. These terms are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing. 

Simulators create an environment that imitates the configurations and behavior of an actual iOS device. Emulators duplicate the software features and hardware of the device in question. 

The reviews in this guide will mainly focus on iOS simulators. But some of the tools listed below double as iOS emulators and Android emulators as well. So if you’re looking for a solution that checks multiple boxes, this guide has you covered.

Best iOS Simulators for Windows

  1. Appetize
  2. iPadian
  3. Smartface
  4. AIR iPhone
  5. Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows PC

Criteria: How We Chose the Best iOS Simulators

There are dozens of different iOS simulators available on the market today. With that said, not all of them are actually viable options for testing iOS applications. 

The five iOS simulators below have been graded based on pricing, features, and functionality. 

As previously mentioned, some of them double as emulators for Android devices—making them ideal for those of you who need simulations beyond iOS development. 

Unless you’re on a really tight budget, you shouldn’t let pricing alone be the sole factor in your decision. Sometimes paying a little extra will deliver a better experience, which can ultimately translate into a higher quality app. You’ll also want to consider which operating systems the simulators support (Windows 10, Windows 11, etc.).

Let’s dive into the reviews. 

1. Appetize

Appetize.io is a web-based iOS simulator and Android emulator that was founded in 2015. For the past seven years, it’s been trusted by hundreds of brands, including Shopify, Intuit, DoorDash, The Washington Post, Ulta Beauty, and more. 

What makes Appetize great is its simplicity and versatility. You can use it for training purposes, development, testing, support, and more. 

As a web-based tool, you don’t need to download anything to test your iOS app. Just upload the app directly through the website or use the Appetize API for an enhanced workflow with your IDE. Many developers consider it the best emulator and simulator.

Features and Benefits

  • User-friendly tool
  • Works well for each phase of iOS app development
  • Automated testing features
  • Stream your app instantly
  • Run your app in any browser using HTML with an iFrame
  • Supports both iOS and Android
  • View remote devices to diagnose problems
  • Supports enterprise deployments with SSO, customizations, enterprise-level SLAs

Pricing

There are three different packages to choose from:

Basic — $40 per month

  • 20 concurrent sessions
  • Standard capacity
  • $0.05 per minute rate
  • 500 minutes included

Premium — $400 per month

  • Unlimited concurrent sessions
  • Reserved devices
  • $0.05 per minute rate
  • 2,000 minutes included
  • White label capabilities

Enterprise — $2,000 per month

  • Dedicated devices
  • Unlimited usage
  • White label capabilities
  • SSO
  • Custom legal agreements
  • 24/7 enterprise-grade support

Appetize also offers a free trial package that supports one concurrent session and up to 100 minutes per month. 

2. iPadian

Unlike other tools on this list, iPadian is strictly an iOS simulator—not an emulator. So if you’re seeking a tool that does both, you can skip over the section and move on. 

That said, iPadian is one of the most popular iOS simulators on the market today. It’s been downloaded more than ten million times and has over one million daily active users. 

As a simulator, iPadian mimics the mobile app experience of a real device. This allows you to feel the difference between your iOS app and Android app from a PC or Windows device. 

Since iPadian is made strictly for simulations, it does have some limitations. The tool doesn’t create a local version of iOS on your device, and it cannot access the Apple App Store. iPadian doesn’t support iMessaging either. 

Features and Benefits

  • Ability to run apps including Facebook, Tiktok, Whatsapp, Instagram, and more
  • Imitates the appearance, design, and basic features of iOS devices
  • Simple and easy to use
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Affordable

Pricing

iPadian offers one of the best deals for iOS simulation. Just pay a one-time fee of $25 for lifetime access to the tool. 

This is a really good price for Windows users who want to have an iOS experience without having to pay for an actual iPad or iPhone. There’s also a free version that works for iOS 10 if you want to try it out before spending the $25.

3. Smartface

Smartface is an emulator and simulator that works for both iOS and Android apps. You can run these apps in your browser without downloading any software or purchasing any additional hardware. 

Unlike other iOS simulators and emulators, Smartface supports a wide range of operating systems, devices, and OS versions. Beyond Windows machines, you can run Smartface on Linux, ChromeOS, and macOS as well. 

There is a slight catch. Even though this is a browser-based iOS simulator, you can’t just sign up and start using it right away. Smartface requires you to request a demo first, which can be a bit of a pain if you’re trying to do something quickly. 

Features and Benefits

  • Run iOS apps and Android apps in your browser
  • Supports native iOS code in Windows
  • Interactive user experience
  • Good debugging features
  • Supports app testing and development

Pricing

Smartface starts at $99 per month. Again, you’ll need to request a demo before you can access the simulator and emulator tool. 

4. AIR iPhone

AIR iPhone is a free iOS simulator for Windows. It runs using the Adobe Air Framework, which means you must install Adobe Air on your machine to run this tool. 

The purpose of AIR iPhone is to reproduce an iPhone’s GUI (graphical user interface) without an iOS device. 

But compared to other solutions on the market, this tool is outdated and extremely limited. The interface looks more like iOS 3 compared to more recent versions, like iOS 14. While you can see the GUI of an iPhone and iOS application, AIR iPhone won’t actually run the apps as if they were installed on a native iOS device, so it’s not ideal for debugging.

Features and Benefits

  • Great if you’re already using Adobe Air Framework
  • Free
  • Simple installation process

Pricing

AIR iPhone is free to download and use. If you’re on a tight budget and don’t mind sacrificing the quality of your simulator, this tool is fine for basic use.

5. Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows PC

Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows makes it possible to test apps using an iOS simulator with Visual Studio 2019 and Visual Studio 2017. The tool is installed automatically with Xamarin with both versions of Visual Studio.

While you don’t need an iPhone or iOS device to run this simulator from Microsoft, you do need a Mac. The tool requires you to pair Visual Studio with a Mac Build host. From there, you can use the simulator for debugging iOS and tvOS projects on a Windows device.

The tool is pretty technical compared to some of the other options on the market, but it works as promised.

Features and Benefits

  • Toolbar is user-friendly with lots of options
  • Supports iOS functions like Home, Lock, Settings, and Screenshot
  • Functionality that mimics Apple’s Touch ID
  • Ability to simulate static and moving conditions

Pricing

There are free and paid versions of the Remoted iOS Simulator for Windows. But as previously mentioned, it’s installed automatically when you use Xamarin with Visual Studio.

Conclusion

There are plenty of potential use cases for using an iOS simulator on Windows. The main idea here is to run and test an app without having to buy an iPhone, Mac, or iPad. 

If you’re creating an iOS app but don’t own any Apple devices, this is an easy shortcut to testing.

BuildFire has an app emulator built into its software. So you can update your app and see the changes in real-time directly on the screen. Our software also makes it easy for you to check your app directly from your own smartphone. Here are some helpful guides and tutorials on this subject:

But if you’re set on using a third-party tool, that’s fine too. Appetize.io is a great simulator for testing apps. Alternatively, you can use iPadian if you just want to mimic the iOS experience from your Windows computer. 

How to Test Your App on an iPhone Using Xcode

App testing is a key part of iOS development. If you’re using Xcode to create an iOS app, you can test your app using a real iPhone and iOS device with Xcode’s built-in simulator. 

While simulators are great, some features don’t quite work the same unless you’re using an iPhone.

For example, maybe you want to send an SMS message from your iOS application. Or maybe you want to test the app’s compatibility with an iPhone camera. You can’t do this from your Mac.

In addition to testing for functionality, running your app on an iPhone for the first time can also help with debugging. Xcode even has a built-in debugger tool that helps you identify bugs and problems directly within the source editor. 

Ready to start testing? This guide will show you how.

What is Xcode?

Let’s start with the basics. If you’re new to development and haven’t started building anything yet, you might have some questions about Xcode and how it works. 

We have an in-depth tutorial on how to code Xcode that’s written for complete beginners. I strongly suggest giving it a read for a full explanation of how Xcode works. But I’ll quickly summarize the key highlights below before we continue with the testing instructions.

Xcode is an integrated development environment, better known as an IDE. It’s the official IDE for Apple that’s used to create, test, and debug apps for iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, Mac, and Apple TV.

Xcode is also great for team collaboration. So your entire development team can work together on the app and ensure it’s ready for testers before deployment. It’s much easier to use Xcode for testing and debugging apps before they’re added to the app store.

Testing on a Simulator vs. Real Device

App development isn’t complete until the application has been fully tested. There are several different ways to test mobile apps, but these options can generally be segmented into two categories—simulators and real devices.

Simulators let you run applications that weren’t intended for your computer’s operating system. Developers can use iOS simulators to test their code on an iPhone or iPad without actually running the app on one of those devices. 

Some simulators double as emulators, which mimic the capabilities of real devices beyond a simulation. You can even find simulators that support both iOS and Android for testing multiple versions of your app.
Xcode has a built-in simulator that’s great for testing during the early stages of development. This allows you to run a simulation without having to lay out the user interface.

You just need to configure your settings and click the run button on your toolbar. 

Then select what type of device you want to simulate your app on. This can be selected from the run destination menu of the toolbar.

If you want to test the app using an older iOS version, you can click “Add Additional Simulators” at the bottom of this pop up menu.

Again, simulators are fine for certain aspects of testing—especially in the early stages. But they can’t really show you the user interface and how your app flows when it’s really being used on a device. That’s why you’re better off testing on an iPhone in the later stages of development before the app gets pushed to the App Store. 

Setting Up to Run Xcode On a Real Device

Before you test your mobile app on an actual iOS device, you need to make sure that everything in your Xcode project is configured properly. Then you’ll be able to run the app on an iPhone without having to write any extra code.

Grab your device, and connect it to your Mac.

If you’re testing a macOS version for an iPad application, then you’ll also need to choose a scheme. Xcode app schemes are essentially settings that clarify the build configurations, targets, and executable environment. 

To choose a real device for testing, you’re going to follow the same steps you took earlier for selecting an iOS simulator. Only this time, you’re going to choose the connected iPhone from the run destination menu for device management in Xcode.

Similar to what we described earlier, you’ll just click the run button to proceed after you’ve selected the connected iPhone.

Xcode will automate the process, install the app, and attach the debugger. Once this happens, the app should appear on your phone. From here, you can navigate to the debug area of Xcode to test your app. This is an opportunity for you to examine variables and debug any errors.

If your build is unsuccessful, you can view any error messages or warnings in the Issue Navigator. You can do this by selecting “Navigators” from the “View” menu and choosing “Show Issue Navigator.” Any messages will appear here. 

How Do I Test My App on My iPhone?

Here’s a quick summary of the requirements for testing apps on iPhone using Xcode:

  • You need to plug the iPhone into the Mac that’s running Xcode.
  • Then you must download the app to your Mac.
  • When you select a real device in Xcode for testing, you need to add your Apple ID in the Accounts preferences of your project editor.
  • If you’re part of the Apple Developer Program, you must register the device before running the app. 
  • You can also pair Xcode with iOS and tvOS apps if that device is on the same network as Xcode. When you open Xcode, any paired devices should appear on the toolbar.

Conclusion

I hope you found this tutorial on testing your Xcode app on iPhone helpful. 

To bypass these steps and avoid unnecessary headaches, you can use BuildFire as an alternative solution. The BuildFire SDK is developer-friendly—allowing you to create new app features using Javascript, HTML, and CSS using your preferred framework. 

BuildFire gives developers the ability to build on top of our existing infrastructure, which saves a ton of time and money during the development process. 

If you’re a complete beginner who doesn’t have any coding experience, there’s really no reason to learn Xcode and test your apps on your own. Unless you want to become an iOS developer, it’s much easier to let BuildFire create an app for you. Check out our full-service app development solution, BuildFire Plus, for more information. 

For those of you who are still early on in the development process, read our step-by-step guide on How to Make an App to learn more.

How to Debug an iOS App

Developers aren’t perfect. Even the best developers in the world commit mistakes when they’re developing iOS applications—it happens. 

These coding mistakes can lead to all kinds of problems that can ultimately affect the user experience and sometimes impact the core functionality of your app. 

That’s why debugging is such a crucial part of the software development lifecycle as various tests are being run. Eliminating bugs is crucial for all applications—not just mobile apps running on an iOS device. App debugging is equally as important for Android apps, web apps, macOS, and any other type of software.

But this guide is going to specifically focus on Apple. You’ll learn exactly how to use a debugger to test and debug your code. Let’s dive in.

What’s Involved With the iOS App Debugging Process

iOS debugging all starts with finding the right tools to help you out. Manually trying to go through your code to look for errors isn’t realistic, efficient, or scalable. You just need to configure your debugging tools for different iOS versions and devices.

Xcode is one of the best ways to develop, test, and debug apps. Apple created this IDE (integrated development environment) specifically for developing and troubleshooting iOS apps, so it comes with plenty of built-in solutions to assist with the process. 

You can debug your app on a live device, like an iPhone or iPad, or use a simulator on your Mac to test the codebase. 

Here’s a brief overview of what you can expect during a typical debugging process:

  • Setting up your project to test
  • Configuring your debugging tools
  • Setting a breakpoint for testing
  • Use a running application with a breakpoint
  • Find the bugs and fix the issues

We’ll expand on these concepts in greater detail below.

Debugging an iOS App With Xcode

As previously mentioned, Xcode is Apple’s official IDE. To learn more about Xcode and how it works, check out our beginner’s tutorial on how to code Xcode for more information.

If you’re using Xcode to create an app for the App Store, it only makes sense to handle your app debugging directly in this platform. Once the platform has been set to run within the app while testing, the navigator lets you look through everything to check the current state of the app for testing and debugging. 

Here’s a glimpse of Xcode’s debug navigator, source code editor, and debug area in action.

This will ultimately give you insights into more than just code errors. You can use the navigator to see information on resource consumption, app performance, and other things that might impact the iOS device.

Setting the Breakpoint

Setting the breakpoint is a critical step in the iOS debugging process. This is another instance where using the right developer tools will make your life easier. 

Every iOS developer needs to understand how this works, which we’ll discuss in greater detail below.

What Are Breakpoints in Xcode?

Breakpoints in Xcode make it possible to pause your app when you’re running the debugger. This allows you to inspect different variables as you’re trying to isolate and locate bugs, crashes, and other errors. 

Adding a breakpoint in Xcode is easy. Just navigate to the line within your code where you want the execution to pause. Then click the line number to set the breakpoint.

You can drag it up, down, or away from the gutter to remove it completely. Selecting the breakpoint icon in your toolbar debugger will activate or deactivate all of the breakpoints in your source editor. 

If you have several breakpoints across multiple source code files, you can use the breakpoint navigator to manage all of them in one place.

From here, you can:

  • Navigate to a breakpoint in the source editor
  • Remove a breakpoint from the code
  • Enable breakpoints
  • Disable breakpoints
  • Find frequently used breakpoints
  • Specify conditions for pausing the app

How Do Breakpoints Work in Xcode?

Breakpoints work by patching the code you’re executing with specific instructions to trigger an event. When you run an exception breakpoint in Xcode, the default will break on C++ and Objective C—pausing the app during the debugging process and taking you to where the problem lies in your code. 

Once you accept the defaults, you can re-run the app and force the error. The debugger should highlight the code that’s causing the problem, so you can isolate and fix any issues.

Can You Debug iOS Apps On An iPhone?

You can debug iOS apps directly on an iPhone. You just need to connect the iPhone to your Mac with Xcode installed, and configure all of the permissions to run the app on a real device instead of on a simulator. 

Here’s a quick summary of iOS debugging on an iPhone:

  • Connect your iPhone to your Mac.
  • Open Xcode and navigate to the Run Destination Menu on the toolbar.
  • Select the connected iPhone when prompted to choose a device.
  • Xcode will automatically install the app and attach the debugger.

If there are any problems with your code, you’ll see error messages and warnings in your Xcode issue navigator. 

What Are the Benefits of Debugging an App?

Using Xcode to debug your iOS app is a critical part of the testing stage. It has a direct impact on the success of your app and its usability. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Saves time and money during the development process.
  • Developers use troubleshooting opportunities to learn from mistakes in their code.
  • When apps are tested at different stages of development, you can identify errors before the release.
  • Using a debugger improves the quality of your app for users to enjoy.
  • Apps with a smooth UX have a chance to generate more revenue.

Don’t take shortcuts during the debugging stage. It’s important for you to take this seriously to truly get the benefits listed above. 

Conclusion

I hope this tutorial on how to debug an app provided some clarity for you as you’re going through this process. Whether you’re creating an app for Apple or Android, debugging is an essential stage in the app development lifecycle. 

If you’re still a bit intimidated by native app development and debugging on your own, BuildFire might be the perfect solution for you.

You can use BuildFire’s no-code app builder to make an app without writing a single line of code—meaning no debugging is necessary. Alternatively, you can go with the full-service app development route and let us build the app for you. We’ll handle everything, so you can be free to work on other aspects of your business.

What is an iOS App Simulator and How Does it Work?

Every mobile application needs to be tested. This is a key step in the app development lifecycle.

So before you push release an iPhone app, iPad app, or Mac application to the Apple App Store, you must ensure that it actually runs and functions the way it’s intended. If you don’t have an iOS device, then you can use an iOS simulator or emulator as an alternative option. 

This in-depth guide will explain everything you need to know about iOS simulators and how they work. More specifically, we’ll focus on using simulators for testing and debugging during app development.

What is an iOS App Simulator?

iOS app simulators mimic applications that run on an iOS device. These tools allow you to start and run iOS apps without an iPhone or iPad—accessing the app from your web browser, Mac, or Windows computer instead. 

The terms “simulator” and “emulator” are often used in the same context. But these tools are not interchangeable.

Simulators create an environment that replicates the configurations and behavior of a real device. Emulators duplicate the software and hardware features of the real device. While simulators mimic the basic behavior of a virtual environment, they don’t actually follow all the rules of that particular environment. 

Some iOS app simulators double as emulators, or vice versa. But this is not always the case. 

There are two main use cases for iOS simulators—testing apps without an iOS device or accessing iOS apps without an iOS device. The first scenario is primarily used by developers, and the latter is leveraged by end-users. 

Let’s say a developer is creating an iOS application but doesn’t have a real iPhone to test it on. They can use an app simulator as an alternative option. Or maybe a general user wants to access an iOS app like Facebook or Whatsapp from a Windows device—some simulators make this possible.  

There are lots of different options on the market for running iOS simulators. Here are some of the most popular tools to consider for iOS app simulators and emulators. Depending on your desired use case and available device, some of these tools will likely be better than others for your specific needs.

Appetize.io

Appetize is one of the simplest iOS app simulators on the market. It’s trusted by big-name companies like Shopify, Intuit, The Washington Post, DoorDash, and more. 

What makes Appetize stand out from the crowd is its versatility. It doubles as a simulator and emulator for both iOS and Android. Appetize supports app testing, customer support, previews, and other use cases. 

As a web-based tool, Appetize is really user-friendly. No downloads or installations are required. Simply upload the application to the Appetize.io website, or leverage their API to use the simulator directly within your preferred IDE. 

Whether you’re a solo developer or a large organization, Appetize has a plan for everyone. Packages start at $40 per month for the entry-level plan and go all the way up to $2,000 per month for the enterprise version. 

iPadian

iPadian is just an iOS simulator. It does not function as an emulator like some of the other tools in this category. 

You can use iPadian to mimic the in-app experience of an iPhone or iPad from a Windows device or PC. Starting at just $25, it’s one of the most affordable solutions on the market for iOS simulations. This likely explains its popularity. iPadian has been downloaded more than ten million times and has one million daily active users. 

Most people that use iPadian aren’t developers or testers. They’re simply looking for a way to access iOS apps without a real device, and iPadian gets the job done. 

With that said, this tool does have some restrictions. It does not connect to the Apple App Store and does not support iMessaging functionality. 

BuildFire is a no-code app builder for iOS and Android. Trusted to create more than 10,000+ mobile apps, BuildFire is the most powerful and versatile app maker on the market today. 

What makes BuildFire so unique is its versatility. As a no-code solution, anyone can use this web-based platform to create an app without any coding knowledge or technical skills. But BuildFire is also developer-friendly, meaning those with coding skills can use the BuildFire SDK to create custom functionality for an app. There’s truly nothing else like this on the market today.

Within BuildFire’s DIY app builder, there’s a built-in emulator that you can access while you’re building the app. This allows you to see what certain features and functions will look like as you’re building directly from your web browser. 

The emulator is fully interactive, so you can click and run app functions the same way you would from a real device. When you’re finished creating your app, the team at BuildFire will even get your app published on the App Store for you. 

Start for free with a 14-day trial. 

Smartface

Smartface offers an in-browser app simulator and emulator for iOS and Android. The cool part about this tool is that you can run iOS apps without macOS. It works on Macs, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, and any operating system. 

You can use Smartface to run and test a wide range of different iOS versions and devices, including new and older versions of iPhones, iPads, and Android smartphones. All of these are available directly from your web browser without any downloads or installations.

Smartface also has diverse compatibility with different frameworks, including Cordova, Java, React Native, Ionic, Swift, Objective-C, Kotlin, and more. 

Unlike other web-based iOS simulators, you can’t just start using Smartface immediately. They require you to request a demo for access, so it’s not on-demand. 

How Does Xcode Work With Testing an iOS App?

Xcode is Apple’s official IDE (integrated development environment) for building, testing, and debugging iOS applications. As an iOS developer using native development, you can use the iOS simulator in Xcode to test your app without using a third-party tool. 

This simulator is easily accessible from your Xcode project. 

We have a more in-depth guide on how to test your iPhone app using Xcode. But here’s a quick summary of those steps:

  • Open your Xcode project.
  • Navigate to the run destination menu in the toolbar.
  • Select how you’re going to test the app (iOS simulator or real device).
  • If you want to test using a real iOS device, that device must be plugged into a computer that’s running Xcode.
  • If you’re testing using the built-in simulator, simply select the simulators of a device family (iPhone X, iPhone SE, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, etc.).
  • Xcode will automatically flag any errors and bugs during the simulation.

Xcode is great for running simulations if you’re already developing an app within that IDE. Otherwise, it doesn’t really make sense to use it for this purpose. 

What Are The Advantages of Using an iOS App Simulator?

There are several benefits to using iOS app simulators. Here are key advantages:

  • You can use iOS app simulators for debugging and testing.
  • Simulators run fast since they only mirror the software, as opposed to running the full software.
  • Simulators make it easy to spot errors and issues within your code.
  • You run apps built for iPhones and iPads without an actual iOS device.
  • Many iOS simulators are free and open source.
  • Simulators can be connected to an IDE during the early development stages.
  • Most developers and testers don’t have access to every single iOS device with different screen sizes, resolutions, and older iOS versions.
  • Some simulators work for iOS and Android apps without needing to plug in any hardware.

What Are The Disadvantages of Using an iOS App Simulator?

While using a simulated device to test and run a mobile app can be useful, it’s not always perfect. Here are some potential drawbacks to consider as you’re going through this process. 

  • You can’t replicate the actual conditions of a real device, like battery consumption, restricted memory, etc. 
  • Simulators don’t take into consideration the full experience of using a physical iOS device, including the visual experience and app speed.
  • Results from different simulators might vary, and the speed is typically unrealistic due to low graphic load times that don’t function the same as a working app.
  • You can’t accurately replicate certain functions like push notifications or SMS messaging from the app using a simulator. 
  • App simulations may run differently than how it would normally run in a natural environment on a real device.
  • You can’t access native features like an iPhone camera or natural gestures (scroll, zoom, tap, pinch and zoom, etc.).

Conclusion

iOS simulators are really versatile. They’re mostly used for testing iOS apps, tvOS apps, and watchOS apps without actually running the app on a real device. 

If you’re using Xcode to create your app, you can take advantage of the built-in simulator within that IDE. Just understand that an iPhone simulator will always have some limitations and restrictions and is not a replacement for app testing on a real device. 

For those of you still in the pre-development stages, you can bypass running simulations altogether. BuildFire’s interactive emulator is an easy way to see the look and feel of your app while you’re creating it and adding new features directly from your browser.

Alternatively, you take advantage of BuildFire Plus and let our team create an app for you. This is a no-hassle solution, and you won’t have to worry about any testing, debugging, or updates—we’ll handle everything on your behalf.  

How to Code Xcode: A Complete Tutorial For Beginners

Learning how to code Xcode is an important skill for any Apple developer. You’ll be writing code on Mac to create applications for the App Store.

The great part about Xcode is its versatility for applications across different Apple devices. It supports development for iOS apps, macOS apps, tvOS, iPadOS, and watchOS. 

New to Xcode? That’s why we created this guide.

This in-depth Xcode tutorial is designed for complete beginners. It explains everything you need to know about Xcode, how it works, and how to learn Xcode.

What is Xcode?

Xcode is Apple’s official IDE (integrated development environment). It was released in 2003 specifically for building software on Apple platforms. 

IDEs are centralized environments that consolidate the different aspects of building software. Unlike other IDEs, Xcode is only available for Mac, and it’s an all-in-one solution to build and code an app. 

An Apple developer can use Xcode to create apps for iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and Apple TV. It’s most commonly used for iOS app development (creating a mobile app).

Swift 5.5 and SDKs for iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey, tvOS 15, and watchOS 8 are all included with Xcode 13.

Xcode is the only official tool for creating and publishing apps on the Apple App Store. It’s designed for beginners and experienced developers alike.

Xcode comes with all of the tools and resources you need to create an app within a single source of truth—including a compiler, text editor, and name system. This makes it possible to not only write and compile but also debug an app. 

Once you’re done writing code, you can submit your app to the App Store with ease. 

Xcode contains lots of great tools that help streamline the development process, making it easy for experienced developers to push apps out quickly. But it’s also a user-friendly IDE, so the learning curve isn’t as steep for beginners.

This is the only official way to create apps by Apple. Xcode comes with excellent debugging tools that make it easy for developers to troubleshoot problems faster. The platform also comes with project management resources to help you stay organized with coding files, image assets, and everything else you need to create a great app.

Xcode Requirements

Before you start a new Xcode project or try to install Xcode, it’s important for you to understand the platform requirements. Xcode is only available for Mac users running a version of macOS 10.14.4 or later. You’ll need at least 7.6 GB of hard drive space to download Xcode as well. 

For those of you who don’t meet these requirements, there are some alternative methods you can try for writing Xcode in older Mac visions or PCs. But with that said, this is generally not something that we recommend. 

Getting a Mac is your best option here. The workarounds for other devices can be tricky and could not only impact your experience but also affect your app.

Is Xcode Good For Beginners?

To clarify, Xcode is an IDE (integrated development environment). It just provides developers with a user interface for writing code. As a programmer or developer, you still need to have a basic understanding of programming languages before you can start using this interface builder and code editor.

Xcode is a tool that helps you write code for Apple platforms, but it won’t teach beginners how to write app code. You still need to learn that on your own.

A complete beginner with no prior coding knowledge could not download Xcode and immediately start to create apps. With that said, once you have the coding knowledge, Xcode has a friendly UI that’s easy for beginners to navigate and understand. 

What’s the Best Way to Learn Xcode?

The best way for beginners to learn Xcode is through Apple’s own documentation. If you’re starting from scratch, Apple has excellent developer resources that will teach you how to code. 

It’s in your best interest to learn Swift—the official programming language to build apps for the Apple App Store and Mac App Store.  

The great part about using a Swift tutorial from Apple is that you’ll be learning to code and building a foundation for navigating Xcode simultaneously. 

Swift Playgrounds is another option to consider. This is an iPad app that teaches you how to code and create apps with Swift. You can also explore app forums, Udemy, Codetree, and other online resources that can teach you about Xcode, Swift, and source code.

How Does Xcode Work

The first thing you need to do is install Xcode. To start a new app project in Xcode, you’ll need to select a template for the platform you want the app to run on. Then choose the type of app you want to create (game, single view, document based, etc.).

Starting with the right Xcode template is a crucial step to ensure you can start creating an app as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

Configuration

Before you start to develop anything, you need to provide Xcode with information related to yourself (as the developer) and your app. This includes:

  • Product Name — Your app’s name as it will appear in the Apple App Store and on devices when it’s installed. Product names must be at least two characters and less than 255 bytes. It should be similar to the name that you’ll ultimately enter in the App Store Connect.
  • Organization Identifier — This is a reverse DNS string to identify your organization. For those of you who don’t have a company identifier right now, you can use com.example. as a placeholder until you distribute your app. This must be replaced before distribution.
  • Organization Name — This is the name that will appear in all boilerplate text in your project folder. This is not the same as the name that appears in the App Store for your app.

It’s worth noting that you cannot change your App ID after it’s been uploaded to App Store Connect. Here’s the official wording from Apple:

Creating a Project

Here’s a quick overview of the steps you must follow to start a new project:

  1. Download Xcode and launch it on an Apple platform.
  2. Select “Create a new Xcode project” in the welcome window or navigate to File > New > Project.
  3. Select a template (iOS, watchOS, macOS, Cross-platform).
  4. Fill out all of the required information.
  5. Choose your language and user interface (for example, Swift and SwiftUI).

Choosing SwiftUI also gives you the option to develop for all platforms and view an interactive preview of your layout. 

Managing Files

Any time you start a new project or re-open an existing project, Xcode will open your main window. This shows all of your code files and required resources to create your app. 

You can use the project navigator as a way to quickly access different areas of the project. 

All details about the files you select will be shown in the “inspector” portion of Xcode on the right side of the screen. You can always hide this to free up space on your screen as well.

The “toolbar” is where you’ll create and run your application as a simulator or from a real device. If you’re building an iOS app, just select an app target and simulator from the toolbar menu before clicking the run button to proceed. 

You can refer to Apple’s official developer guidelines for more information about how Xcode works.

Windows

As previously mentioned, Xcode is meant for software development on macOS. With that said, there are ways for Windows users to use Xcode for app development as well.

While this isn’t really something we recommend, you can create a virtual environment on your PC. If you’re really tech-savvy, you can create a “Hackintosh”—which is essentially a PC that’s been modified to run macOS. This-party solutions like React Native, Xamarin, Appcelerator, and PhoneGap are other ways to create an app for iOS using the programming language of your choice from a Windows machine.  

Xcode Tools and Features

The latest version of Xcode offers tons of great features, including SDKs for new versions of Apple platforms. Here’s a quick overview of the noteworthy highlights:

Team Comments

Xcode has an inline team comments feature that makes team collaboration a breeze. Reviewers can quickly comment on lines of code, which will appear with their name and avatar—limiting the need for a third-party collaboration solution.

Simulators

In addition to the app simulator for iOS and Mac, Xcode now offers a CarPlay simulator as well. This makes it easy for you to test the CarPlay experience for apps across different types of cars, screen sizes, and other variables. 

Crash Reports and Feedback

You can get detailed crash log reports from TestFlight users to help you quickly identify what caused the app to crash. Testers can add feedback as well to explain what actions they were doing when the crash occurred. 

Xcode Debugging Tools

There are plenty of debugging tools built into Xcode. Piggybacking off the last point, crash logs are displayed inline so you can quickly jump to the relevant code with just a simple click.

What Programming Language Does Xcode Use?

These are the programming languages compatible with Xcode’s integrated development environment:

  • Swift
  • Objective-C
  • Objective-C++
  • C
  • C++
  • Java
  • Applescript
  • Python
  • Ruby (Ruby on Rails)

Objective-C++ can compile the source files using a combination of Objective-C and C++ syntax. 

Advantages of Using Xcode

Xcode is a robust, easy-to-use, and well-designed IDE that’s great for writing code, debugging, and simulating apps built for Apple platforms.

Other Xcode pros include:

  • Supports a wide range of programming languages
  • User-friendly interface
  • Simple navigation from the view controller
  • Supports testing and debugging
  • Allows developers to create apps for iOS, macOS, watchOS, tvOS, and iPadOS

Disadvantages of Using Xcode

Here’s a closer look at some potential drawbacks to consider when using Xcode:

  • You must have an Apple ID and Mac
  • Doesn’t support development for Android
  • App publishing requires complex steps
  • Limited drag-and-drop functionality

Using BuildFire SDK as an Alternative to Xcode

For beginners and experienced developers alike, BuildFire SDK is a simpler alternative to learning Xcode. This is the best way to avoid the pains and drawbacks associated with Xcode.

BuildFire makes it possible for developers to create custom functionality using Javascript, HTML, and CSS with any framework. So you’re not limited to the restrictions that come with Xcode.

You can also take advantage of BuildFire’s existing infrastructure and leverage built in tools, including authentication servers, image servers, file servers, databases, and more. 

BuildFire also takes care of all the publishing for both iOS and Android. So you won’t have to go through the complex steps that would normally be required to publish an app from Xcode. 

Take full advantage of our development features like:

  • Data tracer
  • Remote debugging tool
  • Testing tools
  • Plugin IDE
  • Command-line interface (CLI)
  • Hot loader

BuildFire also has hundreds of open source-plugins that you can use and redistribute for free. Our UI components will save you countless hours on development.

Conclusion

I hope this in-depth guide answered all of your questions about Xcode and its use cases. 

Rather than learning how to code and using Xcode as an IDE, you can use BuildFire SDK as an easier alternative. Complete beginners should consider BuildFire Plus—our full-service app development solution. Instead of wasting your own time and internal resources to learn something new, let BuildFire create the app for you, so you can focus on other areas of your business.

Get a free consultation to learn more about our custom app development services.