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Creating Products -- Make iOS and Android Apps With Drag-and-Drop Ease

by C.S. Clarke, Ph.D.

I was doing some research to check a fact or two for an article I was writing about creating products from components. I was writing about physical products, but I came across some pages that reminded me of a couple of product-builders that are for apps. They help you build mobile apps, primarily, but one will let you publish to the web and desktop as well.

These product-builders make it possible for you to create your own apps without programming knowledge or experience. Without having to hire a programmer. You can do it all by yourself. In fact, most of what you have to do is drag-and-drop components and click a few buttons.

Mobile and web apps, especially games, are the most popular virtual products. Everyone who has the smallest amount of ambition to develop virtual products would like to make apps. They're even easier to sell and distribute than info products. They have great SEO and traffic value as giveaways. Many folks will link to your site if you've got a great app giveaway. You can use your app to advertise your site and your other products. If your app goes viral, you can get famous.

There are two app builders that I want to talk about. There are others available, but I'm not as satisfied with the ones I've seen as I am with these two.

Before I recommended these, I tried my hand at them myself, so I could speak from experience.

1. App Inventor is for making apps for Android. Including games, if you wish. Granted, making apps for Android isn't as exciting and sexy as making them for the iOS. Nor is it as profitable. But it can be reasonably profitable.

And AppInventor makes it a snap. It has a great beginner's tutorial that is so easy that you can have your first app made in about a half hour, counting the time to download the software and set up your computer.

Unlike GameSalad, reviewed below, it is for making any kind of mobile app.

Oh, yeah. It's a product of GoogleLabs and it's free.

I also recommend that you get at least one instruction book for it. I like "App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps" by David Wolber best. But another good text is "App Inventor for Android: Build Your Own Apps - No Experience Required!" by Jason Tyler.

2. GameSalad is true to its name. It's primarily about making games. However, once you get used to it, you can probably make simple utility apps and interactive books or comics.

Nevertheless, most folks will want this even more than App Inventor. That's because it's for the iOS. But, you have to have a Mac to use it. That's as good a reason to switch to Mac as any other.

Making iPhone and iPad apps is big business. Now it can be your business. All you need is the software, a few good ideas, and the ability to edit templates and drag-and-drop components. (And a Mac.)

Of course, as with any app development, you have to have some feel for design. But there's no programming.

The basic program is free and you can deploy your app to the iOS, the web and the Mac. If you want to deploy to the iOS, you'll have to be a mac developer -- which costs about $100 a year.

If you want more advanced features, and you want to deploy to Android as well, you'll have to upgrade to their "pro" edition. There's a fee for that.

To get both an overview of how it works, and in depth instructions, go to their support section, where you will find documentation, tips, demos, how-to's, etc.

There's also a book for this, but you can only read it on an iPhone or iPad. It's "The Unofficial GameSalad Textbook," by Michael Garofalo. (The link for his "books" page. When you click on the name of the book, it will make iTunes open. You buy it through iTunes.)

If you want to make apps and the profits they can bring, these two programs can get you started and help you develop apps quickly. However, as with anything new, you will have a learning curve.


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