15. August 2012–
Appscend, a ten-person team working out of Bucharest, Romania, have come up with a mobile app development platform they hope will go one up on the likes of Appcelerator and Verivo, and they've duplicated the New York Times iPhone app in under two hours to prove it.
Smartphone mobile apps are taking off (see infographic below), and so is the industry to help businesses build them quickly and easily. Those looking to develop something that works on several platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows Phone etc) have a few options - hire developers to code each app from the ground up, use a cross-platform coding framework such as Appcelerator or PhoneGap to hit several at once, or, for the less technical, use a template-based app builder.
Appscend is somewhere between those last two - think WordPress for mobile apps. It offers its own markup-based coding language, Ignite Markup, as well as the option of a code-free visual interface. Appscend, unlike most other app building frameworks, also offers analytics, a content management backend, an ad server and tools to push notifications to users.
It's in roughly the same field as industry leader Appcelerator, which has raised $50 million in venture capital backing since starting up in 2006 and claims to have powered 30,000 apps used on 30 million devices daily.
Appscend, founded in 2011, has much more modest figures. So far bootstrapped and with no plans to raise investment funding yet, it claims 2000 registered companies using the service and 250 apps published in the Apple App Store and Google Play.
Those published apps are a mixed bunch (so are the sites built using WordPress, to be fair) - the headliner is possibly an urban transport planning app in collaboration with Vodafone Romania. For us, this duplicate New York Times iPhone app is a close second.
DIY apps - don't expect miracles
Apps published using cross-platform frameworks are unlikely to beat specialist developers and native mobile languages when it comes to grunt, flexibility and natural feel.
But Appscend co-founder Sebastian Vaduva points out the team are providing a great solution for businesses wanting to do several apps at once to tight deadlines, or without the resources to hire the developers they'd otherwise need. "In a couple of years time, most companies will use at least one mobile app for their business, either for their consumers or an internal app," he predicts.
Developers might not like it, but for web agencies faced with a spike in demand for mobile apps from existing clients, Appscend might prove just the ticket.
Check out some of the stats and estimated costs for mobile app development in the graphic provided by Appscend below. Any more to throw in?