How to Build an Android App Without Coding

by | Oct 11, 2018

Google’s Android operating system has evolved from an early smartphone software to a more sophisticated, widely-used platform with extensive functionality. As the Android suite and user base have grown, so has its viability for business applications and other complex software. There is a wide range of options for professionally developing a mobile app, such as mobile agencies, “no-code” and “low-code” platforms that include graphical interfaces, and hiring a freelancer – each comes with their own unique challenges and advantages.

Choosing a platform is an early step in any app development project, and can make a considerable difference in outcomes – Android, iOS, and cross-platform suites each have their own benefits and costs from both technical and business perspectives.

The Basics – Android and iOS Apps

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Choosing between the two globally dominant mobile platforms involves several important questions – there are considerable differences in the technologies and market dynamics, and the “right” choice for platform might change depending on the project.

One of Android’s most impressive advantages is their global market share and user base; approximately 64% of smartphone users use an Android, and while they are less dominant in the U.S, they still account for a majority. So, unless your app benefits specifically from iOS’ particularities – a generally wealthier user base, for example, or distinct technical functions such as FaceID and and fingerprint scanning – Android is usually a safe bet. The trends vary between countries, so this research from Statista breaks down the smartphone market in more detail.

Diverging costs are another significant difference: publishing on iOS costs $99 per year, while Android’s popular Google Play app store only asks a one-time fee of $25. The discrepancy has affected the publishing dynamics of the two marketplaces – there are nearly 3.8 million published apps on Google Play, almost double the App Store’s 2 million available.

From a technical perspective, Android is much more robust in its choice of hardware. Myriad different brands of phones, tablets, and other devices can run Android and related software, while iOS only offers a few models. Android apps are usually developed in Java or related languages, but Apple uses their Objective-C and Swift languages. However, those with no experience with these languages, or even no coding experience at all, can buy their app from developers or build it with visual tools.

The Android Economy

The Android platform is in a healthier market position than ever. Its dominance of the global user base, rapid growth, extensive software and hardware options, and modular functionality have made it a permanent feature of the digital economy. It’s been introduced into hardware from budget to flagship smartphones, tablets, custom devices, and even new-model cars. Building a useful Android app can bring considerable value to businesses of any vertical, whether it’s a consumer-facing app or a tool for digital transformation. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a seasoned software developer to build one that meets your needs.

The Money – How much does building an Android app cost?

Development expenses can be prohibitive to launching an app. The custom development world is complex, with development options ranging in scale from freelance web and app developers to large-scale international agencies.rawpixel-570908-unsplash

Developing with an agency, especially those based in the U.S, is usually at least a five-figure endeavor for most businesses. Though it’s from 2015, this detailed market research from Clutch.co shows the median mobile app development expense to be between $37,913 and $171,450, with some projects costing as much as $500,000. Many developers point out technical differences between Android and iOS that sometimes mean Android projects can take longer, so if a project is billed hourly, one can expect that it may become costlier as well.

Working with opaque agencies often creates inconsistencies with billing, and from time to time there are massivehidden costs in app development. There are, of course, several options for saving time and cash during the development process, but they each have their respective pros and cons.

Offshore firms, for one, offer a much more cost-effective development process, usually with larger teams in Asia and Eastern Europe. An offshore firm’s services costs considerably less than a U.S-based one, but issues with time zones and language barriers can cause hiccups during the process, so partner with one at your own risk. There’s a statistical breakdown of development costs in our post on the differences between onshore and offshore pricing.

In addition to working with freelancers, onboarding full-time developers, or going through an agency, there are some alternatives that offer a non-developer the ability to build their own custom mobile apps, often more efficiently than one might with some of the traditional options.

Build an Android App Without Coding

There are several options for tech-oriented entrepreneurs to build their own apps without incurring the kind of costs that come with contracted development. Some of them are integrated into major platforms, such as Google App Maker and Microsoft PowerApps. These tools offer visual interfaces, usually using drag-and-drop options, to build out custom apps for web and mobile platforms.

However, for building an Android app, there are intricacies that make some of these environments more viable and flexible than others. Most of them will require at least some coding to build out robust functionality, so it’s worthwhile to consult this PC Mag breakdown of some of the leading low-code and no-code options for app development across several platforms. So-called “low-code” development environments have intuitive user experiences relative to text-based coding, but usually have no resources for support, customization, hosting, or any of the essential parts of building and using an app outside of its creation. To that end, they are often used by large firms with dedicated low-code platforms to launch apps faster, but sometimes fall short in terms of elegance and usability of the product.

The Hatch Apps platform works on a similar principle, to help non-developers who want an app build it themselves, but with additional flexibility to accommodate different users. For one, Hatch Apps is not only a software tool, but a dedicated software team with the capability to support and guide entrepreneurs in their use of our visual interface. Put simply, it’s an integration of the communication and support you get from an agency and the simplicity you get from a low-code environment. Hatch Apps also provides maintenance and hosting at more competitive and transparent rates than your typical agency, making for fewer moving parts on the client’s side.

Start Designing Your Custom App

Start Designing Your Custom App