Making an iPhone app with Appmakr

In my previous post I announced the new Dave Walker / CartoonChurch.com iPhone app (search for ‘CartoonChurch’ in iTunes). I made my app using Appmakr and a few people have contacted me about doing the same. This is a summary of some of the positive and negative aspects of making an app this way in…

In my previous post I announced the new Dave Walker / CartoonChurch.com iPhone app (search for ‘CartoonChurch’ in iTunes).

I made my app using Appmakr and a few people have contacted me about doing the same. This is a summary of some of the positive and negative aspects of making an app this way in my experience. If you have no intention of making an iPhone app this post will be of no interest whatsoever.

Positives
1. The quality of the app is generally very good. My app has one bug (sometimes reverting to portrait dimensions when in landscape) but overall the quality is better than I was hoping for.
2. This is by far the cheapest way to get an iPhone app online that I have discovered.
3. The process is fairly easy to undertake, though I spent a few hours trying to find answers to questions in the support section. Editing the splash screen and header image were the most time consuming aspects for me.
4. Once you’ve paid that’s it – no ongoing costs unless you want to modify it, in which case you pay the whole fee again every time.

Negatives
1. The price if you’re on a budget. Making an app is an expensive thing to do compared with setting up a website, which can be done for next to nothing these days. I took the option of a very generous discount code which several well-known bloggers were offering at the time, but unfortunately these aren’t available any more. The basic cost is now $199, a lot if you are a small operation. I was sent a discount code to reduce that by $50, but I later noticed that it had already expired when I got the e-mail. I have asked Appmakr for another code. [Message to Appmakr if you’re reading: Please give us another code! It would be great if you could give a generous discount for my readers, many of whom are charity workers without a lot of money. Thank you!]
2. There is absolutely no guarantee that your app will be accepted by Apple. I made two apps – one was accepted and the other wasn’t. I’ll write more about the app that didn’t make it another time. I can resubmit it, but it will cost me an extra $49 and I’m not quite sure how I can improve it. There’s no refund of your initial outlay if your app is turned down, meaning it could be an expensive experiment with nothing to show for it.
3. Once you submit your app you can’t make any changes. That is it. Any change means paying the whole fee again. As far as I understand it if you have your own developer account you can make changes whenever you want, so for someone with the technological ability that would seem to be the better way to go.
4. In theory you can use Facebook feeds in your app, but I couldn’t make them validate. In hindsight I don’t think a Facebook feed would have added much.
5. It doesn’t display Twitter feeds very well – you get the first few words (cut off) as the title, and then a few more words (still cut off) as the body of the message. Probably not what you want to use if you app is centred around Twitter posts.

Other things to be aware of
1. The whole process takes a number of weeks. I submitted my app on 18 January and it went live yesterday, 3 February.
2. One question that took me ages to answer: Appmakr advise against making the app name different from the icon name. I did make them different and it has worked (in one case at least). You put the full name in the form you get after you submit and pay.
3. For other examples of Appmakr apps search in iTunes for Scobleizer or Seth Godin.
4. Other services are available. I suspect the price may come down over time.
5. If your app isn’t based around news feeds this isn’t the service for you.