Build Additional Features Into Your Free Mobile App Created With Appy Pie App
You are an entrepreneur without access to a software development team, however, you need to build an app for your business. What can you do? Well, you use an app builder like Appy Pie since it doesn’t require any coding skills!
Fast forward! You have now built an app with Appy Pie and launched it in the market. Now, you have received market feedback pointing out the need to add new features.
Given that platforms like Appy Pie have limitations, you won’t be able to add too many new features using the platform. You now need to undertake a software development project to build additional features in the Appy Pie app.
As I explained in “10 biggest challenges when developing an app”, software development projects can be hard to plan and execute. If you need help, then the good news is that you have found the right guide!
Appy Pie: A brief introduction
Appy Pie is an app builder. It’s a privately-held Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company founded in 2013, and the company is headquartered in the Greater Los Angeles Area, California, US. Note the following quick facts about Appy Pie:
- Users of Appy Pie can create mobile and web apps without any coding skills.
- The app builder supports Android, iOS, and web.
- Appy Pie has its marketplace and users can monetize their apps.
- Users of Appy Pie can choose from the available layouts.
- Appy Pie supports GPS, social media integration, push notifications, in-app purchases, and few more standard features.
- Users can create their app using the intuitive app builder, and publish it to the Appy Pie app store.
- Appy Pie has a tiered pricing plan. The free version lets you create a web app, whereas, you can create Android apps and “Progressive Web Apps” (PWAs) with the basic version. Its “Gold” version offers more features, however, you need to buy its “Platinum” plan to create an iOS app. With the “Platinum” plan, you can remove the Appy Pie logo.
- You can get a higher quota for push notifications as you buy higher-priced plans.
- While the basic plan features email-based customer support, the higher-priced plans have chat and phone-based support.
The pros and cons of Appy Pie
Appy Pie offers several advantages, e.g.:
- For entrepreneurs without access to a software development team, this zero-coding platform is good since they can launch their app quickly.
- The easy-to-use app builder comes with a set of standard features like in-app purchases, social media integration, and push notifications.
- You can cover key mobile platforms like Android and iOS when you buy its “Platinum” plan.
As with any software product, Appy Pie has a few disadvantages. These are as follows:
- While Appy Pie offers a few key features, you can’t customize the app builder to add more features. Depending on your business requirements, this can be a limitation.
The above isn’t an exhaustive list of the pros and cons of Appy Pie, and you can read “AppyPie review – half-baked or good enough?” for more insights.
How to build additional features into your Appy Pie mobile app
I will now explain what you need to do to build additional features into your Appy Pie app. You will need to take the following steps:
1. Define the project scope
Hire a competent project manager (PM), an IT architect, and a team of business analysts (BAs). The PM needs to lead discussions with your business stakeholders to gather the new requirements.
Set the expectations with your business stakeholders, who might want to give the best user experience to your users. That’s only possible with native apps, which requires a higher budget. Moreover, the investment in the Appy Pie app will become irrelevant.
Carrying on with a hybrid app will be less expensive, however, there will be trade-offs concerning user experience. Read “Choose the best — native app vs hybrid app” for more insights. I suggest that you use modern cross-platform mobile development frameworks like React Native. More on this shortly.
2. Choose the right SDLC model
You will add features to a mobile app, and you will likely do that in iterations. I recommend that you use the Agile SDLC model for this project since it supports iterative development. You can read “What is software development life cycle and what you plan for?” to learn more about Agile.
3. Plan for the mobile backend
You are building additional features in your Appy Pie app, which makes it a mobile app development project. Plan for the mobile backend, which takes a significant amount of time and energy to build and maintain.
I recommend that you use a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform, which manages the cloud infrastructure and persistent storage. This eliminates your effort to build and manage the mobile backend.
AWS Amplify is a robust MBaaS platform, and it offers the following additional advantages:
- You can easily implement features like user management, mobile app security, and push notifications.
- Amplify makes it easier to integrate APIs with your app.
- You can scale your mobile app easily with Amplify.
Read more about MBaaS platforms in “How to choose the best Mobile Backend as a Service (MBaaS)?”.
4. Choose React Native for developing the app further
You need to get the source code for your mobile app from Appy Pie, subsequently, you should use React Native to add more features to it. Facebook created React Native and open-sourced it in 2015.
With this cross-platform development framework, you can create both Android and iOS apps that deliver a near-native user experience. React Native offers various advantages, and these are as follows:
- The most obvious benefit is that you can create Android as well as iOS apps with the same codebase.
- You can use the React Native “Getting Started” guide on GitHub to get familiar with it.
- There are 3rd party libraries available for you to access the native modules when coding a React Native app.
- Developers experience high productivity since React Native has a hot reload feature.
- There is a vibrant developer community supporting React Native, therefore, you will get resolutions for your issues quickly.
- You can use 3rd party tools like Appium to test React Native apps.
- There are 3rd party libraries to help you with the build and release automation.
You can read “Flutter vs React Native: A developer’s perspective” to learn more about React Native.
5. Use GraphQL to design APIs
You will likely design and consume APIs as part of adding new features. Many developers consider Representational State Transfer (REST) as the standard for designing APIs, and it indeed offers many advantages.
However, GraphQL, a query language for APIs has emerged as a powerful alternative to REST. I recommend you use GraphQL since it offers the following advantages over REST:
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- RESTful APIs return all data in an API endpoint as a response to an API call. If an app needs less data, then it is receiving more than what it needs. This is called “over-fetching”. In the case of GraphQL, the developers can specify the exact data elements, therefore, they avoid this challenge.
- Similarly, if an app needs more data than what an API endpoint has, then it needs to make multiple API calls. We call this “under-fetching”, and the query capabilities of GraphQL eliminates this.
- Programmers often design RESTful API endpoints in line with their front-end views, and they just make an API call to get all data for that view. While this is helpful, if they change the view, then they will need to change the API too! This slows down front-end iterations, however, you can eliminate this challenge with the query capabilities of GraphQL.
You can read “REST vs. GraphQL” to learn more about this.
6. Form the complete development team
You now need to onboard the complete development team, therefore, you need to hire developers. In addition to their technical skills, great developers need several competencies, e.g., professional ethics, decision-making capabilities, the ability to collaborate, etc. Read our guide “How to find a good software developer” to learn more.
You need the following roles:
- UI designers;
- DevOps engineers.
In the first place, you had opted for Appy Pie since you didn’t have access to a software development team. Now you are planning for a development project, which is a big change for you!
You should hire a field expert developer team, which will help you to manage the complexities. Our guide “Freelance app development team vs. field expert software development teams” can help you with this.
7. Sign-up for a mobile device lab on the cloud for testing
Your mobile app needs to work on all mobile devices, therefore, you need to test it against a wide range of mobile devices. You need a mobile device lab on the cloud for this, and pCloudy provides just that.
8. Organize your team for success
Give your team the best chance to succeed, therefore, organize the team in a way that fosters collaboration. I recommend that you use the time-tested “Scrum” technique to manage this project since it works well for Agile projects.
As I had explained in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team?”, the following points concerning “Scrum” are worth noting:
- You should form a “Scrum team” where developers and testers work together. It’s a small, cross-functional team that thrives on collaboration.
- The PM should perform the role of the “Scrum master”.
- A “Product owner” provides the business requirements in a document named “Product Backlog”.
- Scrum teams are empowered, and the team estimates the requirements.
- The team then slots the requirements in various iterations, which are called “Sprints” in the scrum parlance. Business stakeholders work closely with the team during this process, which is called the “Sprint planning meeting”.
- The scrum master conducts “Daily stand-up meetings” where the team discusses the project status and resolves issues in a collaborative manner.
- When the team completes the work of a sprint, it demonstrates the app to the business stakeholders in a meeting called the “Sprint review meeting”. The business stakeholders approve the sprint provided the app works.
- A scrum team learns lessons from a completed sprint by holding a “Sprint retrospective meeting”.
You should use an effective PM tool like Asana to manage these activities.
9. Build the additional features
It’s time to build the additional features, and you should use the appropriate AWS Amplify documentation for guidance. Read “Storage”, which guides you to use the “AWS Amplify Storage” module, including the following:
- Automated set-up using “Command Line Interface” (CLI);
- Manual set-up;
- Testing the storage set-up.
I recommend that you read “Access your database”, which guides you about the following:
- Setting up your mobile backend;
- Creating a database;
- Connecting to your backend.
Read the “Getting started” guide for AWS Amplify on GitHub, where you can learn how to use React Native and GraphQL with Amplify.
Congratulations on successfully building additional features into your Appy Pie app!
Plan upfront for growing your business
If you have come up with a great idea for a mobile app for your business but want to test the water then Appy Pie might work for you at this stage.
However, due to the platform’s limitations, especially when it comes to features, it just won’t cut the mustard in the long term. In that case, you will need to engage a reputed software development company for your mobile app development. Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” can help you to find one.