Apps are more difficult to build than websites; there are more moving parts and Android and iOS are very different platforms. Shoutem aims to make basic mobile app creation a simple, visual, drag-and-drop process while still retaining a high level of quality and polish.
Let's see how well they do!
Mobile Templating for Dummies
Getting Started is easy. Choose from a selection of templates and themes, ranging from travel related, dating to ecommerce and product showcase.
Next select a rough theme (this case be adjusted at a later stage) including colour scheme and typogoraphy. Finally choose the layout style you want for navigation, sidebar, bottom tabs or modal popup.
For our experiment, we are going to start with the travel adventure base template, the dark edge to edge theme and the classic "tabs" navigation.
Once created, signing up with FB or Google logins will allow you to continue building out your mobile app project.
The Mighty Shoutem Editor
The bread and butter of modifying your base theme creation and adding content to your app is the Shoutem editor; a surprisingly pleasant online based editor that resembles something more like the quality of Sketch.
The editor is pretty straight forward to use and although complex user interfaces cannot really be made, it will probably suffice for 90% of users' wishes out there.
Screens for all types of Jeans
Building up your application content is as simple as
Defining the screens that you want your users to see
Selecting the most appropriate layout for the content on that particular screen
Finally, adding the content.
Each screen can get its own specific layout based on a pretty wide range of pre-built templates.
My favourite is the 'medium size list with a featured item'
Navigating around your App
You can easily switch between different navigation styles for your mobile app in the Main Navigation window.
- Tab bar
- Icon grid
- Or have None (you'll be using the back button a lot)
You can always come back to it later or try out different options and get a live demo of your app using the Preview mode on the right side
Adding some content
At its core Shoutem is really a very good Content Management System (CMS) for your mobile app. Think wordpress but for a mobile app. It's pretty impressive.
Adding a new image and text content for a sub-section or post brings up a very easy to use system much the same as Wordpress or Ghost.
You can paste URLs to images instead of having to upload them each time to shoutem and there doesn't seem to be a limit on the number of posts you can create.
Publish this App
To actually publish the Mobile App, you need to submit to the relevant app Google Play Store (Android) or Apple App Store (iOS).
You will need to have Developer accounts with both Apple ($99/year) and Google ($25/year) *although Shoutem will let you publish on Android under theire developer account for free.
Now for the cost, as nothing this slick and intuitive can be free:
Most people will require the standard plan at a cost fo $79 USD/per month. Not exactly cheap, but when you consider the development cost for a complete app from scratch and the maintenance required it seems fair.
Note, as of writing, Shoutem only allows you to publish 1 app. I think for the cost, they could have thrown in an additional app or two to sweeten the deal.
The Mobile Creator Conclusion
This makes is it an attractive first step in building out a prototypew app quickly and putting it on the App/Play stores before perhaps taking your mobile app to the next level with a proper developer to move it on.
We like Shoutem, it's a nifty little app builder focussing on content.
Keep on Building!