"I've heard that a relatively inexpensive way to get an app in the App Store is to turn my website into a mobile app. How does that work and what would it cost?"
Barry, Owner, Senior Consultant
Barry has over 5 years of experience developing native mobile apps for clients, line-of-busniess mobile apps for fortune 500 companies, and original apps for the Apple App Store.
When I meet with a client who is looking to build an app, the first thing I do is try to determine if they really need a full-blown app, or if they have an existing web-property that can be converted into one. It turns out that major app development kits contain what is referred to as a "Chromeless web browser", which means you can launch an app that simply opens a web-page from the internet. There are some downsides to this, which we will get to in a moment, but the upsides are pretty strong. If you're new to this game, I probably just blew your mind, so lets slow down and take it easy while I walk you through the concept.
Apps come in a variety of flavors. You can make them as complex and bulky as you can imagine, but they can also be very lightweight and simple with just a few buttons and some text. Some apps, because they need to do a LOT of work, require that most of the code for the app reside in the installable file that Apple distributes to phones from the App Store. Games and other CPU-intensive apps tend to fall in the heavyweight category, as most of the app assets are bundled with the app installer. But, in some cases, there's not a reason to bundle ANY logic in the app, and you can simply use the app as a window through which you can view your existing website.
This begs the question: If you're just loading your website as a "window" in the app when it launches, why bother at all with making such an app. There are a handful of compelling reasons:
- Your brand (app icon) is on your customer's phone home-screen
- Your company will show up in searches in the App Store
- You can extend this app to do more things later (like push notifications, et al)
- Having a nice-looking app in the App Store sends a strong brand message
If there are upsides to having your brand at the top of someone's phone screen and opening up a new channel of customer acquisition, then there must be downsides, right?. Well, yes, and there are a few worth mentioning:
- Apple hates (actively works to reject) apps that just load websites
- Website apps can't load content when the user is offline
- There is a yearly Apple Developer licensing fee
- You'll need help from a developer to get your app in the Store
- Your website needs to be "responsive", which means it must use a layout that plays nice with mobile phones
Cost to Convert a Website to an AppHere is a breakdown of the steps necessary to build an app using your website.
- Creating the necessary certificates and provisioning profiles
- Creating an app wrapper that handles connection states (loading, ready, error, retry)
- Converting assets to various required sizes
- Testing in the simulator/emulator
- Building and signing the installable file, validating and uploading
- Creating app record (adding app icon, description, keywords, urls, etc)
- Submitting for review
- The cost: $650 for the first platform, $300 for each additional. (iOS, Android, and Windows Mobile)
- Tabs + basic custom calculator (add $300)
- Extra two pages with custom text/image content (add $300)
Converting your website into a mobile app is a viable and inexpensive way to get your brand into the app store, and its an route that many businesses are choosing to take. We've made it easy for you to get started. All you need to do is email your website url and an image to use for your app icon to firstname.lastname@example.org. If that's too much to ask, you can just call us at: (316) 350-5541