This article will show you how to build an Android app, even if you’ve never coded before.
Apps are a huge part of our lives. We’re online more than ever before, and 90% of our time online is now spent using apps. Android apps are particularly omnipresent. Android holds over 70% of the mobile OS market share, and there are currently more than 2.7 million Android apps in the Google Play App Store.
Building Android apps today is easier than you'd think. Read on, and we’ll show you how.
How to Create an Android App in a Few Easy Steps
We'll show you the easiest, fastest, most cost-effective, and most convenient long-term solution to create your own Android apps today.
It’s perfect if you’ve never coded or are unfamiliar with mobile app development. Even if you can code an Android app or have access to developers, you might find this a better option.
You’ll build your app as a website first. Then, using MobiLoud, you will wrap it in Android code to allow your site to function on mobile devices. You’ll add mobile app UI elements to your site, users will be able to download and install it on their phones, and you’ll be able to publish it to the Google Play store.
This is the best way to create apps for 90-95% of use cases. If it doesn’t work for you, we’ll show you a few alternative Android development methods later.
Without anything further, here’s a 7-step process to create an Android app.
1: Create Your App as a Mobile-Optimized Website
First, build your app as a website.
“But I want to build an Android app, not a website!”
Sure. We’ll get to the app part. But you’ll find this is the easiest way to do it, particularly if you’ve never made an app before.
Websites and web apps are much easier to make than mobile apps. Anyone can make and maintain a website, with even limited technical ability. Once you have this, you can convert your site to an app much easier than building an app from scratch.
Depending on the type of app you want to build, there are multiple ways to build your website.
For a content app (such as a blog, news app, or digital magazine), use WordPress.
If you want to create a more interactive app, you can use a no-code app maker like Bubble.
Whichever method you choose, create your site as if you were making an Android app. Design your app layout for mobile screen sizes and build it with the knowledge that people will tap and swipe to get around.
2: Sign Up for MobiLoud
Next, create a MobiLoud account.
MobiLoud is part app builder, part service, which will do most of the work to convert your website into an Android app.
It will create a “wrapper app.” This is a hybrid mobile app that displays a live window to your website wrapped in the code and UI of a mobile app.
As you’ll see in the example above, your app will be made from a combination of “webviews” (where your web content is displayed) and mobile UI like tabs, a nav menu, and header.
You'll end up with something like this:
It's more or less the same layout you built for the web, but altered slightly for an optimal mobile user experience.
All it takes is a few small things to configure for your app, which we’ll do in the following steps.
3: Input Your Site Details
Add a few things from your site, such as its URL and your primary colors. The builder will pull the content from your website and create a live preview of your Android app.
4: Configure Your Mobile App UI
Now you can fine-tune the mobile UI elements that will be layered on top of your web content.
Here you can customize your tabs, navigation, and colors. Hit “Test App” at any time to get a preview of your app.
5: Configure Mobile Settings (Logins, Push Notifications & Ratings Prompts)
Finish by configuring a few things specific to the app.
First, set up your push notifications. MobiLoud integrates with OneSignal, the leading push notification provider on the market, to give you unlimited use of push notifications from your Android app.
Configure how logins work (if applicable).
And finally, you can set up automatic ratings prompts to get reviews and user feedback once you launch.
When all of this is done, hit “Publish.”
Once you’ve configured your app, it will be passed on to our team. We write the mobile app code to turn your website into a working app.
This will take no more than a couple of weeks, at which time we’ll let you know that your finished app is ready for testing.
You’ll be able to download it to your Android device, test it, and let us know if you’d like to change anything.
Give the final go-ahead, and we’ll ship the final version of your app, compatible with Android devices.
We’ll also handle the app store submission process, helping you get your app listing live in the Google Play store.
If you want to do anything else as part of your launch here, such as promoting your app on social media, you can do so at this point. Otherwise, just wait until we notify you that you’re officially published in the app store.
Other Ways to Create an Android App
"Even if the app works exactly like the website, something about having a specific button on your phone to launch it makes it feel so modern. And the app actually works faster than the website!" - Nick Barbarise, John Varvatos
As we mentioned, this is the ideal way to create an Android app for almost all use cases.
For some kinds of apps, it may not make sense to build a website and convert it into an app. If the website to app approach doesn’t fit for you, here are some alternative ways to build an Android app.
Code It Yourself
If you know how to code, you could develop apps yourself.
This requires you to know an Android programming language, such as Java or Kotlin. If this is the first Android app you’ve developed, be aware that coding it from scratch will take a long time.
If you have the time and the ability, this is a way to have more control over your end product, full integration with the Android OS, and a sense of accomplishment of having created an Android app from scratch.
Best if: you’re proficient in mobile programming, have some spare time, and want the experience of actually coding an Android app yourself.
Android Studio is an official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android app development.
It’s a code editor made specifically for building apps using the Android SDK. You’ll still need to know your way around Java/Kotlin code, but Android Studio will speed up your workflow and help you compile code.
It also features an Android device simulator, or emulator, that you can use to preview and test your app before launching.
This is still not as simple as building for the web and converting your app to an Android app, but it’s probably the best option if you want to do it yourself.
Best if: you have some coding skills and want to create an app yourself but need a little help.
Outsource to an Android Developer
Another option is outsourcing the development process to a professional Android app developer.
This should only be a consideration if the app you want to build really can’t be done for the web first. It’s expensive, complex, and time-consuming.
Mobile developers don’t come cheap. The average base salary for an Android developer is $111,000 per year in the US. Considering the time it takes to create an app, and the additional cost of hiring a project manager, designer, testing staff etc, you’re looking at a 5-6 figure cost to outsource your app development.
Consider whether this is really necessary, and something you can afford. In most cases, it’s not.
Best if: the app is something you can’t build for the web and you have the budget to outsource development.
Drag and Drop App Builders
Finally, you could use a drag-and-drop-style no-code app builder to create your Android application.
These tools give you a visual interface to drag and drop pre-coded blocks onto a canvas and build an app without coding.
These tools let you create an Android app quickly for a very low cost. But they’re very limited, so don’t expect to be able to create anything more than a simple, cookie-cutter app.
Best if: you want to build a very simple Android app and are on a tight budget.
6 Reasons Why MobiLoud is the Best Way to Build Android Apps
Let’s expand on why building your app for the web and then converting it to a mobile app is the best way to create an Android app.
As we mentioned, mobile app developers are costly. It’s hard to develop Android apps, so if you’re paying someone to do it, expect to pay top dollar.
If you’re doing it yourself, consider the cost of your time and the opportunity cost of spending this time coding an app.
MobiLoud is much, much cheaper than you’d pay a developer, and building for the web is also significantly easier and more affordable than for a mobile OS.
"It was so amazing as a small business owner to be able to offer an app without going into debt, without having to get investors.” - Jake Gracia, Train the Mind
Launching your own Android app with MobiLoud is quick. The website to app process takes just a few weeks, compared to several months (at least), to build an app from scratch.
That leaves the time it takes to build for the web. Unless you’re doing something really sophisticated here, the entire process (building your website and converting it to an app) could take as little as one month.
MobiLoud is part tool, part service.
The service piece is particularly valuable. It’s a huge plus to have experts just a call or message away if you have any problems or questions. You’ve also got someone on hand to help manage your project and navigate the app store submission process.
"What really appealed to me about MobiLoud was that you guys are there to fix things if something goes wrong. From looking at the reviews, I knew I was going to get the level of support that I wanted." - Pam Barnhill, Your Morning Basket
Maintenance is one of the least thought-about parts of developing an app.
The journey is not over once you launch. You’ll want to keep updating and improving your app, as well as fixing bugs and making sure it doesn’t break with new versions of the Android OS.
Updates and maintenance come with MobiLoud. You don’t have to worry about doing this yourself, or paying an expensive developer’s hourly rates.
Also, by having the majority of your code on the web, you can easily update your app by yourself. If you build directly for mobile, you’ll need to pull someone in any time you want to make a minor change, which will get extremely costly.
You might want to specifically build an Android app, but it will benefit you to be on other channels as well.
Doing it this way, you’ll have a website, which will help you get more new users. And if you want to cover the whole mobile app market, you'll also get an iOS app from MobiLoud for no extra work or cost.
All the Features You Need from an App
Though MobiLoud Android apps are not technically native, they do almost everything you’d want a native app to do. This includes letting you send push notifications and allowing users to download the app from the Google Play store.
Some would say you can do the same thing (a simple webview wrapper app) in Android Studio, with minimal coding.
You can - it’s relatively straightforward to create a plain app shell, drag a webview into your app and publish it with an Android Studio project - but you’ll be missing out on the seamless integration of mobile UI elements that you get with MobiLoud.
In other words, if you build a webview app in Android Studio, it will look like a webview app. If you build it with MobiLoud, it will look just like a native app.
The first will offer a poor user experience and is unlikely to be approved by the Google Play store. The second will feel like a professionally coded native app.
It’s easier than ever to create an Android app today. Using an Android app maker like MobiLoud means you don’t need to spend years learning to code or pay hundreds of thousands to mobile app developers to get the app you’ve dreamed of making.
Though it seems circuitous, creating your app for the web first is the best way to build an Android app.
It's the most efficient, affordable, and easiest to maintain.
Get a free, personalized demo today to learn how MobiLoud can help you launch your very own Android app.