Looking for a BuddyBoss app alternative? MobiLoud Canvas might be for you!
First – some context.
BuddyBoss is a big name in the WordPress space, building great themes that allow you to create membership programs, courses, and communities.
A while back, they moved into the mobile app space with BuddyBoss App – a service that turns BuddyBoss sites into native mobile apps. Our platform, MobiLoud Canvas, also turns BuddyBoss sites into iOS and Android apps.
They are very different services though – and Canvas is a great BuddyBoss app alternative for the right person. In this article, we’re going to explain why. Let’s get started.
MobiLoud Canvas vs BuddyBoss App – the key differences
The first major difference is the technical paradigm. BuddyBoss app creates native apps, Canvas creates hybrid apps.
Let’s look at this in more depth.
Native vs Hybrid
BuddyBoss app works by pulling content from WordPress into native mobile apps built with React Native. They have built native templates that are used for creating each app.
Canvas on the other hand creates hybrid apps combining native navigation elements with web content and screens coming directly from your site. Content is not pulled from your site into the apps through an API, rather the apps display your site (or any HTML content).
Canvas adds all the native elements to create full featured apps with a great user experience like a native tab menu, push notifications interface and settings. Quite a lot is happening in the background making sure the user experience is as close as possible to that of a native app, using native animations, UI elements, loading indicators, swipe actions and more.
This is a proven model, used by many top tech companies like Quora or Basecamp.
Is a hybrid app enough?
The main criticisms of wrapper apps are:
- Worse performance
On the performance side, this criticism is outdated and often stems from Facebook’s infamous decision to ditch its hybrid apps 10 years ago.
At the time hybrid was objectively worse than native in terms of performance and speed. Technology has changed though. The mobile internet is a lot faster than it was back then. Now when you build hybrid apps with Canvas they’ll be just as fast as the website they are built with. And if you use caching and good hosting, your site will be pretty fast, loading within 2-3 seconds.
When it comes to building apps from websites, there’s nothing exceptional about native. Both BuddyBoss’s native approach and our hybrid approach result in solid, functional apps.
Not only are hybrid apps just as good as native apps for most use cases, but they actually have some significant advantages.
For one you can do more with your existing skills and team. Want to build more functionality into your apps? If you know how to build for the web you can build it for the apps too. By combining the flexibility of the web with the great UX of native apps, hybrid gives you more options and let’s you get more done with less!
Canvas brings this one step further, not only you can build your app with your existing web development team or skills, you can have a single codebase and web application power your web and mobile app experience. Over time, this leads to a huge time and cost saving and a significant advantage vs native, allowing you maximum flexibility and efficiency when adding new functionality or making design changes.
Perhaps that’s why, according to UX Matters:
“We know that Facebook, Evernote, Instagram, LinkedIn, Uber, Slack, Twitter, Gmail, the Amazon Appstore, and many others are or have been WebView apps”
Amazon has relied heavily on webviews to create their mobile apps in the past, and Basecamp also does this and wrote extensively about their approach.
Why did these giants choose a “shortcut”? It’s simple – hybrid just makes sense. It’s up to you to decide whether that’s the case for your business.
Integrating site functionality
Although both create apps that sync closely with your site – BuddyBoss App and MobiLoud Canvas integrate site functionality in quite different ways. Let’s have a look at how.
BuddyBoss app natively integrates functionality from BuddyBoss, LearnDash, and several major plugins like Restrict Content Pro that they built integrations for.
If your site uses third party plugins that are not supported, then there’s a workaround in the form of “web fallbacks”. This uses webviews to essentially display web content in an in-app browser – with the header and footer removed to better integrate with the app’s user experience.
This could work well if, for example, you use WooCommerce on your site. The apps could be configured to open the WooCommerce store through web fallbacks – so you could still effectively use it in the apps.
This may or may not be a limitation for you depending on your site and what you want to achieve with the apps. If you have plugins with specific outputs that are appropriate for display in dedicated pages – it’s fine. Web Fallbacks are a good solution for a shop for example.
How is Canvas different?
Canvas’s value proposition here is clear – keep everything from your site, working exactly as it does on the web, straight out of the box. No extra steps or workarounds are required, all plugins and site features will just work as default.
No matter what your site currently does, Canvas is a direct route to translating that exactly into mobile apps. Whenever you want to add a new plugin to your site there’s nothing extra to do, it just works straight away. That’s why Canvas may be a better solution if your site relies on a lot of different plugins for functionality, if you’re planning on building a custom designed website and expanding functionality beyond what BuddyBoss provides.
With BuddyBoss App, your current site theme is irrelevant. As the apps are separate from your site, it has no impact on them.
This means that if there’s anything you particularly like from your them, whether it’s the standard theme or something you’ve achieved through custom code, you’ll lose that in the app, unless it’s covered by the native BuddyBoss App design.
With Canvas this isn’t the case, you can reuse your existing theme in the apps and keep any functionality derived from it.
There is also the possibility of using a specific theme for the app only. You aren’t limited. Your website theme and app theme could be the same, slightly different versions of the same theme or completely different themes. What matters is you’re fully in control, all you need are WordPress development skills, which you or your team probably already has.
Contrast that with BuddyBoss App and their native approach, whereby you’ll have to hire React Native developers or have those skills in house to create anything custom, outside of what the web fallback option provides.
No waiting lists, two week turnaround
BuddyBoss App operates a waiting list. You may need to wait a few months for them to get around to your project.
With Canvas there are no waiting lists – we have the capacity to build as many apps as necessary.
You just get a demo, configure the apps (or we do it for you), and in two weeks you’ll be ready to launch on the App Store and Google Play.
How about Service?
BuddyBoss provides 24/7 support through a ticketing system handled by their support team. The service generally gets good reviews from customers.
We also support customers 24/7, but it’s arguably more personalized and one-on-one. We start by getting to know you and your project and suggest the best solution we can provide. We always have an onboarding meeting to guide you through the initial steps, including providing all the information we need to build and publish your app. We then support you directly through email – you’ll know our product manager and team members by name – and we’re ready to get on a call if needs be.
One of the things MobiLoud clients love the most in their feedback is our level of service and support, check out our customer stories to hear more.
DIY vs Full Service
With both platforms, you have the option of DIY or full service. Even though our platform requires no development skills, many of our customers opt for full service and have our team build the apps for them.
With both BuddyBoss App and MobiLoud Canvas, you can configure the apps yourself on the platform. With Canvas this is done through our simple dashboard. You’ll define everything from the color scheme to the native tab menu and login options.
Although you, or your developer, will perform the configuration – our team will support you and you can use our detailed documentation wherever necessary.
The platforms are similar in this regard.
Both Canvas and BuddyBoss App offer the option for full service. With BuddyBoss App this includes:
- Setup and configuration
- Matching the design to your brand
- Preparing icons, splash screens, and App Store screenshots
With Canvas, the full service includes:
- A kick-off meeting with our product manager
- Configure the apps on our platform, including small customizations
- We design professional icons, splash screens and screenshots
- Small customizations to adapt your website to provide an app-like experience
- Recommendations to guarantee an approval by the App Stores
When it comes to publishing the apps we handle preparing, submitting and publishing the apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play.
In the case of MobiLoud Canvas, our team will thoroughly test the apps before submission and generate all the necessary files beforehand.
We also communicate with Google and Apple on your behalf to ensure a smooth process and a successful launch.
One difference here is that BuddyBoss App does not explicitly guarantee App Store approval, although they state that they have a history of 100% success.
We do guarantee approval – or we’ll refund you 100%. If the apps get sent back for any reason, we will make the necessary updates to satisfy the platform requirements.
- BuddyBoss App pricing starts at $179/m (annually) or $219/month
- MobiLoud Canvas pricing starts at $80/m (annually) or $100/month (early stage program)
At the lowest tier, BuddyBoss App’s pricing is almost 125% more expensive.
We also have higher tiers more suitable for businesses at different levels of maturity. You can check out all our plans here and see which works best for you.
One thing to note is that to modify the BuddyBoss app Reac Native source code, you need to purchase an add-on at $299 and then pay $79/month or be on their higher plans, starting at $349/month. This pricing makes sense, given they’ll need to support your development team.
With Canvas this sort of access is not needed, since you or your team can completely customize the app experience by simply modifying your WordPress theme, building a separate theme for the app or injecting CSS code though our plugin’s code editor, as needed. If you have developers on your team there are a lot of options for app customization, without the need for native development.
Full service pricing
When it comes to full service, Canvas is $1,350 compared to $1,999 for BuddyBoss App. Both are one-time fees.
With Canvas, you will also pay a required $500 one-off submission fee that covers the work required to extensively test your app and prepare it for submission. With BuddyBoss App this costs $349 on monthly plans, although this is waived on annual plans.
Overall we can see that the price of building mobile apps with Canvas is lower than with BuddyBoss App, both in terms of monthly investment and the one-time full service setup.
Learn more about Canvas pricing here.
Which is lower risk?
Neither tie you into long term contracts.
We offer a 60-day money back guarantee if you cancel for whatever reason, so there’s no chance of you paying for an app you’re not happy with. We also guarantee your app will be approved, or you get your money back.
BuddyBoss App has a 21 day full refund policy.
MobiLoud Canvas is lower risk – since you have 3x more time covered by the full refund policy.
Why MobiLoud Canvas is a great BuddyBoss App Alternative
BuddyBoss App is a solid product, but Canvas has some unique advantages.
- No waiting lists, launch in 2 weeks
- Integrate all plugin functionality from BuddyBoss, LearnDash, and anything else you use
- Reuse your theme and keep all its functionality and features
- A more personalised, hands-on level of service
- More potential for customization at a lower cost
- Lower risk
BuddyBoss app is a better choice if you are intent on having a “native” app – and you’re willing to accept the compromises that come with the platform.
That said, Canvas has a clear edge if:
- You want to keep your existing theme
- You want customization options out of the box
- You want to move fast instead of waiting around
- You want personalized, hands-on service
- You want to spend less money
Canvas is better for you if you want to stick to the web. Want to add new customizations on the app? You can just do it through WordPress. Want to add new functionality to the apps through a plugin? Add it to your site and it’ll work instantly! The fact that Canvas apps mirror your site so closely lets you do more, with your existing skills and team. This, combined with our Code Editor and the ability to use a dedicated theme for the apps, gives you a very wide range of options.
With Canvas, a WordPress power user really has complete control over the app’s UI from WordPress, and if you need more, you can change everything about the native parts of the app from our remote configuration dashboard.
So that’s it! We’ve done our best to give an honest and objective comparison between BuddyBoss app and Canvas. Now it’s up to you to decide.
Start building your app today!
We’ll walk you through the entire process and answer all your questions. In just 20 minutes, you’ll know if MobiLoud Canvas is the BuddyBoss App alternative for you.
Let’s get started – book a demo today