Flask is one of the easiest web frameworks to get started with. Thanks to its minimalistic structure, you can get a web app up and running in no time at all.
Because of its versatility, Flask is used by many big tech companies like Reddit, Netflix, Lyft, Mozilla and Uber. So what did you build with Flask, and what are your plans for its future?
Your flask web app likely works great now on mobile and desktop browsers - but is that enough? How can you grow beyond the web?
One smart route is to develop and launch iOS and Android apps alongside your Flask web app. Flask itself is a purely a web framework though, so the path to the App Stores isn’t completely clear.
Are there any simple, efficient ways to convert your flask application into mobile apps for iOS and Android?
Yes and no.
If you want the conversion to be done in-house, you don’t have many great options. Most methods involve an extensive rewrite of your existing codebase, or in some cases, starting entirely from scratch.
On the other hand our platform, MobiLoud, can convert your Flask app into mobile applications for iOS and Android in under two weeks, with minimal effort on your part, at a bootstrap-friendly price tag.
More on that later. In this article we want to give you the full picture. We’re going to start by going through the reasons why you should convert your flask app into mobile apps - then we’re going to move on to the how.
We’ll go through all the most promising methods and their various pros and cons, then we’ll contrast them with our platform MobiLoud so that you can make an informed decision.
Firstly, the big question. Do you even need mobile apps? What are the benefits of converting your Flask app to iOS and Android apps? Let’s find out.
Why You Should Convert Your Flask Web App to Native Mobile Apps
Thanks to the massive growth in the number of mobile users, websites are steadily becoming less and less relevant. A large portion of users interact with the virtual world primarily through apps installed on their phone - which are easier to access and offer a more integrated experience.
A big part of it is modern expectations of UX. 10 years ago pulling up a mobile browser, typing in a URL, and waiting a few seconds for it to load still seemed pretty high tech still for the average person. Now even with fast responsive mobile sites, that model is starting to feel old fashioned for anything other than exploration through search engines.
Modern users expect fast, one tap navigation around their devices and an app-like experience for any tool, service or platform they intend to use regularly and habitually.
Consumers today are also more easily distractible with more apps, sites and brands competing for their attention than ever before.
Converting your flask app to native mobile apps helps here in two ways.
Firstly, it allows you to meet modern expectations with a fast, intuitive and convenient native app UX. Just one tap and they are straight into your app without dealing with the browser middleman, then the native navigation within the apps gives them a smooth experience that is more likely to keep them engaged.
Secondly, apps help with the distraction factor. Once your app is downloaded on users’ phones, the icon on their home screens is a constant reminder of your brand as well as a quick route to it. Apps also offer a more ‘enclosed’ experience - with no other browser tabs to compete for attention and less distractions in general.
Taken together, these are the main reasons we see higher loyalty, engagement and even conversions on mobile apps versus their counterparts on the mobile web.
It’s a little more than that though. Apps provide a ‘home’ for your most loyal users and biggest fans. We’re increasingly seeing the emergence of a model where the main site or web app is used as the entry point of the ‘funnel’ and to pick up organic and referral traffic. Meanwhile native apps are promoted as a way to retain users for the long haul and build a deeper connection with them.
This makes sense considering that apps self select for your biggest fans in the first place - they are the ones likely to download it - and then provide the perfect channel for engaging and retaining them.
This is helped significantly by push notifications. With iOS and Android apps, you can send push notifications to all your app users whenever you like with whatever content you wish. Push notifications have an open rate 5x higher than email, are not restricted in reach like social media posts, and allow you to target iOS and Android users effectively, unlike web notifications. They are the perfect channel to reach your users efficiently with your message.
With the visibility of the home screen icon, a fast one-tap into the app, a superior UX and the regular reminders through push notifications - it’s clear why apps help users to build habits around a brand. That’s why apps have emerged as a key part of modern product strategy both startups and large tech companies alike.
The benefits don’t end there. Just having a presence on the Google Play and the App Store is a significant boost in and of itself.
For a start people use the App Stores to search for solutions for their problems, much like they use Google and Bing for the same purpose. If you optimize well for App Store SEO - you’ll pick up new users who are searching for related keywords and would likely not have found you on the crowded mobile web. There are billions of people on the App Stores, so the potential for acquiring new users is huge, depending on your niche.
We can see then that apps help out at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel. They also give you a branding boost. Businesses with slick looking apps look established and serious about mobile UX - which can impress potential users, partners and investors alike. On the other hand, if someone searches for you on the stores (after visiting your site) and sees nothing, it can be a hit to their perception of your brand.
These are some of the main reasons to convert your flask web app to mobile apps for iOS and Android.
They provide a superior UX, a better communication channel through push, and a home for your most loyal users - which can lead to more conversions, more engagement and more growth.
A Flask web app is an excellent way to get an idea into execution as quickly as possible. It’s great for new users and those on desktop, but it isn’t enough on its own. The natural next step is to convert your Flask app into mobile apps!
Getting there isn’t always easy, but we’re going to show you exactly how to do it. Let’s get started.
How to Convert a Flask App into a Native Mobile App
There are a couple of problems in trying to port a flask web app into a mobile application.
Web applications are inherently different from mobile apps. It is not a question of simply coding in the right language; the technological stack itself is completely distinct.
Flask is written in Python. While a popular and relatively easy to learn language, Python is not natively supported by any mobile platform.
Your Flask web app won’t magically convert to a native mobile app - sadly that technology does not exist. You essentially have two options - rebuild or repackage.
Rebuild Your Flask Web App as a Native Mobile App
The ‘rebuild’ methods involve building a native or hybrid app from scratch. Basically, you build a native mobile app that communicates with your Flask backend through an API. You will be able to reuse very little of your existing code, and end up having to recreate many of your web app’s features from scratch on the native iOS and Android platforms. Although this can give a solid result in the end, there’s no avoiding the work - and it is a lot of work.
You’ll be looking at many months and mid five figure investment (minimum) to get a first version on iOS and Android, and that’s not to mention the significant cost of updates, maintenance and future iterations. Depending on your practical and business requirements for the apps, all this effort and expense might be redundant and the high opportunity cost unnecessary.
Repackage Your Flask Web App as a Mobile App
The ‘repackage’ method is more straightforward and efficient. With ‘webview’ technology, your Flask web app can run in a native container on iOS and Android, be installed on users phones, and distributed and promoted on the App Stores. There is no ‘replicating’ because it is your flask app, running as a mobile app.
If your flask app works well on a mobile browser there is no reason it won’t work equally well through a webview, if done right. Even though you’re ‘wrapping’ your existing app in the shell of native apps - you still have the flexibility to add features and functionalities on top to make it more than just a copy of your flask app. There aren’t many webview solutions that give a true app experience, but the best will have native tab menus, navigation, push notifications, and all the other key UX components to pull it off. Your users won’t know you took a shortcut.
The downside of webviews is that in some cases you’re limited. Some of the device features accessible to custom built native apps won’t be as accessible. Does your app really need to use the phone’s accelerometer though?
Traditionally webviews were seen as slower too. This doesn’t have to be the case though, the technology has progressed a lot. So long as your web app runs optimally, the mobile apps will be fast too. Speed can also be a problem with poorly built native apps - in both cases it's all about the implementation.
Our platform, MobiLoud, uses the latest webview and caching technology to ensure that iOS and Android apps run at maximum speed and efficiency.
We built the perfect wrapper and added all the necessary features to create a true native experience. We can convert your flask web app to iOS and Android apps in just a few weeks while you get to save 90% of the cost compared to native development.
In the vast majority of cases, this makes more sense than rebuilding - and we’re going to explain why in the rest of this article.
We want to give you the full picture though, so first we will look at all the viable alternatives from both the ‘rebuild’ and ‘repackage’ methods, consider their pros and cons, then lay out MobiLoud in more detail.
Let’s get started.
Python-for-android is probably the only ‘direct’ way of translating your flask app to a native application.
Basically, python-for-android is a tool that can package python code into a standalone android apk. You can take your flask project and directly convert it into an installable app.
It is a bit more involved than that though. As we mentioned before, native mobile apps use a different stack to web applications. Simply packaging the code in an apk file is not going to work.
The developers of the tool understand this and provide a plethora of ‘bootstraps’ to choose from. Each bootstrap serves as a functional backend for your web app. Theoretically, you could plug in your flask project into the right backend and get a working application without needing to write any extra code.
In practice, it will take a lot of time (and extra development) to make things mesh together. Dependencies have to be specified, configurations have to be fiddled with before you can arrive at anything workable.
Unfortunately, the user interface won’t be that great, and there is no way to apply this ‘hack’ on iOS. If you only want to target Android though, this could potentially be a shortcut to Google Play compared to native development from scratch.
Cross-Platform with Kivy
Kivy is a popular Python library that allows for the development of cross-platform multi-touch applications. It is free to use, well documented, and runs on every platform (including iOS and Android) with the same code.
The problem is that it does not help with converting web apps. Kivy is meant for building native offline applications that work across different devices. Flask, on the other hand, is a web framework, relying on web technologies for much of the heavy lifting.
This means that things like handling user input or displaying images have to be handled explicitly by the code, instead of being left to a browser.
As a result, your cross-platform Kivy application must be built from scratch. All the code in your Flask project is incompatible and will serve as nothing more than a blueprint for the app.
Obviously, this translates to an extended development time (and expense), since you are in essence creating a new app, not converting an existing one.
The API Method
If discarding your Flask web app to create a new one does not appeal to you, and you want to target more than just Android, then this method might be for you.
For the uninitiated, a web-based API exposes the functionality of a server (in this case, your Flask backend) to be easily used by offline applications with simple HTTP requests.
The advantage of this approach is that it preserves most of your Flask project’s internal logic, while also allowing you to target mobile platforms like iOS and Android.
That being said, it is far from a pain-free process. Not only do you need to build frontend apps from scratch, but also refactor your Flask code to turn it into a machine-accessible API (unless your app uses the API model already).
Even with a dedicated team working on each aspect, you are easily looking at a couple of months of development at the very least.
But that is still faster than building a full-fledged app from scratch in Kivy, and more useful than an Android-only apk obtained from python-for-android.
Isn’t There a Better Way to Convert a Flask Web App to iOS and Android Apps?
All of the above methods will take several months of development, and easily run into the five figures. You’ll need to either manage a challenging project yourself, including hiring development talent, or outsource the whole thing to an agency which will add even more expense.
This is why we truly believe that a straight up conversion process with your existing Flask app running as mobile apps is a better option for 90% of businesses - especially small and medium sized ones.
Our platform, MobiLoud, can convert your Flask web app into mobile apps in under two weeks - for 10% of the cost. Our team also help you out every step of the way, handle the submission and publishing process, and take care of all updates and maintenance for the lifetime of the apps.
MobiLoud is a better route to convert your Flask app into mobile apps for iOS and Android.
Let’s take a look at MobiLoud in more detail.
Convert Your Flask App to Mobile Apps for iOS and Android with MobiLoud
MobiLoud is our platform, developed over 10 years and over 2000 apps, that lets you convert any website or web app into native iOS and Android apps. It works great with Flask web apps too.
We do all the work for you - from building and configuring app-specific settings and features to coding the backend that makes your Flask app run as a mobile app.
You’ll test the apps when they’re ready, and our team will also dedicate several hours to testing and making sure the app’s performance is optimal. After everyone is satisfied, we’ll prepare and submit your apps to Apple and Google for publishing.
You’ll be ready to launch in under two weeks with minimal stress, for a bootstrap-friendly investment.
Let’s go a little deeper.
How Does MobiLoud Work?
MobiLoud is the perfect ‘wrapper’ for converting a Flask app into mobile apps. We realised in the beginning that just taking a webview and running a website or web app inside isn’t enough to ensure a great UX - it’s OK but the details are missing.
MobiLoud isn’t just a wrapper. We built on the webview SDKs provided by iOS and Android and optimized them to ensure fast performance along with adding all the native elements that make apps so engaging. We added native navigation, a native tab menu, native animations, loading indicators, splash screens, and 30+ more features so you can get as close as possible to a full native app experience.
MobiLoud allows you to take your web app and convert it into native mobile apps that function exactly the same, without worrying about compromising on UX. Because it is a conversion process, you get to keep what already works. All your web app’s features, functionality and content will work exactly the same in the apps - so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Just take your winning formula from the web and it will work great on the App Stores too.
There’s also no need for you or your team to touch a line of code, and nothing to rebuild or recreate.
The final result is your Flask app, in a form that can be published on the App Stores, is installable on users’ phones, and behaves and looks like a native mobile app. This gives you all the key benefits of native mobile apps with a fraction of the expense and hassle.
Save Time, Effort and Resources
Even with the easier methods we went over earlier, the work would take months and cost $25,000 - at least - to get a first version ready.
Managing the project would also be very challenging unless you have a lot of experience and time to spare. The work would also never really be done - new versions, new features, updates and routine maintenance would eat up tens of thousands of dollars over the first few years.
With these factors in mind - the decision to build mobile apps becomes a tough one.
MobiLoud makes the decision to build apps a whole lot easier. We can get you apps just as good launched for 10% of the cost, in under two weeks. We also handle all ongoing updates and maintenance as part of our service - so there are no unexpected surprises.
No technical skills are necessary, you can control everything that you need to from our simple dashboard. The iOS and Android apps will update with any new feature you add to your Flask app - so there’s nothing to add to your workflow!
The savings in time and money will be so great that they can change your business. Take them and reinvest in improving your core web app and acquiring new users - the apps will run themselves!
Push Notifications for iOS and Android
With a 5x higher open rate compared to email and unrestricted reach unlike through social media, push notifications are the most effective engagement channel. Over time, your app audience will start to reflect your most loyal, engaged fans - and push notifications give you a direct line to them.
MobiLoud integrates with OneSignal, so you can send unlimited notifications - automatically or manually - whenever you see fit.
MobiLoud provides a whole control panel for your users to manage their preferences for push notifications, so they can easily choose what they’ll be notified for. All you need to do is attach a tag to match what’s available in their options.
The MobiLoud native “Alerts” screen also allows users to review all the notifications they’ve received. You can configure this to load a built-in list of notifications or to load an internal notifications screen in your web app.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage and re-enage users with timely notifications and drive traffic.
Packed with All The Features You Need
Native animations, splash screen, loading spinners, native tab menus, internal or external screens, everything can be controlled from MobiLoud’s simple configuration dashboard.
If you are looking for something specific we can almost definitely help. We’ve built thousands of apps with MobiLoud and have seen almost every edge case possible. Chances are we have a solution for the issue or request you have in mind.
We Are with You Every Step of the Way
When you convert your Flask web app to mobile apps with MobiLoud, the whole MobiLoud team is here to support you through the whole process.
The partnership starts with a demo call in which we go over your vision for the apps and answer all your questions. After you’ve used MobiLoud to create the apps, or we’ve created them for you, we test them thoroughly and take it from there.
Getting accepted on the App Stores, especially by Apple, can be tricky. If you used any of the previously discussed methods you could find yourself struggling to get approval and needing to go back to development for painful rewrites.
With MobiLoud though this is no issue. We know the process inside out and can guarantee approval after we’ve completely taken care of testing, compiling and submitting your mobile apps. In the highly unlikely event that we can’t get them published - we refund you 100%.
When the apps are launched it is cause for celebration, but our support doesn’t end there.
Our team will also handle all ongoing technical maintenance and new version updates for your apps. We are your mobile partners, handle anything that crops up fast and effectively, and are never more than a phone call or email away.
You won’t have to worry about security issues, new iOS versions or phones coming on the market, we’ll take care of all of that for you and update your mobile apps as needed.
Remember that these are your own apps, you’ll be listed as the developer on the stores and every account used will be your own - you just invite us as your developer. So don’t worry about being able to replace the apps or being stuck with a provider - you’re in control and can switch away any time.
Convert Your Flask Web App to Mobile Apps Today!
Some ways are easier than others, but you aren’t too short of options to think about.
MobiLoud is undoubtedly the most straightforward and efficient route - especially if you want apps that do the same thing that your web app does, which makes sense in 90% of cases.
If you want to learn more about MobiLoud, you can read about it here, or why not check out some stories from our customers about how they grew their businesses with MobiLoud apps?
When you are ready to take your brand to the App Stores just book a quick demo call with one of our app experts. They’ll take you through the entire process and tell you everything you need to know to get high quality apps up and running in record time!
Book a call today and lets convert your Flask app to winning mobile apps