Running a small business is challenging, not only when it comes to designing and managing the best product or service, but also when it comes to presenting your creation to the public. When compared to large companies, there’s certainly less help available for critical processes like establishing a mobile online presence.
According to research conducted by the Endurance International Group, small businesses in the US are currently vastly underserved in that arena — 71 percent of small businesses queried said they would benefit from having a mobile app, but 78 percent did not have one. Endurance is stepping in to rectify that disparity with an auto app builder called Instant AppMachine, a collaboration between Endurance and The Netherlands-based tech developer AppMachine, and announced it in a bit of a party atmosphere at SXSW.
Something of a cross between a search engine, aggregator and template, Instant AppMachine is designed to automatically build an online mobile app for your company, be it local grocery store, clothing shop or rock band. It gathers information from the Web to create an HTML5 app that will appear in Google search results. No coding is needed, similar to easy authoring apps like Adse.me or Wix.
“AppMachine is what small businesses need to build a mobile online presence,” Dan Handy, from Endurance, told TNW. “They need to look good on the phone and tablet and Instant AppMachine can build a native app that automatically aggregates the content and chooses images that look good for the format.”
The app actually builds an HTML 5 page, says Handy, but it looks like an app. It lets you add text blocks and has a widget-like building block interface that makes choosing content easier.
AppMachine does more than just scrape information. In offering a host of elements like icons and navigation styles, the app provides a choice of which ones will look best, via the now-popular swiping technology. But you don’t have to take AppMachine’s suggestions. You can replace any elements that AppMachine finds with your own text and art.
When you’re happy with the app, it will generate a QR code that you can share with your audience over social networks.
“For a business owner that needs something quick, it will take about 10 minutes to throw a mobile site together,” Handy said.
Instant AppMachine is now in a limited beta, and is expected to launch this summer.