Tutorial: Creating an iPhone App for Your Church

appmakr-logo

AppMakr is probably among the first of many sites where you can create and publish an iPhone app for your church, ministry, organization or even simply your own personal blog.

Put simply, the AppMakr website takes RSS feeds and presents them as part of your own fully customizable app. Not convinced? Here’s a list of Celebrity A-Listers who believe it’s the bomb:

Convinced? Let’s get started:

An Overview:

First, AppMakr asks you to input a search term, or url for a website or feed. It then searches for feeds and images to put together to make your app, providing you with a sample version as a starting point which can then be customized.

Customize & Preview

The site takes you through five steps to produce the finished, personalized app – and provides a functioning preview (one of AppMakr’s really neat features) which you can navigate through as the app evolves (here’s my attempt at an 8BIT app as an example):

Images can be picked out by searching for them on the web, by inputting a URL or by uploading images stored locally.

Choose and Order Your Own Feeds

Next the site asks you to choose the tabs which will form the main functionality of your app – displaying the latest posts from the feeds you choose.

It is slightly annoying that you can’t create a static page as one of the tabs – for instance as an “about” tab or with other information, but this is not a serious issue.

The site can display twitter feeds as well but the display can be a bit wonky at times.

Each tweet displays twice – both as the “post” title and as the actual body of the post. And you’ll need to look up your Twitter account and find the RSS feed that goes with it – you can’t just input your user name.

Monetize

You probably won’t want to use this feature if you’re creating an app for a church or non-profit, but you can choose from several different options to add adverts to your app and generate some income.

Final Preview & Publish

AppMakr allows you to share your finished app design, making it public prior to publishing it. This way you can share it with friends and get opinions or approval before the finished product is sent to Apple for approval.

AppMakr offers two options for publishing your app – either AppMakr will send it for approval using their own developer account or you can publish the app by applying for your own Apple developer credentials. In the first case, AppMakr will appear in iTunes as the publisher – and they’ll put a small version of their own logo at the bottom of the app’s splash screen.

You can preview the trial app I created here. Here’s the final version:

Cost:

This is the big downside if your church doesn’t have a huge media budget: Publishing your app through AppMakr will cost you $199, and using your own Developer Account will cost $499.

We’ve managed to ease this a little by getting ChurchDrop readers a discount.

Exclusive Coupon Code!

Use the coupon code: CHURCHDROP to get $50 off the final product.

The Bottom Line:

So, what’s our take? Here’s some pros/cons:

Positives:

  • It makes developing your own app quick and easy, and requires no programming expertise to use.
  • AppMakr allows you to fully customize your app – using your own icons, splash screen, and header image.
  • You get a functional preview as you go along so you can see exactly what the finished product will look like and how it will function.
  • The end result looks pretty neat – and can be shared with the world for feedback before publishing.

Negatives:

  • The price – although this seems like a small price to have your own app developed. Going to a developer and paying extra would allow for complete customization – or you could develop a mobile site for free.
  • Only RSS feeds can be used as tabs – no ability to have a preferences tab or static text.
  • Twitter feeds don’t format quite right.

You can see  my final verdict and summary below.

Your Turn, Thoughts?

Anyone thinking about using AppMakr?

Would you pay $199 (or$149) for an iPhone app? Would you suggest this option to churches or organizations you work with?

If you decide to give it a go and try creating your own app – post a link in the comments so we can check it out!

Eric Dye

I am an entrepreneur and human rights advocate. I spend most of my time as writer and editor for ChurchMag and Finding Justice, but you can also find me working on Live Theme and for the International Human Rights Group. All while enjoying my family and sipping espresso in Italy.

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  1. says

    This is great. I’m wondering (hoping actually I as I like diversity) if this will take off on the Google/Android side as well. Any idea how much a developer license costs with them?

    • says

      iSites began also submitting to Android this week. We can set you up with a separate developer account for $499.

      The more affordable option goes through the GENWI “seller” account for $25. (iSites is also mentioned at the bottom of the ‘about us’ page) $99/year is a popular option for gaining control over your ad space. Churches often want no ads or the ability to promote organizations of their choosing.

    • says

      Hi Jay,

      I’m pretty sure the developer account to publish your own android app is free – of course you then need to have the programming expertise within your team to develop it.

      (Someone correct me if I’m wrong)

  2. says

    We offer a similar appmaking technology that also serves Android. Our system offers easier revisions over time which may prove a more affordable choice in the long term. We’ve successfully made apps for many church groups. http://iSites.us The only downside is that we have temporarily suspended payments as we catch up with demand. You can start your design and If your app is of the highest quality will offer you an expedited path.

    If you search blogs you’ll see many of the same “Celebrity A-list” endorsements.

  3. NickShoe says

    I’d suggest it to our church. I think one of the keys here is how is the ministry you have in mind already using the FREE mobile options out there- Facebook, Twitter and a mobile website?

    I agree that the price, even with the sweet hook-up, may not be for everyone. Again- how well have free been used? I would say that if it hasn’t been maximized, this step may just be shiny; after-all, the point of developing an app is to get your people to use it.

    Great post James!

    • says

      Hey Nick – thanks!

      Yep, I really think improved Twitter capability and integration with Facebook would drastically improve the package.

      But it’s a good option for distributing news and information.

      Also – have you seen YouVersion Live? I wish my church had enough iPhone users to really give this a go…

    • says

      Yep no flash still…

      The best solution for an organisation looking to avoid the cost of an actual app is a really good mobile site… the bonus of doing that is that its completely free – and much easier to update and customise and change etc.

      • says

        Hey James,

        We run a church CMS (www.citygates.org) and just this month rolled out “a really good mobile site” for all the churches in the system. We’re still working with user feedback to get the best possible look and feel, but so far response has been great. For instance, folks don’t see a difference between an ‘Web App’ and ‘AppStore App’. The big bonus is that the App pulls from the website content, so there is no need to update two systems.

        Our plans start at $40/month, which is probably too steep to justify just the mobile site. However, the mobile site is meant to be ‘frosting’ on the CMS ‘cake’.

        If you’re ever looking for church-tech related interview or guest blogger for your blog, shoot me an email!

        -Nathan

  4. says


    i’m building an app for our church through appmakr right now. working out a few bugs with the HTML tab formatting. will post link when it’s done.

    thanks for this article.

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