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Appsbar gives small businesses a simple (and free!) template for app building

If you've ever wanted to build a mobile app for your small business but have been intimidated by the cost of hiring developers, Appsbar has a proposition for you.

Appsbar, a startup launched last year in Deerfield Beach, Fla., has become a go-to destination for small companies with relatively little tech experience that want to create their own mobile applications. The company announced last month that it had signed up more than 90,000 users to its services and that its users had recorded more than 9 million downloads from all the apps built using Appsbar.

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Users start by signing up for an account on appsbar.com and can then start designing their applications on their PC, Mac or tablet. The service then provides users with a number of templates and code libraries they can use to set up their app's basic layout and provide users with key information about their business, including directions, prices and regularly updated sales notices and event reminders. Appsbar also makes sure that each app developed on its platform supports HTML5 so their apps can be shared across different platforms and websites.

Heather Caunt-Nulton, a Boston-based henna artist who created a mobile app using Appsbar, says that the app is particularly intuitive for users who aren't very experienced with computer programming language. She says that using Appsbar saved her a lot of time since she was originally planning to trying learning app development on her own.

"I do some basic HTML coding to make my own website and I have a slight amount of experience in C++ code, but I'm not a programmer," she says. "I was looking into what it would take to learn [mobile app development] and it was possible, but it would have been a lot more work than it would have been worth."

Caunt-Nulton says that she wishes the program gave her more flexibility for how to lay out her application's main menu, but adds that "for a free service, it's good for what it is."

Appsbar user Rohry Flood, meanwhile, said that he used the platform to create apps both for his own band and for his friend's restaurant, the Big Owl Tiki Bar. He says that it took him around three hours to develop his first mobile application and then took just 90 minutes to develop his second. His band's app features calendars on upcoming shows, member bios and MP3s, while the Big Owl's app features a menu that updates automatically whenever the restaurant updates the data on its website. He says that the platform has been great for putting apps on the Google Play app store but that he hasn't had any success so far getting on Apple's App Store despite the fact that his apps have been live for around a year.

Appsbar founder Scott Hirsch says that his No. 1 goal with starting the company was to provide businesses with a simple and free way to create relatively complex applications that add value to their customers and aren't simply mobile replications of a company website.

"Our mission has been to give them value in what we see is the highest technological medium out there," he says. "If you're not going to get into mobility, you're going to die."

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