Making a good iOS app isn't easy (just ask our own Mike Schramm), and frankly most non-programmer professionals don't have the time or energy to learn their way through XCode and take control of their own "face" on the App Store. That's too bad, really; more and more, a brand's first impression is formed not by its advertising or its website but by the mobile experience it delivers. Getting a truly "pro" result can cost thousands of dollars and countless hours of work.
While there are rapid development platforms for iOS -- some very capable, and some that want to take their own slice of the sales revenue -- most RSS-driven tools are not so capable and the results are not so attractive. (I really can't think of a more unfortunate name for an authoring platform, but what do I know.) There's definitely room for a sophisticated, web-based tool that provides simplicity on the back end for novice app authors while delivering a slick, fully native experience on the App Store.
Kleverbeast, which launches into a public beta today, may just be the standard bearer for app creation 2.0. The service, which starts at US$29/month for core features, lets authors work in a web-based CMS as they build out their apps. Once every bit of content is ready, navigation is set and all is approved, the Kleverbeast servers compile a full .ipa iOS package that's ready for the App Store.
With a $99 Apple developer account, you can publish under your own shingle; if you don't have or don't want ADC access, Kleverbeast will do the uploading for you. You can also target Android tablets via Google Play, but not iPhones or Android phones, yet.
Granted, if you build a Kleverbeast app you're working in a template, but the templates are gorgeous and flexible (think Squarespace, not PowerPoint). During the beta, there are several "looks" available, with more on the way; the initial set focuses on creative professionals like artists or photographers, galleries or small retail, and a few other verticals. Alpha users like photographer Lawrence Schiller have already begun pushing the Kleverbeast platform to the max; you can see the results on the App Store now in his Marilyn and America in the '60s app, and in Chinese artist Zeng Fanzhi's gallery app.
Here's a quick overview of the authoring process:
The service includes a free KB Viewer app, which allows you to preview your app on a live iPad before pushing the Publish button. Kleverbeast is providing a seven-day free trial during the beta period, with full access to all the platform tools.
Subscription plans are $29/month or $199/month depending on your desired feature mix, and enterprise plans are available. Even if your subscription expires, your app is yours and remains in the store; you would have to re-up your subscription to add or change elements in your app, however.