It’s becoming increasingly common for the web’s many publishers to offer their own native smartphone applications in addition to mobile-optimized web versions. But few web publishers have the resources to actually develop an app for themselves. iSites is a new service launching today that allows publishers to quickly build applications for the iPhone, allowing them to create a customized and branded app in as little as 10 minutes. And soon, you’ll be able to use the platform to simultaneously publish Android apps from the same platform.
Of course, you’re not going to be able to build out a particularly complex app in ten minutes, but if your primary goal is to syndicate your stories to users, with basic features like browsing by categories and the ability to ‘favorite’ stories, this will suit you just fine. Building an app is straightforward: first, you tell iSites which RSS feed it should include in your app. You can also include feeds from a dozen popular web services like Twitter, Blogger, Flickr, and WordPress. Once you’ve figured out what content you’re going to include, you can tweak the color scheme of the app, add your own logos, and attach an icon and a description to include in the App Store.
Once all that’s done, you submit the app and wait for it to appear on the App Store (iSites handles the submission process). Once the app is live, you can log in to your iSites account to view analytics on the app’s performance, including which content in your app is the most popular.
One of the nice things about iSites is that even after you’ve deployed your app, you can modify the various feeds the app is pulling content from. And soon, you’ll be able to deploy apps to both the App Store and Android Market (the Android version is currently in Beta testing, with release planned in the next few weeks). Changes made using iSites (like your app’s layout or feeds) will be reflected on both your iPhone and Android apps.
iSites costs users a flat fee of $25 for the standard version, or $99 a year if you want to be able to include your own AdMob ads. The service is currently being used by a number of clients, including university papers like The Daily Californian, The Stanford Daily, and The State Press.
iSites certainly isn’t the first player to offer a solution for helping publishers build mobile apps — we’ve been seeing similar tools for nearly as long as the App Store has been around, with competitors including AppMakr, Mobile Roadie, and plenty more.