Thunkable’s DIY app builder is now cross-platform

Drag-and-drop app builder startup Thunkable has launched a cross-platform version of its product that lets users create apps that work across Android and iOS.

The app builder is targeted at non-coders and first time developers, with the bold claim that the platform lets “anyone create beautiful and powerful apps”.

Users can choose from a variety of features and integrations for their apps, including Google Maps, Microsoft Image Recognition, payments through Stripe, and other APIs — and its capabilities like these that underpin Thunkable’s claim their app builder platform is superior to rival builders which only let people create apps using templates with limited capabilities. 

We covered the YC-backed startup back in 2016 when it had just launched its Android app builder platform, after forking the original interface the team had helped developed at MIT.

The team went on to secure additional seed funding after graduating YC, and now say they’ve raised a total of $3.3M — from Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, SV Angel, Y Combinator, PJC, Mandra Capital, Joe Montana’s Liquid 2 Ventures and ZhenFund. 

An iOS beta platform was also subsequently launched, in September 2017 — mainly, according to co-founder and CEO Arun Saigal, to get feedback on what would become the new cross-platform version — which they’re calling Thunkable ✕. (To be clear, that’s not a ‘X’ but a special character intended to denote the cross-platform element.) The prior Android app builder is still available — but now called Thunkable Classic Android.

“Traditionally, building an app requires hundreds of thousands of dollars and two teams of engineers — one team for Android and one team for iOS. But now, non-coders can easily build their own apps on one platform, and these apps will work on Android devices, iPhones and iPads,” says Saigal in a statement. 

When we spoke to Thunkable in 2016 their app builder had around 50,000 users. It’s now up to more than 500,000, with more than 1M apps built using its drag-and-drop blocks style interface — apps which have a combined total of 16M monthly active users, across 195 countries.

“Thunkable ✕ is very robust in terms of ecosystem compatibility,” Saigal tells us. “All apps built on Thunkable ✕ are packaged natively for both Android and iOS operating systems, and are compatible with all Android and iOS devices.

“Specifically, Thunkable is compatible with all Android devices that are running Android 4.1 and above and all iOS devices that are running iOS 8.0 and above.”

“Our users have always built a wide variety of apps,” he adds. “On iOS, both the usage and types of apps have been similar to what we have seen on Android.”

Examples of apps built using the DIY platform which the team flags up include a dice throwing app (called Dice), built by two teenagers from Oregon which has gained more than 500,000 downloads on the Google Play Store; an app built by a user in India to help people study for the Indian Railway Exams — which has more than 1M MAUs; and an app created by a teacher from Iraq to help students learn how to speak English, which they say has been downloaded “thousands” of times and is being used throughout Iraq. 

Saigal says they’re seeing “major opportunities for first-time app developers all over the world” — emphasizing what he describes as “tremendous growth” in both emerging and developed markets.

He also says the “vast majority” of developers who come to Thunkable are still looking to build native mobile apps — playing down the notion that interest might be shifting away from building native apps to developing apps for the big tech platforms that are increasingly boxing up mobile users’ attention.