Nine Tools for Building Your Own Mobile App

As a small-business owner, if you decide there's good reason to develop your own mobile app, there are several ways to do it.

But before you dive into the deep end of the app development pool, familiarize yourself with a number of the more advanced mobile development options. Here's some background on each platform:

Android: You can create apps using Java for Android by downloading its free software development kit. The kit comes with samples, source code, developer tools and emulators for testing your app. Android even provides how-to videos, technical articles and instructions on how to develop apps, just in case you're feeling overwhelmed. A one-time $25 developer registration fee is needed to distribute apps in the Android marketplace, now known as Google Play.

Apple iOS: If you want to create an iPhone app using the iOS platform, you'll need to shell out about $99, which isn't much considering the elegance and functionality of the program. The iOS Developer Center has a wide selection of tools, tips, debugging tests and guides for creating apps for just about any purpose.

BlackBerry: The BlackBerry platform supports several ways to develop applications, mobile websites, themes and even widgets. To distribute apps on BlackBerry's App World, you have to pay a fee for every 10 apps you submit for approval. BlackBerry often offers promotions to waive this fee.

Windows: The Windows platform may not be the world's largest, but its user interface is easy to use. The Windows Phone development program provides valuable documentation on the best practices for marketing your app. Plus, you don't have to worry about your app or game idea getting rejected after you've spent time creating it. Windows provides clear documentation on what will fly and what won't with its approval process.

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