Now that we’ve entered the second round of the App Maker Showdown series, we’re going to spend less time discussing why mobile app development is important and the benefits of DIY app makers. If you’re new to this series, be sure to check one of the previous Showdowns to get a feel for how we judge apps and why we’ve chosen the criteria or “Rounds” that we have.

Both App Makers on the fight card for today, Swiftic and BuildFire, lost their first round matchup. In Swiftic’s case, they lost by a small margin to an app builder that simply had a unique approach to building small business apps. BuildFire, on the other hand, got clobbered in their matchup to Appy Pie. It will be interesting to see if BuildFire has improved at all since the last Showdown and whether those improvements (if any) are enough to topple Swiftic.


Round 1: Ease of Use

It wasn’t all that triumphant of a win. That said, Swiftic is out-of-the-box accessible. Its only roadblock, regarding ease of use, is the more features you add, the longer it takes to scroll to find the one you would like to edit. Despite this, Swiftic makes up for it with its pricing structure. The platform is free to use until you decide to publish an app. Unlike traditional pay structures, where more features are accessed by paying for a more expensive price plan, Swiftic gives users full access to all of their available features and has only one price, so there’s no need to scale your investment.

BuildFire has a click-and-edit navigation system in their app building platform. This makes it simple to begin building an app and doesn’t require the user to have any prior knowledge of app development, coding or programming. Their system guides the user through each step by asking questions about the purpose of the app and then suggests themes and features that cater towards the unique objectives or business behind the app. During app construction, the user adds new elements by choosing between two categories: widgets and appearance. Appearance is fairly self-explanatory and includes anything that changes how the app looks. Widgets, on the other hand, are any feature or element that the user wants to add. Even a simple block of text is considered a widget.

Round Winner: BuildFire – While Swiftic is relatively easy to use and has an excellent pricing structure, BuildFire’s click-and-edit platform, appearance and widgets categories and helpful suggestions work in tandem to make app building an absolute breeze.


Round 2: Design and Flexibility

When it comes to design and flexibility options, Swiftic allows you to choose a category or industry that best matches your business and the type of app you are trying to build. Once you’ve selected your app type, they offer a couple templates or themes to choose from. In theory, it may seem like they have a lot of design and appearance options, but once you’ve selected your business or industry, the number of available options shrinks dramatically. This means that any competitors using Swiftic to build their apps as well will likely start with the same initial theme and may create an app very similar to yours. Additionally, Swiftic doesn’t allow the user to do much editing to the layout of his or her apps, aside from uploading a background image.

BuildFire uses a similar system to Swiftic’s. They have 15 different templates, and each one is geared towards a different type of app or business. Again, this may seem thorough and ensures that there is an app-type that fits your unique business’ needs, but it is very limiting. For example, two restaurant owners using BuildFire to make an app will both, most likely, choose the restaurant template, which means their apps both would share the same layout and feel to them. This requires substantial tinkering and creative customizing to take that foundation and make it look exceptionally unique and stand out amongst the competitors’ apps.

Round Winner: Swiftic – Both of these builders have the same problem when it comes to design and flexibility. BuildFire only offers one template for each type of business, while Swiftic provides a choice between a couple of models, giving them the edge in this round.


Round 3: Social Media Integration

As we’ve discussed in previous showdowns, many app builders choose to focus on social media integration options that cater to the major players, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Swiftic is no different. That said, they do have some other interesting options, like YouTube for video-based content or Booker and Setster for reservation and scheduling integration. Swiftic also allows users to incorporate an RSS feed that connects to your website’s blog or news feed and gives app users an up-to-the-minute stream of relevant updates and the like.

BuildFire also taps into all of the major social media networks; a business’ social media pages can be linked right into their BuildFire app. This app builder enhances their social media integration options by implementing SmartPush Technology. This feature lets you segment your app users into separate groups. These groups can be arranged based on their preferences, demographics or other specifications. Users can then interact with others inside their group, including posting pictures, commenting on posts by other members and more. Essentially, it creates your own social media network within your app. It also opens up another channel for a brand to interact with its customers.

Round Winner: BuildFire – The SmartPush Technology of BuildFire gives it a significant edge over Swiftic’s average social media integration offerings. Although, the RSS feed of Swiftic is worthy of some praise.


Round 4: Features

When it comes to a mobile-based loyalty program feature, very few app makers can top Swiftic. They offer multiple different types of loyalty programs, from a frequent shopper membership club to digital punch cards and more. Each of these programs has its own set of options and allow for further customization for a truly unique rewards system. When it comes to E-Commerce options, Swiftic also hits a home run. You can integrate an existing shop interface from Etsy, Shopify, WooCommerce and many of the other major shopping platforms. You can also create your own, new shopping interface through the app and have customers make payments through PayPal. Have new deals or savings opportunities? You can notify your customers with unlimited push notifications or with Swiftic’s newsletter tool. Unfortunately, this tool doesn’t allow an app builder to connect an existing newsletter created through a service like MailChimp or others.

BuildFire has made a continuous effort to improve the number of features their app building platform offers. They have an impressive loyalty program, similar to Swiftic’s, which lets the app developer choose how users acquire points, what rewards those points can be redeemed for and more. One feature that BuildFire delivers on very well is the ability to live stream audio and video content right in the app’s interface. This creates the opportunity to broadcast events or a podcast live through your mobile app. You could even notify users when there is a new live stream event taking place. Alternatively, the auto-sync option can allow a user to update their calendar automatically with the day/time of upcoming events. For E-Commerce, BuildFire can connect to an existing Shopify or WooCommerce account.

Round Winner: Even – regarding features, the winner of this round is hard to determine. They both offer a superb selection, and it ultimately comes down to which features are most important towards achieving the unique goals of your mobile experience. If loyalty program options are appealing, Swiftic is the answer, but if you plan to live stream audio or video content, BuildFire is your solution.


Round 5: Support

Swiftic’s best support feature is its “Knowledge Base,” which has some resources that app makers can access and use to improve their mobile apps. These resources include a thorough FAQ section, video tutorials and helpful guides and can all be used to navigate any of the complex obstacles that may arise during the app building process. In terms of live support, on the other hand, Swiftic falters. Their only form of support is via email, which is one of the slowest means of customer service help. Some users cite that it took a day or longer to receive a reply. If you have a crisis on your hand, like your app is crashing or users are having login issues, 24 hours is far too long to wait for help and support.

Similarly, BuildFire also has poor live support that is limited to email service only. To make matters worse, the support is only accessible during regular business hours (specifically, 9 am to 5 pm PST). If your app has an issue on the weekend, it could be more than two days before you get the help and support you need. Despite this poor live support, BuildFire does have a library of videos and tips on various topics. This presents the opportunity to potentially solve your issue on your own.

Round Winner: Swiftic – While neither of these app builders has exceptional live support, BuildFire’s lack of support on the weekends has the potential to be very damaging if you have a crisis on your hands.


And the Winner Is…

By rounds, these two app makers are even. Swiftic managed to secure the Support and Design and Flexibility rounds, while BuildFire came away with victories in Ease of Use and Social Media Integration. The two development platforms tied in the Features category. Even though they are tied by round wins, we always decide on a winner. After all, no one likes a draw.

With that being said, the winner of this App Maker Showdown has to be BuildFire. Both rounds that Swiftic managed to win were very close. Even though they won these rounds, Swiftic’s support and design options are honestly not very exceptional.

BuildFire, on the other hand, won both their rounds by a good margin. Their click-and-edit navigation and SmartPush Technology gave them a huge leg up on Swiftic in their winning rounds.

Thus, while they are tied by round wins, BuildFire simply had bigger wins in their rounds, whereas Swiftic just barely got their W’s. This brings BuildFire’s record to an even 1-1, while Swiftic continues to struggle and falls to 0-2.