A little more than two years ago my business partner Ralph Tavarez and I quit our day jobs because of one fundamental belief, we believed that anyone was capable of building a great mobile app. That’s me on the right in the picture, standing in downtown Guatemala City, and on the left is Ralph in his green Evernote shirt.
Our original goal was to transform today’s complex app development processes into an enjoyable, simple to use, fun experience so we started with the craziest idea possible: What if we could build apps using only our voice? You would say things like “add button,” and “connect button to camera,” and the app would quickly build and publish an app for you by assembling the desired components.
As we conceived it then, Rheti (from “rhetorical app making”) would provide a simple, easy to use solution for smartphone owners who want to build apps, but don’t want to spend years learning to program. The implications of a solution like this are pretty staggering: it would empower people across the world to create and use apps in a lot of new and exciting ways. People’s lives would change: barriers of entry for programming would be removed, communication would be easier, and our phones would be intrinsically more useful.
What surprised us in building the original version of Rheti was the number of voice commands that Rheti would have to recognize to make this sort of thing possible. Unfortunately though, we found out that app building could not be as simple as “add button” and “connect button to camera”. That process was to simple to build truly great mobile apps which tend to be more complex.
Our new goal became to create an app building app that harnessed the power of this complexity, but without relying on voice recognition. We wanted an app builder that would be easy to use, mobile (so the majority of people around the world could use it), and yet powerful enough to meet a lot of different needs.
The next logical step was to create a touch command interface. And so, we set to work on creating the new and improved version of Rheti. We wanted to make app building easy and intuitive by making it play into our ability to shape matter with our hands. Building apps might be complex on paper, but when you give people a visual tool it becomes quite easy.
Here is a basic description of how building apps with Rheti works:
-Insert app components into an app by pressing anywhere on the screen
-Edit app components by pressing on them again
-Connect app components together by choosing from a marketplace of pre made components
-Publish and live preview instantly
This way of building apps is very simple, but it is also very powerful. Anyone can do it, but it doesn’t sacrifice anything in the way of functionality. Rheti lets you play with app components however you want, and put them together just like a programmer would. Instead of spending months writing code, you’re snapping components together in minutes.
If you want a button that turns the camera on when you’re moving a certain speed, for example, you can tie these events and components together very easily. If you want a button to turn the lights on in your house when you’re at a certain location at a certain time, you can tie these components together.
The possibilities are pretty endless. If you want an app for your wedding with maps, schedules, RSVP lists, guest lists, photo albums, and more, all updatable in real time, Rheti is for you. If you want an app for your business with a menu, inventory list, and augmented reality, Rheti can do this. If you just want an app that simplifies your routine in your car, Rheti is the perfect solution.
We envision a world where anyone can build an amazing mobile app, and not just a cookie cutter app. In this world doctors will quickly build personalized apps for patients, and school teachers will do the same for students. If you want to use Rheti to improve the quality of peoples’ lives, Rheti was designed with you in mind.
I’d like to end this post with another list, describing a few of the things that make Rheti great:
-Rheti is the first non-programmer app builder to build actual native apps for Android. If you search for “app builder” on Google, you’ll find a bunch of HTML5 app builders. Rheti is a completely different, much more powerful technology.
-Rheti is completely mobile, which we think has big implications. I grew up in Guatemala, which is a developing country, and more people have smartphones there than what we think of as actual computers. Making an app builder mobile empowers people without access to a computer, and it also make it much much more convenient for everyone else.
-Rheti is free. The current HTML5 app builders charge monthly hosting fees, but we decided that this is not a good business model. We’ll ask for small, one-time purchases of some premium app components and themes, but these are completely optional. You can also make money with Rheti if you want by selling your app, themes or features (if you’re a developer) over the marketplace.
Right now Rheti is not completely finished. There will be some bumps along the way, and we don’t have nearly all of the features that we would like. But for you technology adventurers out there, I think you’ll find this early version of Rheti is something you’ll use and love. As we open Rheti up to more developers and users, it will let you, your community, and your phone do more together.
We’d be very grateful for any kind of feedback. Our team would love to know if you have any ideas or suggestions.
Thanks for reading,