How to make an Android app that links to a website?

Dec 23, 2020 | Mobile App Builder, WooCommerce App Builder, WordPress App Builder

Android is the premier mobile operating system in the world. This is one of the main reasons businesses invest time and capital into Android app development. There is no other platform that promises as wide a reach as Android.

The main challenge here is the actual app development process. Making an app is fairly expensive and extremely complicated. Companies generally have to make a choice between hiring a team of developers or outsourcing the job to a development agency. Tools like AppMySite however have made it easier to create an app for Android and iOS with DIY-app making options.

Not all businesses need a mobile app that has phenomenal features and functions. Some only require a simple app that conveys necessary information to the end user.

In fact, many small businesses with a great website look for ways to create an Android app that simply displays a mobile version of a webpage. This represents one of the more common demands in the app development space.

How does displaying a webpage inside an app help?

Many companies with mobile apps loaded with top features would naturally wonder the point of simply displaying a webpage inside an app. After all, this is nothing but the equivalent of copying the mobile version of a website in an app environment.

There are many reasons why some businesses choose to take this path. Firstly, this takes away the pressure of getting the mobile app design right. The app only displays a specific webpage and thus businesses only have to work on their website design. Developing such an app is also simpler compared to spending night and day working on an app’s features and functions.

Mobile apps that display a webpage are also known as web view apps. Thus, you need to create a web view app to display a website link inside an app.

Web view apps – An Introduction

Let’s understand native apps first to get a better idea of web view apps. A native mobile app is essentially software for your smartphone. It is designed to work in a mobile environment and leverage the resources of the device.

As an exercise, visit Amazon’s mobile website and then take a look at the home screen of its app. You will find key differences in design and performance in both. The app will be much more responsive and aesthetically optimal because it is designed to operate on a mobile device. The website on the other hand is just a responsive version of the website.

Web view apps are essentially customized versions of web browsers that only contain the main rendering engine. Their performance and design is dependent on the website.

So how can you make an Android app that links to your website? You essentially have to build a web view app.

Also read:  Native app vs WebView app – Which Path Offers Better Odds of Success?

Creating webview apps with AppMySite – A guide

AppMySite is a free app maker that enables WordPress users to create both native and web view apps without writing code. If you want to create an Android app that points to a URL and you don’t know how to code, AppMySite is a great place to start. You can get your own web view app up and running within minutes.

The following steps explain the process of creating a webview app with AppMySite.

Step #1 – Setup appearance

The first step is setting up the appearance of your web view app. You need to create the basic elements of your web view app such as app icon, launch screen, and log-in & sign-up screens.

AppMySite offers users a ton of customization options when designing these app elements. The following points highlight some of them –

  • App iconUsers can design an app icon using the customization options available or upload their own design. The design options available include color and text fields.
  • Launch screenAlso known as the splash screen, users can access options to design the background and logo or upload their own artwork for both. AppMySite also provides access to a free image library containing high quality images for the launch screen background.
  • Log-in & sign-up screensDesign options to optimize background, logo, buttons, and fields are available. Users are also free to upload their own designs for background and logo.

These main elements will help set up the essential parts of your web view app.

Step #2 – Activate webview on dashboard

This step will enable you to display a webpage from your website on the app dashboard. After finishing work on the key app elements, head over to Dashboard under Appearance.

You will find the web view tab here. Enter a URL from your website in the field. You can also choose to display your website’s header and footer using the toggle below the field. Hit save to complete the process.

Following this procedure will essentially make sure your dashboard displays the website URL you entered. You don’t need to work on the other options in this section as you’re directly displaying your webpage.

Step #3 – Connect website and app

You need to connect your website to AppMySite in order to display your website content on the app. The following steps explain what you need to do –

  • You need to enter your WooCommerce REST API keys if your website is an ecommerce store. Generate the Consumer Key and Consumer secret from your WooCommerce website and enter them in API Details under Connectivity. Click here to learn how to generate WooCommerce REST API keys from your ecommerce store.
  • Next, download the AppMySite WordPress plugin on your website. Activate the plugin once the download is complete.
  • Head back to your AppMySite account and select Verify under Install Plugin.
  • You will be redirected to the App Preview if the connection is complete. You can additionally go to Troubleshooting in case of website-app connectivity issues.

Step #4 – Update web view settings

You can additionally choose whether to display all your app screens in web view. Follow the process below to make this change-

  • Go to App Settings and head over to the Pages tab
  • Turn on the toggle beside Enable a web view interface of all my pages. This will basically ensure every app screen basically loads a webpage.
  • You can customize other parts of the web view such as enabling hyperlinks and inputs with the other options in the section.

Step #5 – Preview and download

Download the AppMySite demo app to preview your web view app. This will help you get a real idea about the performance of your app in a mobile environment.

Look for areas where you can improve your design. To customize the design, you would naturally have to make changes on your website. You can finally download the app once you’re done making changes.

App preview

The process below explains how to download an app from AppMySite –

  • To download an app, you would need to upgrade your subscription plan. Visit the pricing page to know more about the various plans available.
  • Generate your app build after upgrading your subscription plan. You have the option to generate both Android and iOS app builds.
  • With Android, you have options to choose between AAB and APK builds.
  • Download the app after your app build is generated. You can then proceed to submit the app builds on the app stores.

Build a web view app. Provide native app experience

The main advantage of building a web view app with AppMySite is performance.

One of the main complaints people have with web view apps is their inferior performance with respect to native apps. This becomes a problem for many businesses who prefer the simplicity of developing and managing web view apps.

AppMySite streamlines performance issues in web view to provide a native app-like performance. It also provides additional capabilities within web view like active links, back button functionality, and full screen display.

These features help businesses provide a native app experience in simple web view apps. It is thus wise to choose AppMySite if you’re looking for a platform to build a web view app.

In conclusion

Not every business wants to create an app supercharged with cool features and functions. Some companies only require a simple app that can be developed and managed easily.

This drives many towards web view app development. This article provides a complete guide on how to make an Android app that links to a website. The overall app creation process discussed here is performed on AppMySite, a great platform to create a WordPress app without coding.