Reactor from AppPresser is a new tool that can create a native application for iOS and Android from your existing WordPress site.
As a platform for building mobile-friendly websites, WordPress is well ahead of the curve. Theme marketplaces are full of responsive themes that make it straightforward to build sites that play well with devices of all sizes.
In general, responsive design is the best way to go when you want to offer a good experience on mobile: it’s less expensive and time-consuming than a dedicated mobile site, and it’s certainly less work than developing a mobile application from scratch.
But there are occasions where native applications are preferable to responsive sites. A website has limitations that native apps don’t. Some of the advantages of having an app include:
- Native push notifications.
- Access to device hardware like GPS and the camera.
- Better performance.
- The user doesn’t have to be online to use some features of the app.
Think about how well your favorite Android or iOS application would work if its developers were forced to only use the features available in mobile browsers. Many of its features would be present, but it wouldn’t provide the best experience.
Do You Need A Native App?
A native application should not be thought of as a substitute for a responsive site. Many users will want to interact with your website via their mobile browser, even if you have made a native application available for them. The application should be seen as an enhancement to your existing site that’s available if users want to take advantage of the additional features.
And if you’re going to provide a mobile application, you should ensure that there are additional features that you couldn’t otherwise provide. For a basic blog or magazine site, there probably isn’t much to be gained; for an eCommerce store, an informational site with frequently updated content, or an eCommerce store, an application can take advantage of a device’s native features that aren’t available in the browser.
There have been any number of services promising to take a WordPress site and create a native application, but they haven’t always lived up to their promise. Reactor takes advantage of the new WordPress API, which gives it deeper and broader access to WordPress. The API allows AppPresser to create a more pleasing experience than earlier efforts, including those from AppPresser.
Before discussing what Reactor can do, it’s worth mentioning that it is a premium tool with monthly subscription pricing. To get the full benefit, you’ll pay at least $29 a month, and if you want eCommerce integration, the cost is $99. That might seem steep — and for most sites prohibitively so — but Reactor is aimed at a sector of the market that can justify those costs and offers a premium experience. If you’re a small blogger, Reactor isn’t for you. If you make serious money from your site and think that you’d make even more with a native application, you should give it a try.
As you might expect, Reactor will pull all of the content from your WordPress site into the application: that includes posts, pages, and custom content. If you’re on the top tier, it also includes any WooCommerce product pages. You can add additional content that doesn’t appear on your WordPress site, and you can include custom CSS to tweak the appearance.
Reactor provides an intuitive dashboard for building your application, with a wide range of app page types into which your WordPress content will be inserted.
The result is not quite as slick as if you paid an experienced Android or iOS developer to create apps from scratch, but it’s a good deal less expensive and time-consuming than custom development.
If you want to see what Reactor can do, take a look at this video and some examples of sites who have used Reactor to build applications.
Reactor is useful to a fairly narrow subset of WordPress users. It’s on the expensive side for smaller publishers, bloggers, and business site owners, many of whom don’t need native applications anyway. At the other end of the market are sites that have the resources to hire a developer to create their application from scratch. If your site fits somewhere in-between those two groups, Reactor is definitely worth a look.