We know that developing web apps is cheaper, takes less time, and is more effective than building native apps, but we wanted to hear from developers about their experience building apps for KaiOS.

We chatted with Christian Waadt, Eli Shulga, Gabriel Rotaru, Victor Lee, and Ben Simms about why developing mobile applications for KaiOS is easier than for any other platform. Here’s what they said:

1. KaiOS is beginner-friendly

Knowledge of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript are all you need to start building apps for KaiOS. But if you don’t have these skills yet, there are free tutorials to help you learn.

Eli Shulga (Running Santa, Flying Egg, Socks Monster) taught himself how to code using free resources. “I just kind of became a game developer,” he says. “I found a tutorial and thought, ‘this could be fun.’”

Christian Waadt (K-Loan, wheelCal, Airship Combat 3D) also thinks anyone can learn. “It’s easy and pretty forgiving when your code is not super tidy in the beginning.”

2. Developing mobile apps for KaiOS is possible for small teams

You don’t need a large team to build KaiOS apps; most apps in the KaiStore were built by small teams or individual developers.

Victor Lee’s team (Treasure of Pirates, Kibi Cross) didn’t have the time and energy to invest in large projects, so they chose to invest their limited resources where they could have the biggest impact.

“We’d heard about KaiOS and smart feature phones, about how they have small screens and limited performance. We figured that these limitations would help us create games”, Victor says.

Most KaiOS developers have full-time jobs and work on KaiOS in their free time. Ben Simms (Boom Boom Fishing) works on KaiOS apps during his one-hour commute.

3. KaiOS developers get personalized feedback and support

Independent developers thrive on KaiOS because the developer support team is with them every step of the way. When you contact developer support via email or Discord, you can expect a response within 24-48 hours from an actual human.

“It’s good to know that there are real people working for KaiOS,” Christian says. “When you have a question, someone from the team, not a machine, replies.”

Personalized feedback kept Gabriel Rotaru (Guess the Logo, Hangman, Sliding Puzzle, and Trivia Challenge) going when, as a beginner, he felt like giving up.

“Fortunately, a KaiOS team member, Asis, reached out. With his help, I ended up building a trivia quiz app…It was enough to motivate me to build more,” he says.

4. KaiOS is invested in your success

Developers are essential to the KaiOS ecosystem. That’s why KaiOS supports them in building, launching, and marketing their apps:

  • The KaiOS Developer Portal is free and is easy to use, even for absolute beginners, and includes a simulator, a design guide, and WebIDE tools for debugging.
  • The developer support team is always available to help.
  • We feature developers on the KaiOS blog and promote their apps on social media.

5. KaiOS offers a less competitive environment for developers

Google Play and the App Store have millions of apps—2.56 million and 1.85 million, respectively, as of Q1 of 2020.

Reaching users in these crowded marketplaces is hard. “Without a huge marketing budget, your creation goes unnoticed,” says Christian. “If I publish a game [in Apple’s App store], it’s visible for about five minutes,” adds Ben.

Eli paid to promote his game Running Santa in the App Store, but it only got a few hundred downloads. In the KaiStore, it was downloaded 11,000 times without any paid promotion.

Victor’s app also had a higher engagement on KaiOS. In less than three months, KibiCross received six million impressions and 13,000 ad clicks.

Start developing mobile applications for KaiOS today

When we asked these developers what advice they would give anyone thinking about developing for KaiOS, they all said essentially the same thing: just do it.

“It might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t hesitate to contact the KaiOS team, because they’re really friendly and helpful,” says Gabriel.

“You really have personal access to the KaiOS team,” adds Eli. He recommends starting small so you can get your app into people’s hands and improve from there.

Ready to get started? Sign up for a free account in our developer portal.