Do you want to build your own app? Or do you like to build your own apps during your free time and think you have tried all the Thunkable features? Are you looking to create cooler apps? Let’s explore some advanced Thunkable features for you to try out!
What’s the best app builder?
Create & Learn teaches drag and drop mobile app development with Thunkable for many reasons. Firstly, Thunkable does not require a phone to use and their apps work on both Android and iOS devices. Second, Thunkable is easy to learn and has lots of overlaps with Scratch. In fact, the founders of Thunkable worked on creating Scratch. Lastly, Thunkable has a wide variety of features as we showed earlier in this article. If you’re new to Thunkable we recommend starting with Create & Learn’s Thunkable coding intro tutorial.
Can I build my own app for free?
Yes, Thunkable is free for up to 10 apps. There is a paid “Starter” version that allows for up to 20 apps and a more expensive “Pro” version that allows for unlimited apps along with other features. If you reach your 10 app limit you could either delete apps (you should try to delete accidental copies and very simple apps first) or you could create a new account with a different email address.
How to build your own app with advanced Thunkable features
Thunkable has so many types of components and blocks, where is a good place to start your advanced Thunkable app? Here are 10 suggested Thunkable features we recommend:
Have you ever wanted to build a mobile game with moving characters and animations? Thunkable’s Canvas feature allows you to create mobile games with graphics. Similar to Scratch, Thunkable’s Canvas apps consist of sprites that represent objects on the screen. You can program these sprites to move based on the user’s touch and react to other sprites. Check out Thunkable’s guide to Canvas and Thunkable’s guide to Sprites!
Do you want to build a game where characters move based on how much your phone is tilted? Then check out the gyroscope! A gyroscope is a small sensor inside your phone that detects how much your phone is tilted in 3 dimensional space. The three dimensions are left/right (x/beta direction), up/down (y/alpha direction) and towards you and away from you (the z/gamma direction). Learn more about the gyroscope with Thunkable’s guide!
3. Sound / Text to Speech
One way to make your app more exciting is to add sound! There are two ways to add sound to your app. First, you can upload an MP3 file to Thunkable and program when Thunkable plays the sound. For example, your app can play a sound effect after a button is pressed or a certain event happens in the game. Another way to add sound to your app is with the text to speech component that reads given text out loud. Explore free MP3 sound effects and the Thunkable guide to the sound component or the text to speech component.
4. Location Sensor
Want to build an app that uses your phone’s location? Then check out the Location Sensor feature! The Location Sensor uses your phone’s GPS tracker to determine its current longitude and latitude, Earth’s coordinate system (learn more about longitude and latitude here in the Kid’s Encyclopedia Britannica). GPS, short for “global positioning system”, is a network of satellites that use fancy math to determine where a GPS device is on Earth. Read up on Thunkable’s guide to the Location Sensor.
Now that you are able to determine your phone’s location, let’s display the location on a map! Thunkable’s map feature allows you to center the map on a given coordinate. You can also set the zoom level and add pins to the map as well. For more information about the Map feature check out Thunkable’s map guide.
Almost all professionally created apps use a database. A database allows an app to store complex information and is often stored in tables that look like spreadsheets. For more information about databases check out this Kid’s Encyclopedia Britannica article. Databases are useful for apps that use lots of data (ex: a trivia quiz) or for apps where multiple users can post (ex: a chat app). Thunkable is able to connect to a locally created database (a database that is stored as part of your app) or an AirTable database (a database stored in the cloud). Read more on Thunkable local databases or using an AirTable database with Thunkable.
7. Media DB
If your app is going to store media files such as photos, videos, or MP3s, you must use a media database. Thunkable connects with Cloudinary, a cloud storage service. Using Thunkable blocks one can upload a photo or video to the cloud, very similar to how you upload a photo to Google Drive. For instructions on how to set up a media database check out these Thunkable docs.
Do you want to build an app with a lot of different screens? Check out the navigator templates! For example, you can build an app that has tabs similar to the phone app on your device. (Thunkable guide for tab navigator) Or you can have an app where new screens automatically come with a back button that leads back to a previous screen, called a “stack navigator”. (Thunkable guide for stack navigator.) You can also have an app with a drawer sidebar that appears from the side. (Thunkable guide for drawer navigator.) These navigators enable you to organize all your app’s screens in easy to use menus.
9. List and Data Viewer
Another way to organize your app is to display your data as a list or grid. The list viewer will display a list similar to your list of contacts in the Contacts app. The grid viewer will display a grid similar to the grid of photos you see in a photo app. These data viewers can read data directly from a database. There’s no need to create a component for each list item or square in the grid! Read up on Thunkable’s guide to the list viewer or the grid viewer.
One way to simplify your app is to use an alert instead of navigating to a new screen. For example, instead of having a game over screen you can have a simple alert that says the game is over and displays your score. You can also program these alerts to react differently depending on which button is pressed. Explore more about Thunkable alerts.
Get started building your own app
The possibilities are endless with these advanced suggestions! If you want some more guidance for how to bring your Thunkable apps to the next level, feel free to look through Thunkable’s sample projects or check out the Thunkable community. If you want some additional guidance check out Create & Learn’s Thunkable courses!
We offer three levels (12 classes) of instruction for Thunkable that cover many of these advanced features in our Mobile Coding for Apps and Games program. Get started with the best computer classes today, and begin your Thunkable learning adventure! These classes can be taken all year long, and make for a great after school activity, or weekend learning. There are also fun online summer camps and virtual winter break camps that can help your child learn computer science as well.
Written by Brandon Lim, a Create & Learn instructor and curriculum developer. Brandon also works full-time as a software engineer and holds a BS in Computer Science from Johns Hopkins University. Brandon has experience teaching coding to students of all ages from elementary school to college and is excited to share his deep knowledge and relentless passion for coding with the next generation of technology leaders.