No programming language skills required: Microsoft’s new “no-code” Power Apps beta is available

Microsoft has released a new public preview of its Power Apps mobile app for iOS and Android that runs both “canvas” and “model-driven” apps.

Microsoft’s Power Apps is an example of a low-code tool that lets non-coders build business apps without knowing a language like C#.

A canvas app allows a designer to build an app by dragging items onto a canvas and integrating data from multiple sources, such as SharePoint or Excel and many non-Microsoft sources. The layout of model-driven apps is determined for the user.

The new Power Apps mobile beta unifies both types of software into a single app that offers both canvas and template-based apps in a single listing.

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“Today, using both canvas and model-based apps on a mobile device at the same time is a painful experience, as it requires installing two different mobile apps on your device,” the program manager said. PowerApps, Kavishi Agarwal.

Microsoft has given model-driven apps in Power Apps a new responsive user experience targeted at mobile use with gesture support, updated animations, and a cleaner layout to bring them up to speed with the experience general applications on iOS and Android.

The hamburger menu in the upper left corner provides access to the slide-out sitemap, while the search and quick create (“+”) icons are available on all pages. Improvements have also been made to navigation while page-level controls are found at the bottom of the screen.

Users can also pin model-driven apps to an Android or iPhone home screen for a native app-like experience.

Microsoft released Power Apps in 2015 so business users and developers could build custom native, mobile, and web apps without writing a single line of code. The service runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud and can connect to Office 365 data through a Microsoft Graph interface.

Google now has its own low-code offering after acquiring Seattle-based AppSheet in January and adding it to Google Cloud.

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AppSheet integrates with G Suite and Google Cloud data sources, as well as Office 365, Salesforce, Box, Dropbox, AWS DynamoDB, and MySQL.

Power Apps is in Microsoft’s Power Platform, which includes the Power BI and Power Virtual Agent bots. Microsoft released a Power Platform template earlier this month to help organizations respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic create their own crisis communication and collaboration app

The template app allows employees to report their work status, while administrators can use the app to send news and updates to an organization, as well as access RSS feeds.


Microsoft’s Power Apps is a low-code tool that allows non-coders to build professional apps.

Picture: Microsoft

Rosemary C. Kearney