Robots & Pencils, a company that has up until now been making mobile apps for others, is launching a new platform for Mac that it says reimagines Apple’s HyperCard and allows non-developers to create & publish native iOS apps. Dubbed ‘PencilCase,’ users can create native apps with a drag and drop interface for adding UI elements, 3D models, programmed animations, and physics with no code required. There’s also a full built-in Javascript engine for those that might want to add some code.

We’ve seen a few similar build-your-own app platforms aimed at non-developers, but Robots & Pencils CEO Michael Sikorsky told us a little bit about why PencilCase is different:

One of the best ways to understand it from a technology standpoint, is that we’re emitting an a classic obj-c Xcode project.  You can imagine why this was important to us, first: native, obj-c apps provide the best user experience and secondly, no tool will ever let you be able to do *everything* hence we can advance apps, by hand later on, cause it is all just a normal Xcode obj-c project.

While PencilCase creates 100% native apps written in Objective-C rather than HTML5 apps disguised as native apps like many other platforms, there is a function to wrap an HTML5 app as a native app in PencilCase too.

The platform will also have an “AppDrop” feature that allows enterprise and institution customers to setup and distribute apps through their own private App Store. That gives them control over their own approval process and as well as an App Store-like app with categories and featured content. That feature will require a $299/year Apple Enterprise license. 

PencilCase will be available later this year but is already available to preorder starting at a one-time fee of $119 with other plans available for professional and corporate users.


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Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & Electrek.co. He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.