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AMA roundup - Arun Saigal
6 min read

AMA roundup - Arun Saigal

Thunkable CEO Arun Saigal

How easy is it to use 3rd party APIs with Thunkable? Can you provide any examples of products built with Thunkable using APIs?

It is really easy to use 3rd party APIs!We have 2 ways to use 3rd party API:

  1. Built in API integrations- we have lots of integrations with partners of ours, like Image Recognition (Microsoft), Chatbot (Google), Firebase (Google), Translations (Yandex), Blockchain (Oasis), and many more
  2. We have a generic “API” component that you can use to read/write data from any API. Here is a link to a tutorial for how to use Thunkable’s API component: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUnWhwHHmO4&t=75s

Hi Arun, what do you think about “Play” vs your product?

I haven’t tried Play’s Beta, but it looks like an awesome tool.


Do you have plans to support Apple Pay in the near future?

One of the next things we are working on is to support a number of ways to take payments. We are asking folks which they want and and trying to build the most requested ones: first up is In-App Purchases which should be out very soon.


How big is the thunkable team? What inspired you to start this company? Do you plan to stick with React Native as the background language forever?

Lot’s of good stuff here- I’ll try to answer them all. We are a team of ~15 people.

We got our start working on Scratch at MIT. We then built the precursor to Thunkable at MIT/Google, originally as the MIT App Inventor project. When we saw how big an impact our research project was having, we started talking with our users. We realized that there was way more potential for our research project and we had just gotten started. But to realize that potential, we had to be a stand alone organization that was fully focused on our product, so we formed a company.

As of now, React Native works well for our use case, but we are always making sure we are on the cutting edge of technology.


Can you talk about what you are seeing with no code/ thunkable in the enterprise landscape?

Just like with citizen development, we are also seeing team members in the enterprise want to take their ideas to life without always being dependent on the full-stack mobile engineer. By allowing anyone on the team to build and iterate on an app, you can bring to the forefront the creativity of every team member for demos, rapid prototyping, proof of concepts, etc. all the way to full fledged apps.


What made your choice between one builder language vs another as the background code powering the blocks?

When we started, we built everything for Android in Java. When we moved to a cross platform product, we realized that we needed something that was flexible enough to support both Android and iOS, that was mature and stable enough that we could build on top of it reliably, and that had a great community behind it, since we think community powered tools are great.


What are the use cases you guys feel that are better covered by thunkable? How do you guys got to the features that you have available on thunkable today?

We started with bringing the ability to develop a mobile app to a larger audience and we’ve built on that over time by launching cross-platform capability of building a native iOS app as well. Our creators find that when you need offline support, access to GPS, gyroscope, etc. and other hardware capabilities, you can’t really go with a web app.


Thunkable is the only platform of this new kind that creates both iOS and Android apps, so it’s a pretty good advantage, you probably are aware of that so, are you working to have a very solid platform to set a standard and ‘kill’ the competition and have a big advantage when they will get on board? Or is it not so easy? I mean, the tool is great but it’s limited as of right now compared to a typical app programming; do you think that you will ever reach the same quality of ‘programmed’ apps?

Thanks for your question! We worked really hard to create a cross-platform product that could deliver both Android and iOS mobile apps. We know that as the no-code space continues to heat up, we will need to continue delivering innovation to our users. Our goal is to set the standard and be the default platform you go to anytime you need to build any app.

Because our apps have native code under the hood, we believe that they will be the same quality as programmed apps. Already people who build certain apps on Thunkable tell us they share their apps and people think that it was written in Java/Kotlin/Swift/React Native, and don’t realize that it was built in Thunkable.


Do you intend to remain mobile only or plan to introduce web support in the future?

Stay tuned! People want full flexibility to do things and we think we can help 😉


When deciding between an imperative vs declarative visual approach (or any of the potential best-of-worlds grey areas between) what were the considerations and what are your current thoughts/theories on that choice?

We tried to approach this by coming up with a tool that mirrored how people think. People think: “When I click the button, something should happen,” so we have a When Button Clicked block. We also have a number of other cues. For example, each block has a different shape that shows you what block it connects to, which helps you figure out what to do next. Altogether, this helps walk users through the implicit logic of what needs to happen, by connecting it to observable events in their app.


I know thunkable has started to focus on the cross platform and there has been good progresses, can we expect a lot of new features and performance fixes soon enough? Things like a better integration with google maps or other features from thunkable and other services?

Great question! We are constantly improving our core capabilities as well as introducing new features/integrations. Re: performance- earlier this year, we released a re-write of our core logic block engine that significantly improved performance especially for larger, more complex projects, and we are continuing to release a number of performance improvements in the coming weeks! (edited)


Unqork just raised another $50 million on top of an $80 million round in Oct. Why the massive investment in node code app builders?

The no-code space is really heating up! People are realizing that developing software and powerful technology requires a tremendous amount of funding, expertise and large teams. The space could definitely benefit from innovation, especially innovation that makes development more inclusive. From the investor side, I’m guessing there are a lot of predictions on how much no-code technology will be worth in the future.


Have you, or non-technical members of your team, built a lot of internal use apps with thunkable, specifically stuff you run the company on? And if so which ones?

Great question! We definitely have seen many users create apps that they use in their businesses, and we use apps Thunkable apps internally too! They include sharing data, taking polls and sometimes some quick-and-dirty apps for one-off events.


Would Thunkable X, in the future, ever have the ability to support animations. Such as a pop up button or drop down search bar.

Hi there! We currently support animations and compatibility with Airbnb’s Lottie library. This allows anyone to incorporate animations into their apps. When it comes to more advanced animations like a pop up button or drop down search bar, there are ways to make it happen but we are always talking about how we can add more animation features by default into our apps.Here is a tutorial for how to use the animation component: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IS0cLh9XVC8&t=17s


As someone who has been using Thunkable X frequently for the past few months and really enjoying its flexibility and built-in capabilities but who is also a K-8 teacher, can you discuss how you see Thunkable fitting into the K-12 educational space?

We see a lot of activity from people who come to Thunkable in an education context. In addition to those using Thunkable to learn to code, we also see creators learn a lot from using Thunkable to develop apps that solve some sort of problem in their community or a local business. The customer discovery process (interviewing, etc.) and then making it a reality with a working app they can show on their phone has allowed students to build out skill sets beyond just coding. We’re really excited that we can be a part of empowering students!


There are other cross-platform builders currently. How does Thunkable plan to stay ahead of the game or to retain users as other services emerge? It’s all about the bottom line for most of us, what will keep Thunkable the more valuable platform to work though?

We are always working to make the platform more powerful, easier to use, and expand the latest mobile technology to our users. We also continue to grow our amazing community of Thunkers, which is critical in pushing the boundaries of what you can do with Thunkable, in addition to having an inspiring group of people to bounce ideas around. A similar question was asked above, please let me know if you have other specifics!

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