I recently got access to Thunkable X and started exploring it, here are my first impressions.
There are a few features I don’t understand and others that don’t see to work. That’s not a big deal as this version of Thunkable is still in an early stage of development and I’ll eventually get more familiar with it.
The IDE is fast and some of the components have several useful new features such as the layout and scaling options. However, I don’t like the color scheme as it reduces usability. Contrast is low and the colors seem washed out. Legibility is poor on screens such as those of some Chromebooks that may have low quality panels and limited viewing angles.
Aside from this Thunkable X has a deeper issue that concerns me.
In short, everything in Thunkable X screams iOS. The IDE, the documentation, the look and feel of the generated apps.
Even if I don’t personally use iOS, supporting iOS in addition to Android is a good thing as it gives Thunkable a wider user base, access to new markets, and more potential paying customers, thus offering growth opportunities and long term support. But the current iOS-first focus of Thunkable X makes Android support feel unwelcome, a legacy feature to be eventually deprecated and abandoned.
This makes me wonder whether Thunkable is still committed to Android. I don’t know whether I’m right to be concerned but this is certainly the perception I get.
The main consequence of the iOS-first focus is the Android apps created with Thunkable X feel like iOS apps or otherwise non native. As a user I don’t like the Android ports of iOS apps that still retain a strong iOS flavor and don’t adapt to the platform’s native design language and features, i.e. Material design. I don’t need or want such apps neither as a user nor as a developer. I instead want my apps to look native, well integrated and at home on Android. I want more Material Design, not less.
The Thunkable X approach simplifies development and maintenance for the Thunkable team and reduces costs. These are all good things. But forcing a iOS look and feel on Android is a disservice to the platform and its users. A good cross-platform development tool and framework should instead adapt and make apps look native on all the supported platforms like Google’s Flutter.
Thunkable was a huge improvement over App Inventor because of its initial support for Material Design. But Thunkable X is a step in the opposite direction and it’s not what I hoped and was looking for.
I’m disappointed and expected something different.