Exploring Power Apps: Key Features and Capabilities

Are there processes or areas in your organisation that could be streamlined with the addition of a purpose-built app? Many people think that unless you have a coding background, there’s no way you can build an app yourself. You may anticipate waiting weeks, months, or (let’s be honest) years until that great idea you had becomes reality. But, here’s the good news: Power Apps is a game changer.

Microsoft understood that this was a significant challenge facing organisations that were trying to keep up with the sometimes impossible pace of the digital landscape – which is where Power Apps, a powerful tool in the Power Platform, comes in! This low-code app-building platform empowers people who don’t have a coding background to take control of their ideas, streamline processes, and drive innovation within their organisations, overcoming business challenges along the way.

In this article, we’ll explore the key features and capabilities of Power Apps, including its drag-and-drop interface. By understanding these features, you’ll gain a deeper insight into how this platform can revolutionise the way you build and deploy business applications, whether you’re creating a mobile app or starting from scratch with complex applications, the business benefits are endless.

A smart tablet on a desk showing the home screen with apps.

The Purpose and Benefits of Power Apps

Power Apps is a low-code development platform that eliminates the need for traditional software development cycles, enabling rapid app development and deployment. It’s a key part of the Power Platform, which also includes Power BI and Power Automate for process automation.

It’s designed to be effortlessly used by professional developers and citizen developers alike, bridging the gap between IT and business users. By leveraging the platform’s custom connectors and drag-and-drop interface, users can create scalable and functional apps quickly, without the need for extensive coding knowledge. The key benefits include increased productivity, reduced development time and low cost, and the ability to leverage existing data sources seamlessly.

Getting Started

To begin using Power Apps, you’ll need an Office 365 or Microsoft 365 account. The user-friendly interface provides a canvas where you can visually design and build your app, whether you’re creating a mobile app or working on a complex application. You can start with a Canvas app (most common) or a model-driven app. You are best to explore the templates available over building an app from scratch.

Key Features and Capabilities

Power Apps offers a range of features that empower users to create dynamic and functional applications, including canvas apps, model-drive apps, and support for a range of connectors. It seamlessly integrates with various data sources, such as SharePoint, Excel, SQL Server, and Dynamics 365, allowing you to leverage existing data sources for your app. Real-time data updates ensure users always have the latest information at their fingertips.

You can also take advantage of Power Apps’ customisable templates, available through the App Maker portal. These templates cover various business scenarios and can be tailored to specific requirements, providing a head start in the development process.

Microsoft recently revealed a public preview release of new enterprise application templates for Power Platform. These templates are part of a family of end-to-end solutions that streamline and automate core business processes for various departmental use cases. They’ve started with solutions for Procurement and Human Resources, and plan to expand into additional departmental use cases in the near future.

These templates are not intended as beginner training tools. Instead, they are designed to serve as accelerators for rapid transformation in real production environments. They seamlessly integrate with enterprise systems such as SAP and Microsoft Dataverse, offer exceptional user experiences, and are built on the foundation of apps that have already been successfully deployed within Microsoft and other global customers.

Power Automate integration enables you to automate workflows and integrate processes across different applications and services, enhancing efficiency and process automation.

AI Builder, another powerful capability of Power Apps, allows you to incorporate artificial intelligence functionalities into your apps. From form processing to object detection and sentiment analysis, AI Builder provides pre-built AI models that can be customised to meet your specific business needs and business logic.

Power Apps ensures that your applications are responsive and accessible across devices and screen sizes. The platform automatically adapts the app layout and design, providing a consistent user experience. Collaboration tools enable multiple users, including app developers, business users, and stakeholders, to work together simultaneously, ensuring that the final app meets the requirements and expectations of all parties involved.

A layout of a app design on a mobile.

Start Building

To create an app, start by defining the data source and designing the user interface and functionality. Power Apps offers a variety of controls, such as buttons, forms, galleries, and data tables, which can be easily added to the app’s screens. These controls can be customised and configured to interact with the underlying data source. Formulas and expressions add functionality to the app, allowing for calculations, data manipulation, conditional logic, and integration with external services. And don’t forget reporting and business intelligence, you can embed Power BI into your apps or create Power BI reports on your app data. 

Thoroughly testing the app’s functionality and performance is crucial before deployment. Once the app passes testing, it can be published and made available to users through web browsers, mobile devices, or within the Power Apps platform. Continuous monitoring of usage, performance, and user feedback allows for updates and improvements to address any issues or enhance functionality based on the results.

Want some more tips and tricks to help get your Power Apps journey started? Our inhouse experts break it down here.

Let Propelle Help You Power Up

Now that we’ve given you this thorough breakdown of the platform, it’s time to introduce Power Apps to your business! Propelle’s experts can help you take your organisation to the next level with custom apps that all of your employees can learn to use. Get in touch today to kick off your journey with this user-friendly Power Platform.

Can Power Apps be used on any device?

Yes, it's available for Windows, iOS, and Android devices, providing cross-platform compatibility.

Do I need coding experience to use Power Apps?

No, it's designed for both professional developers and citizen developers, with its intuitive visual interface and low-code approach.

Can I integrate Power Apps with other Microsoft services?

Yes, it seamlessly integrates with various Microsoft services such as SharePoint, Excel, and Dynamics 365, enhancing its capabilities.

Are apps built with Power Apps scalable?

Yes, it allows for scalable app development that can handle increasing data volumes and user interactions.

Can Power Apps be used offline?

Yes, it supports offline capabilities, enabling users to work without an internet connection and synchronize data once connected.