AI tool uses ChatGPT to build you an app in 30 minutes — and we tried it

Programmer sitting at a laptop and monitors
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The range of AI-powered tools continues to expand as engineers find new uses for this burgeoning technology. For example, how about the ability of ChatGPT to create websites in mere minutes without having to write a single line of code? 

That's the goal behind MetaGPT. It's an online platform using the GPT-4 (Generative Pre-trained Transformer 4) multimodal large language model underpinning ChatGPT to produce tiny microapps it calls 'picos'.

Thousands of these web-based applications have already been created, including a voice transcriber, an online player for a radio station, and a Tinder knockoff.

What is MetaGPT?

Developed by New York-based company WhimsyWorks, MetaGPT offers users a no-code solution to turn their idea into a website or online app using AI.

If you’ve recently used an AI chatbot, the premise is similar. The browser-based builder will ask you to type what you want to achieve and then get to work.

While a chatbot like ChatGPT or Google Bard would typically reply with a wall of text, MetaGPT produces a usable app. Based on your prompt, the builder will give you a visual representation of what your new website looks like while GPT-4 does the heavy lifting to craft the working code in the background.

MetaGPT is available for immediate use. You can start by signing up for a free account that allows you to create one app (or "pico") to get going with. Users that want the ability to create unlimited apps and websites will have to fork out $29 per month. 

In addition, you’re allowed to update your new creation up to four times before you have to start paying for the service. For example, based on a first attempt, you may want to suggest refinements to the user interface or work to eliminate any bugs in the system.

Once you’re happy with the result, the platform provides you with a unique URL for your pico which you’re allowed to share with the world. You can also purchase a custom domain and have it redirect users to your new app. 

If your idea is simple enough, the process from signing up for an account to publishing your website can be done in under 30 minutes.

What can it do? We tried it out

While the thought of the freedom to instantly turn your ideas into a website sounds exciting, MetaGPT’s current capabilities are rather muted.

Our first test to create a news aggregator based on a topic of a user’s choice rendered an app that left us staring at our own prompt. Our plan to create a text-to-image generator in a few minutes was also too ambitious.

So far, so bad.

In all fairness, MetaGPT warns users upfront that it’s best reserved for single-page web apps and urges people to avoid mobile app ideas or complex applications. 

However, it serves as a taste of what’s to come when powerful AI platforms generate new tools that can either continue spawning new ones or else iterate newer versions of themselves until they’ve reached perfection.

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Christoph Schwaiger

Christoph Schwaiger is a journalist who mainly covers technology, science, and current affairs. His stories have appeared in Tom's Guide, New Scientist, Live Science, and other established publications. Always up for joining a good discussion, Christoph enjoys speaking at events or to other journalists and has appeared on LBC and Times Radio among other outlets. He believes in giving back to the community and has served on different consultative councils. He was also a National President for Junior Chamber International (JCI), a global organization founded in the USA. You can follow him on Twitter @cschwaigermt.