By Greg Mills

My daughter loaded We Rule, the iOS game in which you manage a small kingdom including houses for the people, stores of all kinds, collect taxes, rents and grow crops to buy more infrastructure. The iPad was soon also loaded and I set up my own “kingdom” and have enjoyed planning my own community, as well.

The games are free but they try to sell you mojo to speed up the development and crops of your kingdom for those without patience. They sell mojo for real dollars on the iTune store. They also give you five mojo units if you download and open apps.

We Rule is cute and engaging, but little did I expect the NGMOCO company, that has my little kingdom on its servers, would be sold for US$400,000,000. Yep, I counted the zeros right twice. They sold out for $300 million cash boom and get another $100 million if the cash flow is according to expectations. Not bad for a company formed just a few years ago.

Apps are a growth industry during the current economic downturn. With 250,000 apps in the Apple App store, 90,000 in the Android store, 80 in the Microsoft store and some apps in other smartphone platforms, developers have a good reason to build and launch new apps

I noticed a company was advertising a drag and drop app program from a banner ad on one of the other Mac news sites yesterday. ZOHO.com offered free app creator software so I went to their web site to check it out. I discovered that indeed they did have what amounts to a cross platform app developer program, but the catch is that these apps are pretty basic and are a “web app” as opposed to a smartphone platform app.

These apps are sort of like special data bases that can be customized and opened and used only in a web browser. They run on HTML and Java. As I understand it, you can create a button that can be mounted on a smartphone but when launched the app opens in a web browser window. This has certain advantages but can only access system resources that are inherent in the web browser. ZOHO offers business cloud services so you can use any computer to access your company files. They compete to some extent with the Google cloud apps.

Regular apps run directly on the operation system access the platform operating system and, thus, can use all the powerful elements of the phone to do things way beyond simply displaying information or graphics. Accessing the phone, location, sensors, etc., are something only an app residing on the platform system can touch. Developing apps for Apple is done by signing up as a developer (http://developer.apple.com/) for the iOS or Mac OS. It costs $100 per year and you get special software that allows you to build iOS apps for iPad and various iPods and iPhone.

In the Android platform there are various ways to write apps, but the new App Inventor program that is still in beta is a drag and drop program where cut and paste functions for a simple app can be put together to create a hobby app. I fully expect Apple to launch an iOS hobby app program any time. For the Google Beta Android Inventor go to http://appinventor.googlelabs.com/about/ .

Finally, while quite irrelevant and likely a wasted effort, those who want to write apps for the new Vista Mobile 7 smartphone platform from Microsoft can get a free app developer kit at http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ff402531(v=VS.92).aspx .

(Greg Mills, is a Faux Artist in Kansas City. Formerly a new product R&D man for the paint sundry market, he holds 11 US patents. He’s working on a solar energy startup, www.CottageIndustrySolar.com using a patent pending process of turning waste dual pane glass into thermal solar panels used to heat water. Greg writes for intellectual web sites and Mac related issues. See Greg’s art web site atĀ www.gregmills.info ; His email is gregmills@mac.com )