AppCenter Spotlight: Beta Testers
Five of the first apps helping test AppCenter
Over the past month we’ve been beta testing the new AppCenter with a number of developers, from elementary OS contributors to backers of our Indiegogo campaign. After testing out the submission process and getting some apps into the store (and seeing rapid updates!), I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the first apps.
One of the privileges I have as a core elementary member is testing, reviewing, and approving apps submitted via the AppCenter Dashboard. AppCenter runs automated tests and files issues against the GitHub projects, so most of the time these are super simple sanity checks. But it’s also exciting to be able to check a diff of an app release, ensure it does what it says, and file any issues for the developer.
One of the largest and most complex apps we’ve been testing with is Vocal by Needle & Thread. Vocal is a full-featured podcast app with both audio and video podcast support, iTunes Store integration, streaming and download support, smart library management, and a whole lot more.
I personally use it almost daily to keep up with my podcasts, and appreciate it being one of the first apps designed for elementary OS to ship in AppCenter. It really shows off the potential for a native app. I’m excited to see Needle & Thread continue to improve it with fast and frequent updates in AppCenter.
A great example of a mockup turned into a beautiful and usable app, Spice-Up by Felipe Escoto is another app beta testing AppCenter.
It’s a relatively simple-to-use presentation app, but has really useful features like pattern and gradient backgrounds, rich image, graphic, and text support, and PDF exporting.
While a pomodoro app doesn’t seem like that big of a deal, Tomato (whose development is lead by Luiz Augusto) is a great little app that does exactly what you’d expect while fitting into elementary OS. It also manages to sport some handy features like auto-resetting work cycles each day, intelligently stopping a cycle if it’s paused too long, showing its status on the dock, and continuing to work in the background when the window is closed.
I use this one frequently while working and appreciate the combination of simplicity and attention to detail.
Another app by Felipe Escoto, Notes-Up is a handy note-taking app. It has all the features you need: multiple notebooks that support multiple pages, Markdown support for rapid writing, PDF export with beautiful default elementary-inspired styling, and deep content search. Fun fact: I wrote this post in Notes-Up before pasting it over to Medium. :)
This is an app on the list that I really need to use more because every time I do, I’m reminded why native apps offer the best experience: having a powerful offline notebook with all my writing in it is just super useful, and much nicer on my battery than having a web app open all day long.
One of the more interesting utility-type apps I’ve used is Eddy by Adam Bieńkowski. It’s billed as a simple Debian package installer, and it delivers on that promise while clearly being well-thought-out and designed according to the elementary HIG.
While we always recommend users hit up AppCenter for their apps rather than downloading them from the web (due to the automated and human review processes that go along with a trusted source), there are some reasons for people to install Debian packages directly: apps designed for Ubuntu from large ISVs, various developer packages, or even developers testing out their own packaging, for example. For those uses, Eddy does its job well.
My favorite feature is “Load from Downloads” which shows all .deb files in your Downloads folder and offers to install them (or even uninstall if they’re already installed). You can also choose a package via the file chooser, or just drag and drop one onto the app from Files.
What Would You Like to See?
I’ve covered my favorite apps that are helping us test AppCenter, but what types of apps would you like to see? I’m stoked to see more apps popping into the review queue, and maybe your response can help inspire the next great app designed for elementary OS. :)
We’d like to say thanks again to our supporters on Bountysource and Patreon, those who’ve purchased a copy of elementary OS or merch from our store. Every contribution helps make all of this possible, and we wouldn’t be here without you! If you’d like to help improve elementary OS, don’t hesitate to Get Involved!