Building the Future of elementary OS
Why AppCenter is the center of our platform
If you thought we’d dropped off the face of the planet, you probably missed it: we have moved away from Medium and started publishing on our faster, open source, and privacy-respecting blog at blog.elementary.io. We’ve kept this blog post unlisted here on Medium for posterity, but all recent and future posts as of November, 2019 are exclusively hosted there.
elementary has been around in one form or another for a decade now; since 2007, our team has been designing, building, and supporting open source software with the goal of crafting an incredible open computing experience.
In this time we’ve seen massive advancements in mobile and desktop computing, the rise and fall of UI hyper-skeumorphism, the rise and settling of flat design, and incredible strides with web technologies.
But above all, what has persisted is the demand and desire for truly native apps. While web apps and “the cloud” have definitely ballooned in popularity, they still do not deliver the best, most integrated experience to users. Platforms that have become worldwide juggernauts have embraced and catered to native apps designed and written specifically for the platform, while countless platforms that have flopped or failed to gain any traction have targeted web apps and apps ported from other platforms.
Rather than rely on web technologies, ported apps, and subpar user experiences, elementary OS is investing our future in an indie-focused, pay-what-you-want native AppCenter tailored to open source developers.
Where We Are
We have shipped four versions of elementary OS since 2011. We’ve served up millions of OS downloads, the majority to closed source OS users.
In our latest release, elementary OS Loki, we shipped AppCenter for the first time. Its first release is a fairly simple frontend to the existing applications available to elementary OS, but it will soon become what I believe is the most important piece of elementary OS as a platform.
At the same time, we have been quietly working on AppCenter Dashboard, the developer-facing side of the store. This is the secret sauce that will soon make developers' and users' day: all developers have to do to get their app in AppCenter is log into AppCenter Dashboard with their existing GitHub account, point it at their code repo, and submit. After a short (mostly automated) review, their app is available to every user of elementary OS.
This means the latest version of apps, directly from developers, built on demand from source, available virtually immediately.
An initial version of AppCenter Dashboard is currently in private beta testing with developers, and they love it. We look forward to hooking this up to AppCenter in an upcoming point release of elementary OS Loki.
Pay What You Want
Each version of elementary OS has been made available for the price of “pay-what-you-want.” We strongly believe in making sure that developers can secure funding for their work, but we also recognize that not everyone can afford a single market value for software.
As Humble Bundle (and our experience over the last several years) has shown, there is absolutely a market in asking users to pay what they value for software. This model has raised millions for game developers and charity, has enabled elementary to grow as a small but successful company, and will now open up an entirely new market to app developers.
We are excited to announce that every app in AppCenter will be be able to be made available for pay-what-you-want.
Why elementary OS?
We have been building a top-notch computing experience for laptops and desktops for years. Our users cite the simplicity, power, and speed of elementary OS as reasons for using it over closed source platforms, as well as our focus on a laptop- and desktop-first approach rather than focusing other hardware like servers or phones.
Users flocking from Windows appreciate the focus on privacy and security. Those coming from macOS enjoy the speed, flexibility, and developer tools along with the familiar UNIX-like base.
We think that anyone who uses elementary OS will recognize its value, and if you haven’t yet, check it out!
How You Can Help
We just kicked off a small crowdfunding campaign to help us deliver a fully working pay-what-you-want AppCenter and AppCenter Dashboard as quickly as possible. If you believe in our vision of native apps, we’d love your help backing the campaign! There are a number of rewards you can check out at the campaign.
We’d like to say thanks again to our existing supporters on Bountysource and Patreon, and those who’ve purchased a copy of elementary OS or merch from our store. Every contribution has helped get us this far, and we wouldn’t be at this amazing milestone without you! If you’d like to help improve elementary OS, don’t hesitate to back our AppCenter crowdfunding campaign or Get Involved!