From Software Center to App Store

Yay, Craig and I managed to get back on the podcast train once I got back from my Vacation. It's still a work in progress as we fight to try to keep our normal extended discussions down to a 30min podcast. This time I wanted to discuss the idea of the desktop os app store and there were a few things we didn't get to in the podcast. I had originally wanted to try to go through the things I felt were missing from the Software Center in Ubuntu that prevented me from counting it as an "App Store". The Software Center is coming along since I checked it out during the original blueprint phase. I think it could definitely get to an app store look/feel. So first my rants on things I'm not a fan of.

  • The universal access icon is white which set upon a light background makes it nearly impossible to read/see.
  • In the "Get Software" section, is that really the new Canonical logo? A purple dot? Sorry, but it looks horrible.
  • In the "Installed Software" link on the left side I completely missed it had any logo since it's again, white logo on white background.
  • When viewing the details on a software package I love the link for the Website, but the fact that there's no hover/other indication this is clickable it looks more like a heading vs a link.

Anyway, that's just my off the cuff nit picking. What I really wanted to go through is the list of features I'd love to see to have the app store concept take off in Ubuntu.

First up, only show the software. Forget the libraries. Anything that starts with lib should be hidden by default. I also don't think there should be any view of all packages. It's just scary. I think search and going through categories/simplified interfaces are the only way to go. Does anyone honestly think users are going to go through the entire list? I think there's a bunch of things that can be done to clean up the lists of package in order to make things approachable to users.

Next up, when I think of app stores I think of paid apps. Now I know Canonical has some software in their online canonical store, but that's not where I go to install software. I should be able to purchase software right in the Software Center. Along these lines, the Canonical partners repo is the place to put this stuff. Beyond these few things from the Canonical store, I'd love to see this opened up for other software to be submitted for purchase or maybe donation. How cool would it be to be able to support your favorite apps right through the software center?

While we're talking about the parters repo, how is it that just about none of those packages have icons? Not only that, a quick test of a few shows no info in the "More Info" section. You'd think these packages would have help from Canonical getting into place and these should be the gold standards of user experience for packages in the Software Center.

Finally, and according to a recent podcast episode there's already work going on to allow users to write reviews and ratings of software in there. This is great news and will open up a bunch of user interface enhancements for users looking for software.

So discovery, purchase, and reputation. These are the big things I think need help in the Ubuntu Software Center. What things do you think are missing?

Edit: And I should have started here, but definitely looks like much of the paid/donations stuff is something they're looking to do currently. Check out their roadmap.