Raspberry Pi Gets Its Own App Store

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Software for the miniature computer grows into a separate ecosystem

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has launched a dedicated app store, in what could be the most important development for its miniature ARM-based Linux computer since it first hit the shelves almost a year ago.

The Pi Store will host games, applications, tools, tutorials and any other content related to Raspberry Pi, and in keeping with the spirit of open source, most of it will be offered free.

The store platform was developed in partnership with independent game marketplace IndieCity and content delivery network specialists Velocix.

The Pi effect

Raspberry Pi, created by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation, is a basic computer that can be connected to a TV or monitor via HDMI. It can be used for many of the things that your desktop PC does, including office work, Internet browsing and high-definition video playback – all possible through a circuit board the size of a credit card, which costs around £25.

The device was designed primarily to get children interested in programming, and inspire a new generation of British innovators.

The Pi Store, officially launched today, currently runs on Raspbian – one of the Linux distributions developed especially for the palm-sized PC. Anyone can submit their project for moderation and release trough the new store, and this is not limited to finished apps. Binaries, raw Python code, images, audio, video and other content related to the tiny computer will all be accessible trough the new platform.

At launch, the Pi Store offers 24 free titles, including productivity suite LibreOffice, music app Despotify and open source Civilisation clone Freeciv. The only commercial piece of software, arcade game Storm In A Teacup, is currently priced at £1.99.

Even if the developers choose not to charge for their creations, the ‘tip jar’ mechanism will still enable users to express their gratitude in monetary form. Like any other major app store, the Pi Store features a review and rating system, and even a recommendation engine which is tailored to individual users, depending on the ratings they submit.

The platform will start to offer achievements and leaderboards, especially important for gaming fans, in the near future.

“We hope that the Pi Store will provide young people with a way to share their creations with a wider audience, and maybe to a make a little pocket money along the way; as well as offering commercial developers an easy way to get their software seen by the Raspberry Pi community,” says a blog post on the Raspberry Pi website.

An updated Raspbian image which includes the Pi Store is already available from the same website.

Previously, all Raspberry Pi devices were manufactured in China, but in September, a deal with Sony Technology Centre allowed the miniature computer to be made in Wales. And in October, the Foundation started offering a new raspberry Pi model with 512 MB of RAM, without any impact on pricing.

The success of the tiny board has been so universal that some companies have even started creating their own devices based on Raspberry Pi, like the EPR  appliance made by German company All for Accounting. Chris Tyler, one of the people behind Raspberry Pi Fedora Remix, predicted that the tiny computer could serve as an extra push to get the ARM-based chips into the data centre.

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