Web apps annoy me. Despite Google’s best efforts to move everything to web browsers, native applications usually provide a better experience. They come with keyboard shortcuts and integrate into the OS.
Plus, they work better with OS X’s Cmd-Tab shortcut. While Alt-Tabbing in Windows switches through individual windows, Mavericks jumps between entire apps. When you’ve got the web apps for Google Keep, Evernote, and Spotify all open in Safari, it makes switching between them less efficient.
You can’t avoid web apps either. MightyText, Grooveshark (free), and blog services like About.me are internet-only. My favorite Google Calendar interface is its web version. How do you make all these play well with native apps?
Fluid Does Desktop Apps
Enter Fluid. Fluid’s a neat little Mac app that takes any internet URL, an icon file, and turns them into an honest-to-god OS X native app.
Fluid takes almost zero effort. Just put in the URL and give it a name. I prefer to manually add icon files as well, because the icon grabber sometimes fails.
Fluid apps essentially render the given web page with the Browsa engine within the app. It uses Safari’s WebKit and other Safari processing techniques.
The free version of the app shares browsing data with Safari, although if you drop $5 for the paid version you can keep separate sets of data.
The paid version also lets you run your apps in OS X Lion full-screen mode, always useful. I ended up paying for the app in order to run MightyText in full screen and to support the developer for doing such a good job.
Your Mileage May Vary
In practice, Fluid apps perform at different levels. Some web apps lend themselves more to Fluid-ization than others.
MightyText works wonderfully. As long as the window is open or hidden, you get popups in Notification Center about new texts.
Google Calendar looks good in a Fluid app as well. You get lots of options, keyboard shortcuts, and a much-improved month view over Calendar.app.
Sadly, music browsing apps don’t integrate as well. I tried making Google Play Music into a Fluid app, and the Play/Pause key doesn’t work with it.
Speaking of Google, that lovely company has its page set up so that it’s impossible to get a working URL for Hangouts. If I could run this in a desktop window, that would be great.
The Fluid settings give plenty of options for each Fluid app which allow different web pages, app icons, window opacities, fonts, window behaviors, keyboard shortcuts, and whitelisted URL browsing.
Basically, you can change tons of little options to make your user experience just slightly better. It helps.
Fluid helps the user experience on Mac. It takes basic web apps and improves them into a more native, more fluid experience, if you will.
I’d recommend picking up the paid version, if only to run apps in full screen. It’ll make your MightyText experience that much better.