The Raven Browser: Web Apps for Your Mac
Most people don’t change their browsers much… but you might want to pay attention to this one.
Your Web browser is probably the most important software you use, but I bet you haven’t given it a second thought in years. That’s because the Web is open-ended, and most sites and web apps look and function (mostly) the same on any browser you use. (This is a good thing.)
So, some of us prefer Firefox, some Safari, some Chrome. (My vote’s with Chrome.) And, of course, some of you out there are on Internet Explorer– a problem you can easily fix right now.
New Web Browser Brings Apps to the Desktop
Raven is a brand-new kind of browser, designed for the Web we live in today– not the one from 3-5 years ago. Today’s Web is all about apps, whether you’re using Amazon, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, or Google+.
Think of it this way: any time you log in to a site to access your personal “stuff” there (messages, wishlist, entries, or notes), you’re using an “app”. Raven turns all those apps into a fun and intuitive way to look at the Web.
Raven’s scrolling “Dock” on the left side features large site icons that act a little like folders. They look like the Twitter app for iPad. When you open one, you see set of icons that point to different parts of the site, or related ones. It’s easier to show this than to explain it. Here, we see got shortcuts to my Flickr homepage, the Organize tab, Explore, and Upload. Nifty, huh?
These “App Tabs” Just Might Stick Around
Sure, you could click around within the site to get to all those places–but it’s great to have them all together in one place like this. That’s one of the reasons why app-based operating systems, like iOS and Chrome OS, work so well.
Raven’s even got a few tricks up its sleeve for sites that you wouldn’t think of as “apps”. Take Daring Fireball, for example. The DF “app/tab” puts you one click away from Gruber’s twitter feed, DF’s podcasts, and the site archives.
Better Bookmarking / Insta-Instapaper
Raven also makes a fantastic contribution to the process of bookmarking, which has turned into a mess just about any way you approach it. When you opt to save a page, it asks you whether you want to “bookmark” or “favorite” it. A Favorite, the dialog explains, is a site you use frequently, while bookmarks are articles, pages, or things you want to save for a while. Depending on which you choose, it either becomes a “local” bookmark (err, “favorite”), or goes straight to Instapaper. Yes, it’s that easy. (Now just give us support for Delicious!)
Overall, Raven is a novel concept, and its implementation is solid. Under the hood, Raven uses WebKit as its rendering engine, so (in theory) it should display things as well as Safari.
Unfortunately, it’s super-buggy and crashes about every 30 seconds. Sorry, did I ruin it for you? That’s OK – I’m sure it will get better. For now, it’s an addictive little app with some serious kinks.
Raven is 100% free, Mac-only, and available for download here.