Categories: world

Flotato is a wildly smart way to get web apps on your Mac

I've played with a new Mac app called Flotato, and it's so much fun and smart in the way it works like I wanted to share it. Flotato is a way to make small (or large) app windows for apps that you normally use in a web browser tab. It is easy and easy to use when you put your head around it, but it takes a bit to understand because it works differently than you probably usually do. It's a pretty good chance that a significant portion of the calculation you make on your Mac happens within web apps, probably in tabs. Tabs are good, but they are also the worst. Operating systems have spent 30 years creating user interfaces that make it easier to start and switch between apps, but much of the effort has been wasted. Apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, Asana, Twitter, Feedly and a lot of others may be lost in small pinned tabs. The trick is to take these web apps and break them into independent windows, as if customized browsers for just one app. There have been many solutions for it over the years, including Fluid if you want to roll your own or Electron if a developer just wants to package everything that happens to you. But there are problems with these solutions. In particular, Elektron has become the source of ire, as it can add a lot of extra costs beyond what a simple browser tab would do. Now there is…

I’ve played with a new Mac app called Flotato, and it’s so much fun and smart in the way it works like I wanted to share it. Flotato is a way to make small (or large) app windows for apps that you normally use in a web browser tab. It is easy and easy to use when you put your head around it, but it takes a bit to understand because it works differently than you probably usually do.

It’s a pretty good chance that a significant portion of the calculation you make on your Mac happens within web apps, probably in tabs. Tabs are good, but they are also the worst. Operating systems have spent 30 years creating user interfaces that make it easier to start and switch between apps, but much of the effort has been wasted. Apps like Gmail, Google Calendar, Asana, Twitter, Feedly and a lot of others may be lost in small pinned tabs.

The trick is to take these web apps and break them into independent windows, as if customized browsers for just one app. There have been many solutions for it over the years, including Fluid if you want to roll your own or Electron if a developer just wants to package everything that happens to you. But there are problems with these solutions. In particular, Elektron has become the source of ire, as it can add a lot of extra costs beyond what a simple browser tab would do.

Now there is a new solution called Flotato. It does about the same as the other programs, giving you a separate app window for each web app you want to use. But Flotato’s approach is so innovative and ingenious, I think it’s worth a shot, even though it’s still early in its development.


When you start Flotato, it displays a number of possible web apps with a small button that says “get.” When you click this button, Flotato creates an app for that thing in the Applications folder. You open it, it opens the web app you chose and you log in. It’s simple enough, but what it really does is kind of amazing.

To create a new Flotato app, literally copy the Flotato app in Mac Finder and rename that copy. So instead of using Flotato’s launcher you can just create your own. When you open the app you renamed, Flotato takes a guess on which web page you want to open based on the app’s name, and it opens it. (You can manually set up the settings if you need to.) It’s just a super smart way to create new web apps, and it’s much easier than other methods.

It also does some very nice things with the icons. First, it automatically sets the icon to something that suits each app, often a high-resolution icon. For some apps, it can automatically add unread messages. Google Calendar is transitioning to today’s date. If you want, you can set the app’s icon to be a live look at a custom web page clip (eg, keeping track of a stock or web traffic or something, this number may be visible in your dock). [19659008] Flotato windows are deliberately chrome-free – and I mean it in both literal and metaphorical ways.

Literally there is no UI chrome. Even the small stop light buttons are hidden by default. This makes the appliance look as if they are floating (hence the name). You can set it up to request desktop or mobile versions of a web app, allowing you to have really small, narrow windows for some apps if you want.

Metaphorically using Flotato Mac’s built-in WebKit engine, so in theory it should be much less cumbersome on your processor and RAM than Electron apps or in some cases Chrome tabs. There are some extra software pads on top of just using the OS’s rendering engine, but it’s still much easier than Electron. Flotato’s developer Morten Just tells me that it is faster because there are no plugins, no bundled browser, no javascript bridges, no bookmark background synchronization, just a Webkit 2 web view with the out-of -the-way customizations. “

Anecdotal tests show that” Flotato for Twitter [uses] only 10% of Chrome’s memory usage runs the same app “, and apps like Trello can be much smaller in size. Just tell me that in some cases Flotato also uses The mobile version of the pages, which can also reduce the use of resources. My own anecdote test shows that Slack uses about half as much RAM in a Flotato window as it does in its Electron app.

As I mentioned, Flotato is quite early in I use several Google Accounts, and the interaction between Flotato’s attempts to automatically set the URL of the app name and its cookie structure has caused some headache for me, so, for example, I can’t sign in to Feedly because it uses my personal Gmail for authentication while other Flotato apps use my work Gmail

Recently, Chrome on Mac took back the ability to create a “shortcut” for a web ida or web app that can be opened as a “separate window”. It allows you to take the web apps you have in a tab and make them a separate “app” on your Mac. You can find it under the menu with three items under “More tools”.

I’ve used these Chrome apps a lot, but while they’re practical, it’s debatable if they’re really easier than Electron apps. I have not tested Flotato to see if I want to make it my main way of using web apps. But after using it for a couple of weeks I can see its potential.

Flotato is free if you create some apps, then it’s $ 14.99 for a pro version that allows unlimited apps. If you have a lot of things buried in tabs, it’s worth a quick look – if only because it’s super fun to play with.

Share
Published by
Faela