Franz review: the messaging software that deluded and disappointed me

If from mobile we have all resigned ourselves to the idea of ​​having a different app for every messaging service of our life, via desktop things are not that linear. Between standalone programs, alternative clients and web services, there is often much more choice and flexibility than a smartphone, but even more confusion and inefficiency. In this landscape of chaos and "despair" (at least for people like me, who would like a way to easily switch from one service to another, smoothly and effortlessly), the Austrian appeared Franz. A program apparently capable of solving all my "problems", which raised my hopes and in the end managed ... to disappoint me incredibly. But let's start from the beginning.

READ ALSO: Facebook wants to combine messages from Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp

Everyone aboard Franz

The installed services are shown in a sidebar (1). By selecting a service, it will open in the main application screen (2)

Franz is software available for Windows, MacLinux which integrates many messaging applications, from the most common to the most particular ones. WhatsappTelegramFacebook MessengerSlack, but also Workplace di FacebookHangoutsDiscordSkype. Moreover, there are also programs that are not strictly messaging, such as email clients (Gmail, Outlook), social (LinkedIn, Twitter) and many more.

For each installed service, you can set a custom icon, decide whether to temporarily disable it and manage notifications. And here we find the first of a whole series of problems: it is not possible to selectively mute the audio of the notifications with respect to the audio of the service itself. This means that it is not possible to choose to disable the "noisy" component of the notifications without giving up hearing voice and audio files. But let's go beyond this defect for now, on which you could pass over by enabling the audio to the services but changing the sound of Franz's notifications at the system level.

The software offers some additional features for users who choose to pay 4€ per month or 36€ per year, thus becoming 'Supporter'. Specifically we have:

  • application support custom Additional
  • the ability to use proxy spell checkers
  • No advertising
  • i workspace, or the possibility of aggregating services based on their use (Private life, Work, Hobbies, etc etc ...) to avoid overlap and improve productivity

However, free users are not only excluded from these additional features, but, in a similar way to Spotify free, they also have a handicap, namely the temporary suspension of the software. From time to time, especially when switching from another program to Franz after a certain period of time, the latter will make us wait about ten seconds before being able to use any service, inviting us to switch to the 'premium' version. An understandable feature, given that licenses are the only revenue of the company, but certainly very irritating, especially if we have to respond quickly to a message.

A good cover does not save a bad book

Despite the shortcomings just seen, overall the program would also be well built and easily customizable, with the code partially available GitHub, an active community behind it and a cost, if you were interested in premium features, all in all contained. The problem, however, is precisely the services offered, the heart of the application around which everything should be built.

Telegram on Franz: why is the space to type so small?

The clients present, in fact, in the best cases are simply the web version of the service integrated by force with the rest of the software. This is the case with Telegram, where many of the customization options found in the desktop version are missing, including attachment storage options and the night mode.

In the worst cases, however, the service is simply a website, no different from using the browser directly. For example, the Pages Manager di Facebook is a navigation window open on the social network, from which we can manage our profile, but with no advantage (and indeed some inconvenience) compared to doing it from the browser.

Some clients are even worse than their web counterpart: for example Skype, which via the browser is now quite complete and with little to envy compared to the desktop version, on Franz allows you to write in chats, but not to make calls or video calls, literally the main purpose of the service.

Franz does not even solve the consumption problem, typical of keeping many applications open together with the browser. In fact, it does not replace the latter, which we will use anyway for most of the time, and has a comparable impact on the battery, moreover launching itself when the computer starts and remaining open in the background unless it is forcibly closed during periods of non-use. .

There are no shortcuts

And therefore, must we give up the utopia of a single program capable of containing all the others? The answer is not that simple, but surely the solution is not Franz. There compactness and the possibility of passing smoothly from one service to another is not worth the renunciation of many features, so serious in some cases as to force us to use the service in question separately.

For most people, then, a program that contains all the others already exists, and it is the browser: most of the services now offer a web version, which is also capable of sending its notifications. For those who still dream of a separate program from the browser, with some features aimed at increasing productivity and reducing distractions, there are other programs similar to Franz, such as Rambox e Station, which we will certainly try in the future and of which we will let you know our opinion.

The golden rule, however, is to try the various options on your own, to find the one that works best for your type of workflow and best suits your needs. So experiment without fear and look for the best solution for you, but we doubt you will find it in Franz.

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