Turn web services into apps with Wavebox, a new type of browser

There are many web browsers and many are based on Chrome, but Wavebox is very different and it makes accessing web services and online tools much easier. It could boost your productivity.

The computer desktop has faded into the background for some people and they do most of their work on the web in a browser like Chrome. We use Microsoft services like Outlook, To-do, OneNote, Office web apps and OneDrive, or Google services like Drive, Docs, Mail, Contacts, Keep, Calendar and so on.

Then there are other online apps and services like Asana, Clickup, Wrike, Slack, Trello, Airtable to mention just a few. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of online tools and services and you probably use a few of them for your work or personal use every day.

Redesigning the web browser

Wavebox, which runs on Windows PC, Apple Mac and Linux, throws out the traditional web browser interface and has redesigned it with web apps and services in mind. There are no tabs and even no address box if you don’t want it.

If you want to browse the web in the traditional way, Wavebox lets you open a browser window and because it is Chrome based, it works just like Chrome and you can install Chrome extensions, use tabs and so on. That is not important and it is the Wavebox window where all the interesting features are to be found.

Wavebox alternative browser based on Chrome
Wavebox browser showing one of two Gmail accounts

There is a narrow sidebar on the left that is used to create groups and clicking the plus button at the bottom of the sidebar enables you to create a new group. Wavebox has over 1,200 ready-made ones in a library that you can search and add with a few clicks.

Ready-made ones have special features, so if you add Gmail for example, you also have the option to add all Google’s other services too, like Drive, Photos, Contacts, Keep, Docs and so on.

Add apps, web services and URLs to Wavebox browser

Any web URL can be added as a new group, so you could add your favorite websites and services. When the app is first run, you are prompted to add some popular groups like Gmail, LinkedIn, Outlook, Asana and so on. Each group adds an icon to the sidebar.

Sandboxed cookies

What is interesting and useful about these sidebar groups is that they sandbox cookies. By adding multiple sites or web services to a group, they can all use the same sandbox. Cookies are used by websites and services to recognize you and that is why your Gmail account appears automatically when you visit the Gmail website.

Suppose you had two Gmail accounts, like work and personal ones. In Chrome you could create two profiles and have two browser windows with each one showing a different Gmail account. It works, but it is a bit messy.

With Wavebox you create two groups in the sidebar, each with a different cookie sandbox. You can then click each one and log into each Gmail account. It is a bit like having different user profiles on different browser tabs. You can be logged into two or more accounts at the same website in different groups (sidebar icons) and switch between them with a mouse click.

Wavebox for Windows PC, Apple Mac and Linux
A group’s services or sites appear as icons across the top

It goes further than this and you can add more apps to a group. You can have the same or different collections of apps in each group. For example, you could have Gmail, Outlook, Facebook and Twitter accounts in two or more groups, each logged into separate accounts like different customers or clients that you manage, or you could have personal and work groups.

Select a group and the contents of the group, the websites and web apps, appear as icons across the top of the window and you can switch between them with a mouse click.

A new, better way of working

I must admit that I did not like Wavebox for the first couple of hours because it is confusing if you have never seen it before, but once you realize how it works, it is actually quite good.

People that work with multiple social accounts like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others, will love it. You just create a group for each login and you can switch between accounts as easy as you would switch tabs in a browser.

Wavebox can give a cleaner view of the web than a browser
Wavebox makes websites look like apps

Wavebox can provide a cleaner view of the web page or service. The address bar can be hidden and the icon bar at the top with all the apps in the group can be hidden. With just a small bar at the top of the window, there is less clutter and more screen space for the website or web app.

There are some built in teamwork features and you can create a team by inviting other users and connect with them for chat, calls, video meetings and screen sharing.

Final thoughts

Wavebox is confusing and hard to understand at first. There are plenty of help guides and tips at the website and some videos, but I still could not understand it for a while. It took an hour or two to get to grips with just the basic features.

Once you understand how it works and what it does, you can see lots of possibilities for streamlining your work and it is especially useful if you use multiple accounts with various services for yourself, clients or customers.

The software can be downloaded for free, a Wavebox account can be created for free and you can use all the features for free for 7 days. If you do not purchase a subscription, which is US $8.32 or UK £8.28 a month, your account reverts to a basic free one and you can continue to use it for free, with limited features.

A free account lets you add two Gmail accounts. You can add sites manually and use the browser, but you don’t get extras that the 1,200+ ready-made apps and services provide. It is still useful in free mode, but is better with a subscription.

It is good, but it costs a bit more than I am prepared to pay for what is, after all, just a web browser. I do recommend that you try it for free and see for yourself though.

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