The Battle Of The AIO Apps: Franz Vs. Rambox Review

8:24 PM

AIO apps aren't a new concept, really. They've existed for almost as long as messengers themselves have existed. End-users frequently end up with different friends on different networks. It can become burdensome to run so many apps, as they can and often will significantly impact the performance of the operating system being used. Especially since so many messaging apps like to include all the bells and whistles their end-users want, with a few extras tossed in just for good measure.

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When Franz and Rambox are placed side by side, who wins?

I have a slightly bigger problem though than just system resources. Many important mainstream apps have little to no support on Linux, as well. Sure, you can use browser plugins for them, but then you a. have to always open your browser just to get to the web apps and b. now instead of eating up your operating system's resources, they're hogging your browser's resources. And who really wants to have to keep multiple tabs running in their browser just to have access to their web apps?

*I raise my hand*

The Need For AIO Apps

So, by now you're probably a bit curious as to what apps I have been trying to obtain desktop versions of. Here's the shortlist:

  • Google Keep & Calendar
  • Google Hangouts
  • Google Voice
  • Skype
  • MySMS (syncs SMS messages on phone with the web so you can receive and send SMS messages on your desktop without having to touch your phone)
  • WhatsApp
  • Telegram
  • Facebook Page Manager
  • And the list goes on...

You see, the problem with me hasn't been nothing but a lack of desktop applications to accompany these services. Even if every one of these services had a Linux-ready desktop app, the system resource usage to run all of them as separate apps would be quite ridiculous.

This is why I was quite hopeful when I stumbled upon Franz and Rambox. Both apps seemed like they could potentially be the answer to my prayers. And indeed, something striking about these separate application projects is that they mirror each other quite a bit through their front-facing UI navigation. That's about where the similarities end, however.

Franz Review

Franz has a very simple UI, which can be switched between light and dark modes. To the left is a sidebar that lists icons for each active account. At the bottom of that, you can find the settings, which you can use to add, edit, or delete active accounts.

There's a large variety of services available for you to add to Franz's control panel, and every service is available to free users as long as they are willing to sit through a small delay. The delay is to encourage you to subscribe to get it removed. The basic subscription service costs around $4 US a month, and there's a one-year subscription available which cuts the cost down to about $3 US a month. There are professional licenses available, too.

I have been pretty satisfied with the selection of services available through Franz. Even though there are not as many services in Franz as there are in Rambox, Franz seems to have focused on the most likely services their customers will want to access. This makes it a bit less overwhelming when getting started on picking services.

The Franz app itself is rock-solid. I have yet to see it freeze, shutdown, or have any other problems during the past 6 months that I've been using it. It also uses fewer system resources than Rambox.

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Here is a small sample of some of the services Franz has to offer.

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Franz's minimalistic GUI hides its workspaces behind a button which pulls out a popup slide.

Rambox Review

While Franz goes for a classic, formal appearance, Rambox aims for a more eyecatching appearance with their AIO app, which is sure to appeal to a younger audience. The one major feature that sets Rambox apart from Franz is their selection of services you can add to your account. In this regard, Rambox doesn't play. They do however primarily focus on business services, while Franz is more generalized with their selection of services available.

The free version of Rambox limits users to 99 available services and doesn't include certain key features such as spell-checking. Rambox Pro, however, can be had for around the same pricing as Franz.

Rambox is pretty much an overall beast in comparison to Franz. It even uses more system resources than Franz, which may bring some older systems to their knees. However, in exchange for this, you get a sleek and sharp looking AIO app that is snappy and full of features that enable you to fine-tune how you use your listed services.

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Here is a screenshot showing Rambox's overall layout, as well as a sampling of the services Rambox has to offer.


What Franz and Rambox Share 

Both AIO apps also enable the use of workspaces, which allow the user to set up different groups of apps for different environments, such as work, school, home, etc. Rambox makes this feature quite obvious and upfront: upon starting Rambox the first time, it will require you setting up your first workspace. Franz is a little more flexible and makes no mention of workspaces unless you look in its settings. Once you have created a workspace with Franz, then and only then will you see your services divided into groups. Some other features that Franz and Rambox have in common are similar UI designs and navigation, native spellchecking, highly similar selections of services, and user accounts to help you save your specific configurations.

Franz and Rambox may appear to be the same, but under their hoods, it becomes apparent that they are targeting different types of markets. Rambox is targeted towards younger professionals and casual youth, while Franz centers on older professionals and layman type users who may not value bells and whistles over sensibility and stability.

Where To Download Franz and/or Rambox

You should always start by checking the repositories of your Linux distribution or the app store in your operating system before trying to install an application by any other means.

You can download Franz directly from their website. There are versions available for Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows. For Linux, you get a choice between a deb package and an app image. Franz is also included in Ubuntu's repositories, so if you want to, you can download it directly through apt.

You can download Rambox from here. It's compatible with Linux, Mac OSX, and Windows. On Linux, you can easily install Rambox through Snap as long as you have it installed on your system.

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  1. nice post Sora. I particularly didn't know either application. Thank you.