Back during the days of AOL Instant Messenger, MSN, and the earliest days of Facebook Messenger and Google Talk, there was a browser-based messaging service called Meebo that brought all those disparate accounts together. Even your few assorted friends who insisted on using Yahoo! Messenger were included, giving you one place where you could reach all of your friends, instead of having all those messaging apps running in the background.
Most of those messaging services have faded into history, including Meebo, which was acquired by Google a few years back. But, there are no fewer messaging apps today than there were back then — Google Talk is now Hangouts and Facebook Messenger is still rolling, but they’ve been joined by WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, Skype, Viber, Line, and who knows how many others. In other words, we need a new Meebo — an app to unify all those accounts in a streamlined way. We may have one in Franz.
Franz is a new app for Mac and, eventually, for Windows that does exactly what Meebo used to do, but possibly even better. Not only can you add several different messaging accounts to this one dashboard, multiple accounts from one service can be added separately — if you have a separate Facebook account for yourself and your company, you can add and manage both of those within Franz. Each service or account is listed as a tab on top of the dashboard, along with a number indicating new messages.
Right now, Franz supports Slack, WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, Messenger, Grape, HipChat, and Hangouts — Line and Viber are the two most noticeable omissions (feasible ones, anyway — don’t know how realistic iMessage would be), but if WhatsApp is on there, our fingers are crossed that they’ll be added in the future. Franz is currently only available as a Mac app and in beta for Windows. It’s a little disappointing that it isn’t on mobile, either, although Franz’ current tabbed UI is much better suited to the desktop — it’ll take some considerable tinkering to get a working mobile UI that can boast the same ease of use. Fortunately, with over 10,000 users added within its first month, it looks like Franz is only getting started.