Hands-on with Raven, an app-centric Web browser for OS X

ravenThe choice between Chrome, Firefox and Safari just got a little tougher. A new OS-X-exclusive browser dubbed Raven takes the world of apps and brings them to the Web without sacrificing the style and simplicity the Apple operating system is known for.

User interface

raven home

Given that Raven was designed specifically for the Mac operating system, it should come as no surprise that its user interface bears a striking resemblance to all things Mac. You have your dock (albeit it to the left hand side) in a black panel, and this houses your applications. The overall design is minimalistic and stylish.

To navigate raven, you can choose to use the browser’s apps, or take the traditional route via the Web in its basic form. The omnibox is a sparse strip across the top of the page, which strangely houses Raven’s navigation tools. On the right hand side, you can find the tools to refresh, add a tab, star, bookmark, or return to the home page. All pretty standard fare.

You also have the option to turn your entire screen over to Raven, and given this browser’s focus on apps and appearance, we can see how it wants to be the destination for much of your activity. Give it a strengthened app store with more production-oriented tools, and lightweight work could definitely be accomplished within Raven.


raven apps

Being in beta means that there isn’t a terribly large inventory of apps to play with, but Raven does a admirable job bringing users some key choices. The default applications of choice like Facebook, Twitter, CNN, the New York Times, Delicious, YouTube, and Flickr are all there, as are noteworthy additions like Vimeo, Hulu Plus, and Quora.

Raven takes on a desktop-like attitude, particularly with the social applications and those that require or cater to user interaction. Ubuntu and Apple users will appreciate the seamless experience of moving between installed software and the Web. The left-hand side panel holds all of your chosen apps, as well as navigation icons. Selecting an app then brings up your options for in-site actions. 

For example, opening Twitter via the Raven app pulls up your command options for the site on that left-hand panel, placing them below the Twitter icon. Users can refer almost entirely to the left-hand panel once they’re inside an application.

raven screenshotApps like CNN pull up video or breaking news options (CNN specifically has its iReport feature installed). So while your instinct might be to use CNN’s default navigations, there are benefits for more consumption-based Websites as well.


Generally, working with Raven is a pleasure. It’s stupid-simple to orient yourself with all of the navigation commands, and installing and using apps is quick and easy. Switching between apps and the native Web was seamless, an upgrade from Chrome’s Web Store experience in our opinion. There was less of a “marketplace” feel to installing apps, and they were deposited into the sidebar automatically instead of via a dedicated page. It’s a small difference, indistinct to some, but Web apps themselves are some sort of compromise between bookmarks and desktop software, and this felt like a more natural choice.

The app organization could bear an upgrade, however. We’d love it if Raven would offer infinite scrolling for the left-hand sidebar so you can automatically paw through your apps instead of selecting the gear icon at the bottom to determine if they get to sit in one of the 12 coveted spots. Either that, or shrinking icon size based on how many you install, so you can view them all at once. As it stands, you can manually indicate your apps status by pressing the gear in the bottom left-hand corner.

app organization


Our only major complaint is that we wish Raven weren’t a Mac-specific browser. It’s not as fast as browser dominators like Chrome and Firefox, but we like how it toes the line between app-dependent and Web-enabled. Raven has its early kinks to work out, but given the thinning line between the Web and the desktop, this is a visually interesting and intuitive solution to closing that gap a little more. 


Pocket transforms articles into podcasts with an assist from Amazon

Read-it-later app Pocket is adding an option to turn articles into easily navigable podcasts with its new app redesign for iOS and Android. The feature relies on Amazon's voice-to-text service Polly.

Here's how to download a YouTube video to watch offline later

Learning how to download YouTube videos is easier than you might think. There are plenty of great tools you can use, both online and offline. These are our favorites and a step by step guide on how to use them.
Home Theater

Looking to cut cable? Here’s everything you need to know about Pluto TV

Pluto TV offers plenty of entertainment in a fashion similar to live internet TV services, only at no cost — you don’t even need to register. Too good to be true? Here’s everything you need to know.
Home Theater

PlayStation Vue: The master guide to Sony’s internet TV service

PlayStation Vue is Sony's answer to live TV without the need for a cable or satellite TV subscription. To help you understand the service, its plans, and numerous features, we've created this handy guide.

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.

Save up to $1,000 with the best smartphone deals for October 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $1,000.

Preapproval for iPhone Upgrade Program now available for iPhone XR

Apple took the wraps off of its new set of iPhones, including the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and the new iPhone XR. The iPhone XR is being offered as the "affordable" iPhone, and it's a little different than the more expensive models.

Put your iPad Pro to the test with these great games

Did you recently purchase a 10.5-inch iPad Pro, or are you enjoying the 12.9-inch version? If so, we've rounded up a few of the best iPad Pro games currently available on Apple's mobile platform.

Got gadgets galore? Keep them charged up with the 10 best USB-C cables

If you weren't already aware, USB-C is quickly becoming mainstream. That's why we've rounded up some of the better USB-C cables on the market, whether you're looking to charge or sync your smartphone.

How to protect your iCloud account

From Chinese hacking to identity theft, it's not surprising if you're a little worried about your iCloud data. Here's how to protect your iCloud account with a few simple security steps. It will only take a few minutes, and we'll walk you…

Upcoming iPad may lose a few millimeters, along with its headphone jack

The new iPhone XS, iPhone XR, and Apple Watch aren't the last devices we'll see from Apple in 2018. There are plenty of rumors about a new iPad coming this year too, and it may share some design similarities with the new phones.

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

To try and help nail down the best 15-inch laptops in the world, we compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15 in a head to head that looked at their power, design, and portability.

Google Pixel 3 vs. Apple iPhone XS: Does Google’s A.I. take down Apple?

The Google Pixel 3 is here, boasting top-tier specs like a Qualcomm Snapdragon 845 and 4GB of RAM, and some of the world's best artificial intelligence features on a phone. But can it take out the Apple iPhone XS?

Hinge's new feature wants to know who you've gone out on dates with

With its new "We Met" feature, Hinge wants to learn how your dates are going with matches in its app. That way, it can inject the information into its algorithm to provide future recommendations that better suit its users' preferences.