Nuvola Player, now Nuvola Apps Runtime is a project aiming at providing well integrated web apps into the Linux desktop experience. Nuvola offers separate players for all popular music streaming services and they have started looking into supporting other apps like Google Calendar. For the sake of this review, I installed their Deezer App. All their apps are provided as Flatpaks, so I had to enable the Flathub repository on my Fedora 32 system and then enable the Nuvola apps repository. Once done, you can search your Gnome software center for Nuvola and will be presented with all the available apps.
Now, being web apps and packaged into flatpaks that means these are no small packages. The store states the app is a 1GB download, while the installed app is around 250MB in size. A bit steep for streaming music. However, if I compare it to my Deezer Chromium web app that I usually use, it appears the Nuvola app requires less ram when running: ~300mb vs 500mb.
The app integrates nicely into any Gnome based desktop as it uses the Adwaita GTK theme by default. In the preferences, you can choose between light or dark themes. Upon launch it always reverts back into the light theme but the moment you click on preferences it goes back to the previously selected dark theme – a minor bug.
What makes Nuvola interesting is it’s full desktop integration. Once installed, it launches like any other desktop app and you could pin it to your dock for quick access. It supports media keys on your keyboard, virtual keys in Gnome, Unity and elementary OS as well as desktop notifications (optional). It plays in the background, so there is no interruption even if when minimized or your screen is locked. The app can also connect to Last.fm and Libre.fm accounts for audio scrobbling as well as fetch song lyrics if you so wish.
If you were thinking: “Cool! Another nice free Linux app”, I’ll have to disappoint you! While a very basic version is free to use, the fully featured version has a “pay what you wish” price. The lowest amount you can enter is $2 of which Nuvola says they get to keep 1.50. These are yearly subscription rates and they explain on their website why they need to generate a little income. They need to buy subscriptions to some of the available services so they can test and squash bugs and they need a VPN service to access some apps with geographic restrictions. Plus the usual expenses associated with a domain and hosting. Cannot really argue with that.
If you want to give it a try, head to their web site for full instructions. Premium features are automatically enabled during the first month so you have enough time to test it out.
Let me know what you think!