The Browser Company has been hard at work on their Arc Browser. While they've been dangling the news that big things are on their way (and I'm super excited about that), something huge has already arrived.
Arc has a new browser for iOS that's "a web browser, a search engine, and an AI chatbot" all rolled into one. Currently being called Arc Search, it's different from the Arc mobile companion app (now pulled from the App Store) that offered you a way to get your tabs from the Arc Browser on Mac on mobile and not much else.
Down the line, Arc Search would simply become Arc and there will be only one mobile app for everything Arc that'll include sync as well. So, let's see what the ruckus is all about.
What is Arc Search?
Arc Search is an innovative application that combines the functionality of a web browser with an AI-powered search engine and chatbot. It represents a paradigm shift in how we might perceive and use search engines and web browsers going forward.
Unlike conventional search engines that provide a list of links, Arc Search can create a personalized webpage for each query, integrating data from various sources with its Browse for Me feature, which has become the highlight of the app for most users.
Other features that breathe life into this app include:
- Auto-up keyboard: The Keyboard pops up automatically when you open the browser so you can search faster, much like the Command Bar from the desktop counterpart.
- Auto-archive tabs: One of the most popular features of this cult browser is now available on mobile too, which means no more clutter and a tidy browsing experience. The browser will automatically archive (close) inactive tabs after a set amount of time (by default, 1 day).
- Automatic blocking for ads, trackers, and cookie banners, which results in faster load times.
- Tab switcher that mimics the app switcher in iOS.
- Reader Mode for distraction-free reading.
- Access to archived tabs, whether they were auto-archived or manually closed.
There's also no 'New Tab' page – a signature move for the Arc Browser.
While the Arc Search app is in the early days, which does not support features like sync, spaces and themes, pinned tabs, or other AI features that we've come to expect from the Arc Browser, it's a promising start. And it's probably best to start things simple to avoid the steep learning curve that comes with the desktop app. Hopefully, The Browser Company will expand the platforms that the app supports in the future, but it's currently iOS only.
How Does It Work?
In addition to searching traditionally in Arc Search, where the search engine of your choice returns search results for you that you have to browse, the Browse for Me feature, when invoked by tapping on the button, creates a new web page for you (that reminds you of an Easel) after browsing the web and curating relevant information using AI.
It uses a mix of AI technologies from OpenAI and other LLM models to power this feature. (Since it's powered by AI, there can be mistakes.)
You can search for anything, from something as simple as celebrity gossip to complex topics like Quantum physics, and you'll get a custom website with not just information and summaries but images and references to get you the information you want. It also lists top search results and further links for a deeper dive.
These 'websites' will be accessible just like your normal tabs had you searched for the information using traditional search. So, it's much more than simply chatting with an AI bot. The whole concept is pretty neat! Well, revolutionary, to be honest.
Arc Search represents an exciting new approach to web browsing and searching that leverages AI and natural language processing to create personalized experiences for users. It gives a glimpse of what the future of browsing could be – one where an AI assistant takes a more active role in finding and presenting content. While still early in development, the app shows great promise in reimagining how we discover and consume information online.