New AI-Powered Features Coming to The Arc Browser: Let AI Browse the Web for You

This week, the team behind the Arc browser for Mac (and recently Windows) introduced a new iPhone app called Arc Search. It is filled with AI to fuel a user experience where the app “browses for you,” gathering various sources of info from the internet to create a custom webpage in response to any inquiries. This is included in Act 2 of Arc, which aims to blur the boundaries between a browser, search engine, and website. The Browser Company wants to merge these elements to enhance the usefulness of the internet for users. In a promotional video, various people from The Browser Company enthusiastically discuss a browser that can browse for you (an extremely useful idea).

The Arc Search app demonstrated one application of that idea, and the next is a feature called Instant Links. When searching for something, pressing shift and enter will direct Arc to automatically search and open the top result. This may not work 100 percent of the time, but it is certainly practical in certain situations. For example, when searching for “True Detective season 4 trailer,” pressing shift + enter automatically opened the trailer from YouTube in a new tab and started playing it.

This tool can also provide multiple results. I requested “show me a folder of five different soup recipes,” and Arc created a folder with five different tabs for me to review. I also asked for forecasts in Rome, Paris, and Athens and received three pages with details for each city. It’s useful, but I hope Arc can improve it beyond simply pulling the “top” search result. (After testing this feature, my browser sidebar is filled with a variety of things. I’m thankful that Arc closes these every day so I don’t have to deal with them.)

Similarly, the upcoming Live Folders feature will compile updates from sites you want to follow, similar to an RSS feed. The feature is designed to anticipate the websites a user will browse and bring updated results into a folder. One example involved getting tagged in things on GitHub—each time that occurred, a tab would be added to the folder with the new item. This feature should be available in beta on February 15th for further testing.

Finally, the last new feature is the most ambitious and embodies the “browser that browses for you” concept. Arc Explore, which should be ready for testing in the next couple of months, uses LLMs to condense the browser, search engine, and site into one experience. In practice, this is similar to what Arc is already doing with its new browser but more advanced. One example involved making a restaurant reservation—starting with a query wanting to make a reservation at one of a couple of different restaurants, the Arc Explore interface brought back a bunch of details on each location alongside direct links to the Resy pages to book a table for two at the specified time.

Another demonstration showed how using Arc Explore can be more effective than simply searching and clicking on results. It provided details on a certain kind of soup, including ingredient lists, direct recipe steps, and related videos. Compared to the difficulty of browsing sites loaded with autoplaying ads, videos, unrelated text, and more distractions, the Arc Explore experience feels serene. Of course, this is only effective when it returns relevant results. Using an LLM, you can communicate with Arc to get closer to what you’re looking for.

After using Arc Search on my iPhone, I can appreciate what The Browser Company is aiming for. However, changing my old habits of browsing the internet is not a small task. That means these tools will need to work effectively when they launch if they’re going to replace the years I’ve spent using a Google search box to find the results I want. But that’s the philosophy behind Arc: to change these habits to create a better browsing experience. Not all of these experiments will succeed, and others will likely change a lot from these initial ideas, but I’m definitely interested in seeing how things evolve from here.

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