Just a few days after releasing an AI-powered mobile app called Arc Search, The Browser Company is also making some big (and obviously AI-powered) changes to its desktop browser.
Unlike Arc Search, which is essentially a total rethinking of the way you use the Internet on your phone, the new things in Arc for Mac and Windows are simpler and more practical. They turn searches into bookmarks without the need for a Google page, and they keep you informed about the things you care about without the need for another app. In the world of Arc, it’s all about the web browser.
For example, the new ‘Instant Links’ feature is a way to use AI to skip a search engine: if you’re looking for something specific, like that epic ‘Blank Space’ performance from Taylor Swift’s Sydney stop during the 1989 World Tour, you can just ask Arc’s AI bot for it, and it will dump that link as an open tab in your sidebar. The Browser Company also suggests collecting some product reviews for comparison, or some good-sounding recipes. Every time you go to Google and click on the first eight links, Arc can just dump those links into your tab bar.
A similar feature, called Live Folders, is also coming to Arc in beta in a few weeks. Live Folders are essentially a data stream that updates live wherever you want. An RSS feed can add new articles to your reading list every time it updates, and you can get a new tab every time your favorite creator posts a new video, that sort of thing.
The idea, says Josh Miller, CEO of The Browser Company, is to simplify some of the many steps involved in using the Internet. “When you set up a Google Alert,” he says, “you get an email, click something, switch apps… just to open a link in your browser. Why didn’t we just open the link in the browser for you?’ Like the experimental Arc Max features the company rolled out a few months ago, he says the goal is to make the web a little faster, a little more intuitive, and a little more useful than just an app with a bunch of tabs.
Arc Explore, a desktop version of Arc Search’s ‘browse for me’ feature that creates a customized web page with AI-generated information on any topic you search, is by far the most ambitious thing The Browser Company is working on. The other features are practical and clear, and you can use them or ignore them. But Explore has implications that extend far beyond your browser.
“We’re dealing with a revolution in the way software works and computers work, and that’s going to shake things up.”
The Browser Company calls Arc Explore “a tool for automating a surfing journey from start to finish,” promising that you can ask for information on any topic or question and Arc will scour the web and use AI to create a generate a summary with links and information. That’s good for Arc, and maybe even good for users, but what does it mean for the Internet as a whole? Miller agrees that this is a big shift, but doesn’t seem concerned about what it might mean. “We’re grappling with a technology, and we’re grappling with a revolution in the way software works and computers work, and that’s going to mess things up,” he says. “But I think it will be more positive than negative.” (Miller and I recently talked about this for next Tuesday’s episode The Vergecast – available wherever you get your podcasts!)
All of these changes are part of what The Browser Company calls the “Second Act” for Arc, as the company focuses more on AI. Frankly, every browser is shifting to focus more on AI: Edge is all-in on Copilot, Chrome is getting some tab management features similar to what Arc is launching, and Opera and others are betting that AI will be the future of web is and the browser is the future of AI. The AI browser wars are here, they are moving fast and there is no telling how they will change the way the internet works.