The Browser Company’s Chromium-based Arc browser “isn’t perfect, and it takes some getting used to,” writes The Verge. “But it’s full of big new ideas about how we should be using the Internet — and it’s right with most of them.”
Arc wants to be the operating system of the web. So it built a bunch of tools that make it easier to manage apps and content, turned tabs and bookmarks into something more like an app launcher, and built a few cross-platform apps of its own. The app is much more quirky and much more complicated than the average browser with its row of the same tabs at the top of the screen. Another way to think about it is that Arc treats the web the way TikTok treats video: not as a fixed thing that you can consume, but as a series of endlessly remixable components that you can take apart, play with and use to create something. to make of. Your own. Do you want something to look better or do you have an idea what you can do with it? Go for it.
This is a fun moment in the web browser industry. After more than a decade of total Chrome dominance, users are looking elsewhere for more features, more privacy, and a better user interface. Vivaldi has some really smart features; SigmaOS also bets on browsers as operating systems; Brave has smart ideas about privacy; even Edge and Firefox are getting better soon. But Arc is the biggest swing of all: an attempt not just to improve the browser, but to reinvent it from scratch….
At the moment, Arc is only available for the Mac, but the company has said it’s also working on Windows and mobile versions, both coming next year. It is still in a beta on the waiting list and is still a beta app, with some basic features missing, other features still in flux, and a few very annoying bugs. But Arc’s big ideas are the right ones. I don’t know if The Browser Company is ready to take on giants and win the next generation of browser wars, but I bet the future of browsers looks a lot like Arc…
In a way, Arc is more like ChromeOS than Chrome. It tries to extend the browser to become the only app you need, because in a world where all your apps are web apps and all your files are URLs, who really needs more than a browser?
The article describes Arc as a powerful user tool with a vertical sidebar that combines bookmarks, tabs, and apps. (And sets of these can apparently be combined into different “rooms”.) These have been enhanced with a hefty set of keyboard shortcuts (including tab search), along with built-in media controls for Twitch/Spotify/Google Meet (as well as a picture-in-picture mode).
BR. Arc even has a shareable, collaborative whiteboard app called “Easel”. And it also offers powerful features, such as the ability to rewrite how your browser displays a site’s CSS. (“I have one that removes Twitter’s Trending sidebar and another that cleans up my Gmail page.”)