The Browser Company’s Chromium-based Arc browser “isn’t perfect and takes some getting used to,” writes The Verge. “But it’s full of great new ideas about how we should interact with the web, and it’s right about most of them.”
Arc wants to be the operating system of the web. So he built a set of tools that make it easier to control apps and content, turned tabs and bookmarks into something more like an app launcher, and built a few platform-level apps. The app is much more opinionated and much more complicated than your average browser with its row of equal tabs across the top of the screen. Another way to think of it is that Arc treats the web the way TikTok treats video: not as a fixed thing to consume, but as an infinitely remixable set of components that you can take apart, play with, and use to create something the your. Want something to look better or have an idea what to do with it? Just do it.
This is a fun time 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 clever features; SigmaOS also bets on browsers as operating systems; Brave has smart ideas about privacy; Edge and Firefox are also improving rapidly. But Arc is the biggest swing of all: an attempt not only to improve the browser, but also to completely reinvent it…
At the moment, Arc is only available for Mac, but the company said it’s also working on Windows and mobile versions, both expected for next year. It’s still in a waiting-listed beta, and it’s still a beta app, with some core features missing, other features still evolving, and some deeply annoying bugs. But Arc’s big ideas are the right ones. I don’t know if The Browser Company is ready to take on the giants and win the next generation of browser wars, but I bet the future of browsers will look a lot like Arc…
In some ways, Arc is more like ChromeOS than Chrome. Seek to expand 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 tool for power users with a vertical sidebar that combines bookmarks, tabs and apps. (And apparently sets of these can be combined into different “spaces”.) These are enhanced with a large 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 and collaborative whiteboard app “Easel.” And it also offers powerful features like the ability to rewrite the way your browser displays the CSS of any site. (“I have one that removes the trending sidebar from Twitter and another that cleans up my Gmail page.”)