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Can AI help Arc browser take on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge?

Can AI help Arc browser take on Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge?

If you’re in the market for a new state-of-the-art browser to replace Google Chrome, then you’re in luck: The Browser Company is bringing out the Windows version of their new browser, Arc, towards the end of 2023. The company says that it can bring you “a more personal internet” and a calmer online experience, which is certainly a bold proposal. 

The browser comes with AI features known as Arc Max, which will be powered by the AI models of OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 and Anthropic according to TechCrunch. Anthropic is a company that works in AI safety and research, and has its own flagship AI chatbot, Claude. Amazon recently committed a $4 billion investment into Anthropic (similar to Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI), so it’s quickly becoming a big deal in the world of AI.

The Browser Company was founded in 2019, and is made up of ex-employees  from some of the biggest names in tech like Instagram, Tesla, Medium, Google (Google Chrome specifically), and others. 

The Arc browser was initially released for some platforms in April of 2022, with a view to challenge Google Chrome’s dominance in the web browser market. In fact, Arc is built on Google’s Chromium engine, but with some interesting tweaks, like allowing more customization and a user interface that resembles File Explorer in Windows 11

Speaking of which, the Arc browser only currently exists for macOS and iOS, for now, but Windows users can try it for themselves later this year, and by then it should be packing some cool-sounding new AI tools, like the ChatGPT-powered AI assistant.

Some of the functions Arc Max will be able to do is analyze the page in a pinned tab and generate a new title that reads more easily. Similarly, it’ll be able to quickly rename downloaded files based on its analysis of the content in the files. When you browse the web and come across hyperlinks, Arc Max will generate a summary preview when you hover over it and press Shift.

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Worth getting excited about?

These types of functions and features will be seemingly opt-in, meaning you’ll have to go to Arc’s command bar (Cmd + T on the Mac keyboard) and enter “Arc Max”. This will open up a list of features for you to enable. The command bar is actually similar to the Windows taskbar search feature where you can type in what you’re looking for, and that will pull up the relevant feature. For example, you can type in “ChatGPT” into the command bar in Arc and then converse with ChatGPT.

These are just a few of the examples of Arc’s functionality – there are many AI-fuelled features and tools like web apps and extensions. Arc aims to make them a smooth part of your browsing experience so you’re interrupted as little as possible. The Verge recently interviewed The Browser Company about the Arc browser, and was told that it did a lot of prototype testing to make the AI features as intuitive as possible. Some of its experiments include automatic note-taking that instantly follows after text is selected, and a forward button which would lead to an exploration page of suggestions. TechCrunch compares the latter to StumbleUpon, a handy app which I personally miss.

As reported by TechCrunch, The Browsing Company laid out its plans for the fledgling browser in a recent live announcement. The CEO, Josh Miller, told the audience that features are all work in progress, and features will initially be kept in the browser for ninety days. During this period, Arc’s developers will collect feedback about the features and decide where to take them next based on that feedback. 

Three people working on a problem at a PC screen.

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

High hopes for a new browser experience

Being honest, I’m excited to try this browser. It sounds like it will be a pretty unique experience and I’m always open to trying new ways to browse the web. Browsers are huge parts of many people’s lives, and it’s no easy feat to succeed at establishing a new one. That said, Arc is already doing enough to keep my attention and give it a try. If you feel the same way, you can sign up for the Windows waiting list

No matter how promising Arc is, it’ll have a big challenge to rival Google Chrome, which is by far the most popular web browser in the world. While Arc’s new AI tools could certainly set it apart from fellow Chromium-based rival Chrome, Microsoft’s Edge browser, which is also based on Chromium, is gaining users (albeit slowly), mainly down to its own AI features.

Arc finally coming to Windows 10 and Windows 11 will certainly help, at least, as it’ll open up a whole new (and large) audience. Will that, along with the AI features, be enough to make a dent in Chrome’s popularity? I’m not too sure, but more choice is always welcome.

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