Only a few days after releasing an AI-powered mobile app, called Arc Search, The Browser Company is making some big (and of course AI-powered) changes to its desktop browser as well.
Unlike Arc Search, though, which is essentially a total rethink of how you use the web on your phone, the new stuff in Arc for Mac and Windows is more straightforward and practical. They turn search queries into bookmarks without needing a Google page, and they keep you up to date on stuff you care about without needing another app. In Arc’s world, it’s all about the web browser.
For instance, 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 on the 1989 World Tour, you can just ask Arc’s AI bot for it, and it’ll dump that link as an open tab into your sidebar. The Browser Company also suggests grabbing a bunch of product reviews for your comparison, or some good-sounding recipes — any time you might go to Google and click 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 couple of weeks. Live Folders are basically a live-updating stream of data from wherever you want — an RSS feed could drop new articles into your reading list every time it updates, you could get a new tab every time your favorite creator drops a new video, that sort of thing.
The idea, says Josh Miller, The Browser Company’s CEO, is to take some of the many-step processes of using the internet and just make them simpler. “If you set up a Google Alert,” he says, “you get an email, you click on a thing, you switch apps... just to have a link open in your browser. Why don’t we just have the link in the browser open there for you?” Like the experimental Arc Max features the company shipped a few months ago, he says the goal is just to make the internet feel a little faster, a little more intuitive, a little more useful than just an app with a bunch of tabs.
Arc Explore, which is a desktop version of Arc Search’s “browse for me” feature that creates a bespoke webpage with AI-generated information on any topic you search for, is by far the most ambitious thing The Browser Company is working on. The other features are practical and straightforward, and you can either use them or ignore them. But Explore has implications that reach far beyond your browser.
“We are grappling with a revolution in how software works and computers work, and that’s gonna mess some stuff up.”
The Browser Company calls Arc Explore “a tool for automating a browsing journey from end to end,” with the promise that you can ask for information on any subject or question and Arc will scour the internet and use AI to 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 seems unworried about what it might mean. “We are grappling with a technology, and we are grappling with a revolution in how software works and computers work, and that’s gonna mess some stuff up,” he says. “But I think it will do more positive than negative.” (Miller and I recently talked about all this for next Tuesday’s episode of The Vergecast — available wherever you get your podcasts!)
All these changes are part of what The Browser Company calls the “Second Act” for Arc, as it shifts to focus more on AI. Every browser, frankly, 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 is the future of the web and the browser is the future of AI. The AI browser wars are here, they’re moving fast, and there’s no telling how they’ll change the way the internet works.