Arc, originally a Mac-only browser, has recently been expanding. The browser company has announced a beta version of its Windows version last monthand today they’re bringing the Arc experience to the iPhone With Arc Search. As the name suggests, the new app is focused on search – when you open the app, you’re greeted with a keyboard and search field rather than your usual collection of icons. And instead of just serving up simple search results from Google or the engine of your choice, Arc scans the web for various sources and creates a “page for me” that pulls together a wealth of information related to your desired query.
Like, I’m just like, “What happened at the Detroit Lions game?” and confronted the details of the controversial two-point conversion that was overturned and how it affected the outcome of the game, a three-point loss to the Lions. This is followed by some top search results, team reactions, more details on the referees involved in the baffling challenge, fan sentiment and more links to check out.
It’s not unlike the summaries you get in Google’s generative AI search results, but so far I find the results to be very hit or miss. For example, in the aforementioned Lions survey, the actual final score of the game was nowhere to be found on the Arc-created page. That’s pretty basic information you’d expect to see above. Other surveys I’ve run have yielded a decent overview, but not a lot of in-depth detail, and sometimes there were no other links to click on to continue researching. It was a strange feeling because the results I was getting were not comprehensive.
If you’re not interested in such summary pages, you can still just type in a query and hit “go” on your keyboard to search Google; you can get the summary pages generated by Arc if you just click the “Browse for me” button. You can also paste the URL directly into the search field and go directly to the site if you’re so inclined. Like the desktop Arc browser, the Arc Search app archives your bookmarks after 24 hours so you can amass a never-ending log of sites you won’t return to (you can also choose to have the bookmarks stick around for up to 30 days if you need more time with what you’ve taken). To make reading an article easier, there’s a nice “reader” mode you’ll find in Safari that eliminates the clutter found on many modern websites. It also blocks trackers, ads, and banners by default, which is pretty handy.
As far as I can tell, there’s no way to sync Arc Search with a desktop browser — no way to see tabs opened from another machine, and I don’t even think there’s a way to log into Arc Search with an account you’ve created for yourself. your desktop browser. The only thing you can do with your open tabs is star them so they don’t close, but there are no bookmarking or “read later” features elsewhere.
As the name suggests, it’s a way to search and find the information you need on your phone without offering the tools you’d expect to find in a full-featured web browser. This makes it a bit of a tough sell for me – I love Arc on the Mac, and this feels like a far less useful experience than the full version of Arc, let alone Safari or Chrome on iOS. While there’s something to be said for simplicity, AI-generated summaries aren’t worth making it my default mobile web browser.
However, The Browser Company likes to let things run wild so users can test them and figure out what doesn’t work, so I’m sure iterations and improvements will come quickly. The company already says it’s working on syncing with the desktop, and they also plan to integrate the app with features found in the “Arc Mobile Companion” app that launched last spring. That app, now removed from the App Store, only shows which tabs you have open on other devices and returns them to Safari (or other apps) for viewing. So it’s safe to say that the new Arc app will soon be more capable. While it’s not something I’d want to use as my default browser just yet, Arc’s quirky take on how a browser works is enough to keep an eye on it and see how it grows.