The Arc Browser is getting new AI-powered features that try to browse the web for you

Earlier this week, the team behind the Arc browser for Mac (and more recently Windows) Arc has released a brand new iPhone app called Search. As you’d expect, it has artificial intelligence to power the experience, where the app “browses for you” — pulling together different data sources on the web to create a personalized web page to answer the questions you ask it. This is just one part of what The Browser Company is calling Arc 2nd Law, and the company has detailed three major new features it will bring to the browser in the coming weeks and months.

The connective tissue of all these updates is that Arc is trying to blur the lines between browser, search engine and website – the company wants to bring them all together to make the web a little more useful for end users. In a promotional video released today, various folks from The Browser Company excitedly discuss a browser that can browse for you (a handy idea, of course).

Arc Search demonstrated one implementation of this idea, and the next is a feature called Instant Links that arrived today. When you search for something, pressing shift and enter will tell Arc to search and automatically open the best result. It won’t have a 100 percent success rate, but it definitely does when it’s needed. One example Arc showed was a search for “True Detective season 4 trailer” — pressing shift + enter automatically opened the trailer from YouTube in a new tab and started playing it.

You can also get a lot of results with this tool. I told it “show me a folder with five different soup recipes” and Arc created a folder with five different tabs for me to review. I also asked for forecasts in Rome, Paris and Athens and got three pages detailing each city. It’s convenient, but I’m looking forward to Arc filling it with more smarts than just pulling the “top” search result. (Side note: after testing this feature, my browser sidebar is full of all kinds of nonsense. I’m glad Arc closes things automatically every day so I don’t have to sort through it.)

Similarly, the upcoming Live Folders feature will collect updates from sites you want to follow as a sort of RSS feed. The idea is to predict which sites someone will look at and bring updated results to that folder. One example involved tagging items on GitHub – each time a new item occurred, a tag would be added to the folder containing the item. The demo version of this feature was brief, but should be available in beta on February 15th for further testing.

I understand from the video that developers have to keep their sites updated via Live Folders, so it doesn’t seem like you can just add whatever you want and expect it to work. So it reminds me of some of the other Arc features that let you hover over a Gmail or Google Calendar tab to get a preview of your latest messages or your next appointment. Hopefully it’ll be smart enough to do things like drop new posts from your favorite site into a folder or open a new video from a YouTube channel you’re subscribed to, but we’ll have to wait to find out. (I’ve also reached out to Arc for more details on how this might work and will update this story if I hear back.)

Finally, the last new feature here is also the most ambitious and one that most embodies the “browser that browses for you” vibe. The Arc Explore browser, which the company says should be ready for testing in the next few months, uses LLMs to combine the search engine and site into a single experience. In practice, this is similar to what Arc already does with its new browser, but more advanced. In one example the company gave, starting with a request to make a reservation at one of several different restaurants, the Arc Explore interface returned a series of details about each location, along with direct links to Resy pages. book a table for two at the exact time indicated.

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Another demo showed that using Arc Explore can be better than just searching and clicking results. As with all good demos, it centered around soup. Having Arc Explore details about a specific type of soup instantly provides details like ingredient lists, direct recipe steps, and of course, related videos. Compared to the hassle of navigating multiple sites loaded with auto-playing ads, videos, unrelated text, and more distractions, the Arc Explore experience feels remarkably calm. Of course, this is only if it returns results that are relevant to you. But using the LLM, you can chat with Arc to get closer to what you’re looking for.

After using Arc Search on my iPhone, I can appreciate what The Browser Company is going for here – however, it’s no small thing to break my old habits of how I browse the web. That means these tools will have to work pretty well at launch if they’re going to replace the years I’ve spent putting things into the Google box and finding the results I want. But that sums up the whole philosophy and point behind Arc: to shake those habits to create a better viewing experience. Not all of these experiments will stick, and others will mutate heavily from these initial ideas, but I’m definitely interested to see how things develop here.

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