April 19, 2024
Arc's new iPhone browser wants to be your search companion

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The Browser Company launched the Arc’s first iPhone companion app last year, allowing users to save links for consumption on the desktop application later. The firm has now released a new mobile app, called Arc Search, that aims to focus on the search experience.

The marquee AI-powered feature of the app, “Browse for me,” returns a neatly built webpage with information about the search query. The feature, powered by models from OpenAI and others, reads at least six web pages and builds a new page with different sections.

Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

For instance, when I searched “How to make a perfectly poached egg,” Arc Search made a page for me with sections like “Ingredients and Tools,” “Poaching technique,” “Cooking process,” and additional tips. The page also had a bunch of useful photos and videos.

Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

 

The browser also made a neat summary for me when I asked about “What changes Apple made to the App Store in response to DMA.” While it didn’t get all the points across, the web page had the crux of the announcements made by the Cupertino-based tech giant.

These pages are great for me to get information at glance, and I can also use the “Dive Deeper” section to explore additional links listed for the topic. However, at the moment I can’t share these pages with anyone unless I take a screenshot.

Other features

If users don’t want to use the AI-powered feature, they can just tap on the query to use Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or Ecosia — whichever you have set as default.

Notably, last week, the Browser Company announced that users can set Preplexity as their default search engine on the Arc’s desktop client. But it’s not clear if this option will be available for the mobile client.

There is also a reader mode for all webpage for easy reading and you can bookmark the webpage as well. But there is no folder system to store these bookmarks.

Arc Search browser also archives tabs after 1 day (this is customizable) to save you from tab overload. You can look at your open tabs through the tab switcher on the bottom bar, or you can swipe and hold from the left edge of the screen.

Arc Mobile will auto archive tabs

Image Credits: The Browser Company

Additionally, Arc Search blocks GDPR and newsletter popups, ads, and trackers automatically. Unlike the first companion browser, you can set this as a default on the iPhone.

Why did Arc build a browser this way?

The Browser Company’s CEO Josh Miller said in a thread on X that the startup wanted to make the fastest way to look up things as that’s what most people do with phone browsers. So it started with a search bar in the middle. And it opens up with a keyboard so you can start typing in the query immediately.

With its new page creation feature search, the new Arc Search browser wants to make you feel like you are interacting with an AI Agent that will do the heavy lifting of looking up things, summarizing the content, and presenting it well. We have seen this kind of approach with Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) or Perplexity AI. On the flip side, browsers have primarily introduced AI-powered features to summarize pages or to help you write posts. Arc Search is trying to merge both of these feature surfaces.

What’s next?

At the moment, Arc will keep its mobile companion for saving links alive, but it plans to merge both browser clients at a later stage.

What’s more, the company said it plans to launch cross-browser syncing. Miller said in his thread that as the company starts to ramp up its rollout of the Windows client, it can’t rely on just iCloud. That’s why the team is building Arc’s own syncing experience, which will launch soon.

Arc started with a waitlist system for Mac and dropped it last year for anyone to download. Its Windows client, which is in beta, still adopts a waitlist system. With this new Arc Search client, the company wanted to have a low-barrier entry point for users where they don’t have to create an account and get started with browsing right away.



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