After staying in invite-only mode for more than a year, The Browser Company’s Arc browser is now available to everyone. The company is bumping up the browser version number to 1.0 with this announcement. It also unveiled a revamped website to promote the public launch.
Currently, Arc is currently only available for Mac users, but the company is planning to launch a Windows version later this year. It offers a companion app for mobile devices, but it’s not a full browser.
The Browser Company was founded by Branch co-founders and former Facebook employees Josh Miller and Hursh Agrawal in 2019. In 2021, it raised $5 million from high-profile investors, such as LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner, Medium’s Ev Williams and Figma’s Dylan Field, in an attempt to build a new web browsing experience.
What the heck is an Arc browser?
The Browser Company uses Chromium as the base architecture for the Arc browser, which allows users to easily port saved bookmarks, logins and extensions.
However, new users could potentially face a steep learning curve given that it has a different way of treating tabs — they look more like applications. If you get used to getting around the browser using keyboard shortcuts, life with Arc will be easier. It’s somewhat of a “nerdy” product, so there are a number of customizable shortcuts for different actions.
In Arc, you can create different “Spaces” like “Work,” “Entertainment,” “Vacation” and “Notetaking” to store different tabs related to them so you can quickly access them. You can pin six tabs (sites) that are common across spaces, and you can also pin tabs inside of spaces. Plus, this new browser has built-in note-taking and whiteboard tools. I know, it’s complicated.
Its approach of putting tabs in the sidebar and archiving them rather than closing them altogether might push people to give up within a few hours of using it. The company hopes that the revamped website gives more information about the browser before people even try it out, making the learning curve easier.
What have they rolled out in the past few months?
While Arc is designed to be a desktop browser, they rolled out an iPhone app in March that helps you put tabs into spaces while browsing on mobile, so you can access them later.
The company also rolled out a fun feature called Boosts that lets you change the theme and layout of a website — including removing some sections and buttons — without any coding skills.
Over the last few weeks, Arc also introduced a toolbar that lives atop the browser window, making accessing the URL bar and site settings easier. Before this, users had to go to the sidebar to access these features.
The company has additionally introduced picture-in-picture support for Google Meet, a per-site control center to enable or disable boosts, developer mode and picture-in-picture settings. And it’s made tweaks to improve multi-window support along with speed improvements.
Many browsers in the market, including Microsoft Edge, Opera and Sigma OS, have integrated an AI assistant. Arc is also thinking about integrating AI into its browser, it says. The company recently showed off a demo about how AI could help Arc users change some elements of the website. Those features may come in time as The Browser Company plans to ship more updates and new features after this v1 release.