My Arc Browser Experience

More than a year ago I found somewhere an article, which praised “this new and incredible Arc Browser“. I don’t remember where the article was, probpably on Medium, but after I read it, I was impressed by what the Browser Company is doing. It seemed not “just another browser”, it seemed more like “a browser, powered by Chromium, and integrating a lot of useful trends and tools”.

Chromium won the browser space. Sure, Firefox and Opera are still trying to keep their share, but the sad truth is that both have become a niche products. I remember, almost 20 years ago, when I first saw Firefox 0.6 (I think it was Yovko, who pointed it out to me). It made serious mistakes on their way, and combined with the power of Google, it lost the battle. But that doesn’t matter now, as we’re talking about Arc here.

I first downloaded and started using Arc one year ago. At that time the browser was quite clumsy. For some strange reason they decided that the users “must do the things their way (only)”, which was similar to the initial behavior Apple had for their users. It’s understandable that a strong PO/PM or a CEO might be able to force such illogical thoughts on their employees, but in the free market that wouldn’t fly. So I became a “dormant” Arc user: I had it, I updated regularly to see their progress, I kept my account and everything, but I rarely used it, except for browsing stuff, related to Eve Online and Elite:Dangerous. Which was not that often, but was still something.

These days I saw a more detailed article, which took my attention. Reading through it I got very interested by the AI integration inside Arc. I decided to give it a try, this time in a more serious way. So I began the experiment of moving all my personal/research browsing stuff (which right now resides in the “Personal” Edge space) to Arc. Let’s see how it’ll go. If this works well, I might consider a more permanent switch. Of course, Edge, Chrome, Firefox, and Safari will remain on most of my (desktop) machines, but Arc now has a chance to become a more permanent app on my task list and my daily life.

What I like the most (as of today):

  1. They seems to listen to their users: most of the annoying things. Extensions residing in their own, hard to find space, was one of the biggest push-backs I had when using Arc. Now they can stay in the Toolbar (yes, before the Toolbar was a concept they did not had).
  2. The browser is (still) fast. It feels faster than Edge or Chrome, even when I add the extensions for my daily use.
  3. When it comes to browsing, it “feels” like Edge/Chrome. Which is not weird, since they’re using the same engine. However, the additional functionality in the browser shell is fun. However, it runs on a Chromium port, where they stripped all privacy, ad-related stuff, which Google uses to collect privacy data.
  4. The ability to get a page automatically summarized by AI is very useful. Helps a lot. And learning it is a lot of fun. And it seems they’re coming with even more AI features.
Arc Browser on iPadOS: Not the best experience.

What I dislike about Arc (as of today):

  1. No Windows version. When it comes, it’ll be interesting, as it seems they’re planning to build it in Swift :). It feels like a risky move, but hey… creating “yet another browser” is a risky business anyway. When I was watching the video about it, I was actually thinking “well, if they don’t succeed with the browser, but they succeed with bringing Swift to Windows, that might be the company’s success to keep them afloat?”
  2. No Android version. Sorry, folks… maybe I should have started with these two. Without Android and Windows version it’ll be hard for most of the people to give it a try. However, I ensure you, it’s awesome (on MacOS)
  3. iPhone version lacks some of the best features (but thankfully, synch works). It’s far behind the desktop version, at least it feels so.
  4. iPadOS version is non-existent: it’s just the iPhone version running on iPad. If you’ve ever used such software, you know how clunky it feels.

Well, reading the four points above, it seems that my complaints are not around the primary feature set of Arc (for Mac), but it’s about porting that stuff in the right way to other platforms. From my own perspective, Arc for Mac desktop is already doing great stuff. The integration with the rest of the Apple ecosystem is at MVP level, but I’m looking forward to seeing how this grows.

If you’re a Mac user – give it a try. You may find a new friend there.

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