Arc Web Browser First Impressions: Fresh Splash For Still Internet – Dexerto

The Browser Company’s new web browser, Arc, aims to take the standard and provide a new way to experience the Internet.

In recent weeks we have been given access to the new web browser Arc. It’s an interesting proposal in 2022, going into 2023. The world has browsers, whether you have a favorite or not, it’s not something you ever really think about.

Not just using a particular browser over another, but the actual basics of a browser. User interfaces, extensions and the underlying engine that powers them. You settle for something like Chromesimply because it transfers your passwords between devices.

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It’s not something you think about, but Arc brought all this forward. Why did we use Firefox? Why not Opera or Safari?

What is the Arc Browser?

Arc browser

Created by The Browser Company, Arc is a new browser built on top of Google’s Chromium engine. It works much the same as any other browser, but chooses to focus on you, the user. It’s full of tools to make work-life balance really work.

This includes ‘Spaces’ to separate your bookmarks depending on what you’re doing, and ways to ‘capture’ parts of the web for later use. Tabs and menus are on the side, so you immediately experience an almost full screen.

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The future is all Chrome

There’s no escaping Chrome. Google’s web engine is too baked into the wider web by default. Have you ever tried to use Firefox with Google applications? It falters, because it is now the exception.

Even Microsoft has given up on building its own browser. Internet Explorer is dead, and Edge now runs Chromium under the hood. Brave, an open-source privacy-focused browser, also runs Chromium. Opera, a long holdover of alternatives, runs Chromium.

Firefox and Safari don’t, but Safari has the advantage of running WebKit. The engine is the only one that does that iOS running, which means all other browsers must adhere to it, so all the various web apps must adhere to it as well.

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squidward in the spongebob episode sb-192 watching the spongebob clones with different browser logos on their faces

Arc is no different. It runs Chromium. It’s actually Chrome with a new dress on. It has the advantage of being integrated into the Chrome ecosystem, transferring your profile directly in a few clicks. Coming over from Firefox, it meant a few extra steps to enter passwords and such.

It’s not a big deal, but it’s scary how strong the stranglehold on browsers a company can have. However, unlike Microsoft and Netscape Navigator in the past, this is another battle.

With everything under the hood and the dozens now available around the world, it’s more of a cold war than anything.

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We didn’t expect The Browser Company to generate and build its own browser engine, but for the revolutionary attitude that it’s busy, it’s kind of funny to see it fall back to standard.

Work life balance

In fact, what Arc does best is what it was originally designed for. With most of our lives connected to a browser and profiles exchanged between computers, you can never really escape work.

Sitting in your chair after a long day, only to be immediately greeted with an autofill suggestion for a frequently visited work-related website may be a mistake of the progressive society we live in.

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Arc, while still struggling with this aspect, at least seems to be making huge strides to make sure you don’t have that transition in your life.

Spaces arc

The best implementation we use regularly is Firefox. Mozilla’s browser has “containers” that allow you to effectively run multiple instances of Firefox for different purposes. The biggest problem is actually the easy access to these instances.

Since they run in tabs, if you don’t load the right container, you can start working in the wrong container and infect your normal life.

Arc lets you swap ‘Spaces’, which means you won’t be greeted with work right away if you’re just trying to use the internet. It’s something you don’t realize until the option is presented to you. Work no longer follows you through the web and your life no longer interferes with your work.

Bookmarks, tabs and more can all be separated. What doesn’t work is the autofill in the search bar. It is still littered with the various things we don’t want to see after a certain hour.

It’s not quite as bad as the full attack Chrome and Safari offer, with a full dropdown, but it still exists.

Arc is filled with secrets

The other aspect of Arc is that it’s almost like a scrapbook or notebook. You can take things from the internet and put them in ‘easles’.

With ease, you can pull in these static or live screenshots to refer to later. It works similarly to Notion, another productivity app that displays the web pages in the little snippets you’ve captured.

Best? YouTube videos work as expected. Collecting an easel to show someone a collection of notes you’ve collected is ridiculously easy, and then have it all work within the same tab? Even better.

What’s currently the downfall of Arc with all these different tools is that it refuses to surface them or even work the way you’d expect them to.

Tabs

Bow split

Tabs are essential to the day-to-day operation of a modern web browser. Arc lets you split the screen up to four times before you even start thinking about things like splitting the screen on Windows and macOS.

It’s a super handy thing, meant to keep things you do together. It’s also not functional as you might expect. You can press shortcuts to access this split view, but the combination feels like The Browser Company fought the various operating systems to make sure they didn’t override system-level shortcuts.

It means that things like accessing a new tab in split view aren’t as easy as pressing Control+Shift+T, but Control+Shift+= instead. Same with donkeys, because you have to press Control+Shift+E. It’s an unnatural combination to press on the keyboard, one that just never sat well on the brain for two weeks.

We found it faster to create a new tab and then drag it into the space it will split.

Small bow

Small bow

After setting Arc as our default browser, we were suddenly introduced to “Little Arc” after clicking a link in an email. It is just a window that opens to quickly access the Internet. However, Arc allows you to integrate it directly into one of your spaces. In normal browsers you have to copy the link and close the window.

It’s a small thing, but one that immediately made the job much easier.

Arc may be close to stay

That’s the problem with Arc. The little things. The little moments of “Oh!” when something new is added, or when something new appears that you hadn’t paid attention to. It’s a smart piece softwareone that might just be the big step forward the web is looking for.

All tools seem to rely on the stagnation of the web. Pushing boundaries won’t come soon, the web is too focused on serving a boring master. Instead, Arc seems more focused on providing better tools and better experiences for a web that doesn’t seem interested in change.

Ease of use, as well as actually making the browser a functional tool for whatever you need it for, rather than relying on extensions, is something we’re fully on board to see growing.

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