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Arc is one of the few companies doing truly interesting things in the browser space. Certainly it’s the first browser that convinced me that sprinkling AI features across search results is genuinely useful. But all of that happens on the computer side. The new Arc Search app changes that in a big way. 

Arc Search is built on the belief that a browser, a search engine, and an AI chatbot can work together to build a pleasurable internet experience for you, instead of fighting for ad space or creating silos (Microsoft Edge versus Bing, Google Chrome versus Bard). 

A screenshot of four stages of search on Arc Search, for the term

Credit: Khamosh Pathak

The app starts you off with a very simple search bar. Search for a term, tap the Browse For Me button, and Arc Search will kick in, searching the top six websites that match your keywords, scanning them using AI, and creating a very readable results page just for you, also with AI. 

What you get is a summary that goes way beyond the results that Google Bard or ChatGPT can offer. Because Arc Search is reading the web pages live, it has the latest information, and it provides it to you in two different sections. 

First, you’ll see a list of bullet points, giving you info at a glance. This is something that traditional AI chatbots are good at, of course, but you can then scroll down to see a detailed breakdown of each point, giving you additionally information, and, importantly, additional context. Arc will also show you which sites were used to find the information. If you choose to, you can visit more websites to dive deeper. 

All of this happens via an interface that is genuinely easy to use—it’s visually clean, and free of ads and trackers. It’s not a perfect system, and it suffers from the same limitations as the underlying AI models (Arc Search uses a combination of OpenAI and other tools). So while there is a risk of AI hallucinations, and a chance that key facts will be omitted, generally the results are worth reading through.

The interface is quite stripped down, reminding me of the customizable Quiche browser. There’s a button to access tabs and a URL bar; the settings are all hidden behind a menu. The main purpose is Search, and that’s the button in focus. The combination of the simple interface, an AI search that’s actually good to use, and ad-free browsing everywhere makes it a great contender for the new default iPhone browser for me. Is it for you?

[The Verge]

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