|Developer(s)||The Browser Company|
|Written in||Swift (macOS and upcoming Microsoft Windows versions)|
|Engine||Blink, V8 (WebKit on iOS)|
Arc is a freeware web browser developed by The Browser Company, a startup company founded by Josh Miller and Hursh Agrawal. It was released on 19 April 2022 after having undergone a closed beta test. Arc is available for use on macOS and iOS. A Microsoft Windows version of the browser is in development, and is expected to be released in December 2023.
Arc aims to act as an operating system for the web and tries to integrate web browsing with built-in applications and features. These include a virtual notepad, a scrapbook-style "easel", and "boosts", a feature that lets users cosmetically redesign a website in a similar way to browser extensions. As opposed to almost all other browsers, Arc uses vertical tabs (which can be found in a sidebar). The sidebar contains all of the browser's functionality besides the browsing window. Arc is based on Chromium and is written in Swift. It supports Chrome browser extensions, as well as using Google Search by default.
Arc has received coverage from several technology media outlets, including The Verge, Ars Technica, How-To Geek and Engadget. Critics gave Arc a generally positive reception, citing the new ideas and features the browser presents. However, most reviewers agreed that the browser needed polishing before it could be a "perfect" browser.
Arc was designed by The Browser Company, a startup company from New York City founded by Josh Miller and Hursh Agrawal in 2019. The Browser Company has employees who have previously worked at other technology firms, including Instagram, Tesla, Medium and Google Chrome.
The browser was released on 19 April 2022 via an announcement on Twitter. It had previously undergone a beta test, with the roughly 100 testers involved bound to a non-disclosure agreement. Users are only able to use the browser after signing up to an Arc account with an email address.
As opposed to other web browsers, Arc is designed to be an operating system for the web, and tries to integrate standard browsing with Arc's own applications through the use of a sidebar. The browser is designed to be customisable and allows users to cosmetically change how they see specific websites.
Color is used in Arc to let the user customise their browsing experience. One of the first things to happen during Arc's installation process is to pick a color for the browser (either a static color or a color gradient). Speaking with Input magazine, Karla Cole (one of Arc's designers) stated that this process is because the design team "wanted to play with the feeling you get as a movie opens. This radiating blast of colors becomes a through-line for the entire unboxing experience". The browser's visual lighting takes inspiration from the artist Robert Irwin, who uses scrims in his art to shift attention to areas which can be missed. The design team thought that a sort of virtual scrim could be used in Arc to draw the user's attention to the browser, not just the pages viewed through it. Arc’s design lead, Dustin Senos, summarised their thinking: "other browsers have tried to be a window to the internet — but the room matters, too. What else is around that window?".
Arc is written in Swift and is based on Google's Chromium codebase, which makes it similar to Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome. As it is based on Chromium, users can download browser extensions from the Chrome Web Store. Arc uses Google Search by default.
Arc uses a sidebar to store all parts of the browser—including the search bar, tab list and bookmarks—aside from the viewing window. The sidebar also contains controls for audio playback, which can be accessed while not using the tab playing the audio. This functionality also works with video call software, like Google Meet.
Tabs in Arc can be put into "spaces", which organise tabs into separate areas that can be given different themes and browser profiles. Tabs in spaces can be put in a split-screen view with four tabs per window. Tabs can be pinned, which puts them in a labelled area in the sidebar. Unpinned tabs disappear after a period of time (which can be changed or disabled in settings) but can be retrieved in Arc's "archived tabs" section. Tabs can also be renamed.
Arc includes several built-in applications, including an "easel" function, which can be used to collect webpage screenshots and URLs. The easel includes tools for typing and drawing. Easels can be kept private, shared with other people for collaboration or posted online. There is also a notebook function, which can be accessed from the search bar. Aside from built-in applications, Arc also has integrations with other web applications, like Gmail and Google Calendar.
Arc's "Air Traffic Control" feature lets users select which space a specific link will be opened at. Users can create whats called a "route" that defines which space the link will be opened when the link is opened from an external source. The "Air Traffic Control" feature can be accessed and modified from the Arc settings > Links > Air Traffic Control.
Arc is available for macOS (on both Intel and Apple Silicon chips, using universal binary). A stripped-down companion app with only the sidebar functionality was released for iOS on 30 March 2023. A release for Microsoft Windows is in development and is expected to be completed in 2023. The Windows version will be written in Swift instead of C++.
Arc has received generally favorable reviews from critics. How-To Geek gave the browser a 7/10, saying that "Arc has some excellent ideas and the confidence to lean into them [... but] feels like it needs a bit more polish to deliver a silky smooth browsing experience". David Pierce of The Verge agreed and said that "Arc isn’t perfect, and it takes some getting used to. But it’s full of big new ideas about how we should interact with the web — and it’s right about most of them". In an article published by Fast Company, Jared Newman called Arc the most polished of "all the attempts to reimagine the web browser".