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#32: The browser of the future is now rolling out the red carpet
The Browser Company is one of those rare ideas where you go “oh we definitely need that, why has no one come up with it before?!”
A. Don’t have much time? Here’s the summary
Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are horizontal tools made for everyone. And these haven’t fundamentally evolved since the 90s. But today, we spend 40-60% of our total computer time in our browsers.
We have all faced issues with our browsers: too many tabs slowing down the system, poor multitasking, not optimized for speed like our apps in our stack these days.
The Browser Company, backed by the who’s who of the tech world, is reimagining the browser as an operating system rather than just another app in your arsenal.
They’ve been testing and iterating with a small group of early users for some time now. Finally, the gates are now opening. The Arc of Triumph.
👆When was the last time you had such a product unboxing experience?
B. The problem with browsers today
How do you spend time on your computer? 💻
If you’re like most knowledge workers, your browser is one of your most-used applications, making up 40-60% of the total time you spend on your system.
Be it collaborating in Notion or Figma, reading articles on Substack, responding to emails, or even watching Netflix - your browser is your window into the internet.
And your experience of the world outside can only be as good as your window.
As we’ve seen in a previous issue on how Google apps are dying:
Whenever something is built for everyone, rarely does it delight anyone
Chrome, Safari, and Firefox are some of these horizontal tools made for everyone. And these haven’t fundamentally evolved since the 90s. While Google kicked off the movement to build a “modern platform for web pages and applications” with Chrome in 2008, it still wasn’t a rethink of the fundamentals.
We realized that the web had evolved from mainly simple text pages to rich, interactive applications and that we needed to completely rethink the browser. What we really needed was not just a browser, but also a modern platform for web pages and applications, and that's what we set out to build.
~the then VP of Product Management, Sundar Pichai (Sep 2008; Source)
So, the fundamental elements that make up the browser have remained the same:
Tabs: Are still a mess and opening too many at once slows down the system
Bookmarks: Too many at once become difficult to manage and search; they are not in sync with how we recall information (refer to the piece on mymind)
Extensions: and applications opened in the browser still don’t run as seamlessly as a native app
Search history: Is just a passive list of URLs you have visited in the past with no intelligence on top of it
…leading to the same problems all over again:
🧰 User experience is not optimized for using web applications like Notion, Slack, and Figma
😫 Poor multitasking capability. 10+ tabs and your system goes brrrrrr
🎮 Lack of a multiplayer experience. Almost every app is collaboration-first but the window is still stuck in a solo mode
⚡ Slow default. Speed is not a consideration - be it search, multiple accounts, or a keyboard-only interface
Despite this, Chrome owns about 70% of the browser market while its competitors all have single-digit shares and most continue to shrink. Many users complain about Chrome's performance issues and Google's massive data collection, but Chrome’s market share is steadily growing. This is strong evidence that while there's a lot of debate about cross-site tracking, the public doesn't care very much.
What if we could reimagine a browser from scratch? Not as just another application in your computer but as an operating system.
Then, we could completely reimagine the window through which we experience so much of the web.
What if your browser could build you a personalized news feed because it knows the sites you go to?
What if every web app felt like a native app, and the browser itself was just the app launcher?
What if you could drag a file from one tab to another, and it just worked?
What if the web browser was a shareable, synced, multiplayer experience? It would be nothing like the simple, passive windows to the web that browsers are now.
C. What is the Browser Company doing about it?
I have been using Arc, the Browser Company’s browser, for more than seven months. The progress they’ve made in recent months has been enormous. (I’m not the only one who thinks that)
Arc is a craftsman product tailor-made for those who spend long days on the internet. It’s fast and it’s designed around workspaces and multitasking without having to worry about having too many tabs. Given that it is built on Chromium, all your Chrome extensions work in Arc too.
The first thing you’ll notice about Arc is the minimal, unconventional interface. It doesn’t have ‘tabs’ 👀 like any mainstream browsers but has spaces for you to arrange your web pages and apps.
Arc can be used with almost no interface, so web apps look like desktop apps.
Everything in Arc helps you relieve any anxiety you may have experienced with traditional browsers, gearing you up to focus on the task at hand. And it helps you get there faster ✨ It is your *personal* operating system for the internet.
🗃️ Individual tabs operate more like apps. This means you never have to worry about ‘having too many tabs open’ as Arc will optimize them for you depending on your usage. And if you have too many inactive tabs after a week of usage, Arc will archive them for you, so that you don’t have to spend time in housekeeping.
📁 These apps can be organized into folders and spaces. Arc understands that you live different lives in the same browser - related to your work, side-hustle, hobbies, entertainment etc. And everything needs a separate space - just like organizing files on your computer in folders. This means you can start working from where you left off - every time you open your browser. Just like you’d do with your computer. (You won’t need bookmarks anymore)
📝 Arc is also coming up with in-built, lightweight apps that you use most often with your browser like a note-taking tool (which you can use side-by-side with an article you’re reading or a meeting you’re attending) and a whiteboarding tool (to quickly capture screenshots from the websites you visit and visually put down your thoughts)
⚡ Arc is blazing fast: It is keyboard-first, has a spotlight-like search interface, and helps you learn shortcuts as you go (just like Superhuman).
D. Some more exciting updates and apps
Superlist seems to be coming out of private beta. They’ve released snippets of their app on the website! (Still not in full public access though)
Amie now has referrals! So, it’s time to ask your friends and Twitter buddies for access. (Great if you can send me one too 🙄)