Web browser have changed a lot in the past few decades, and they haven't changed much at all. Today's Google Chrome v114 isn't functionally that different from Netscape Navigator all those years back. Sure, we have tabs now and you can search right from the address bar, but the interface and how you interact with hasn't really evolved that much.
But Arc? That's a change. Built by The Browser Company on top of the same open source Chromium core that powers Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Brave, Opera, and dozens of other browsers, Arc's innovation is in the interface. Gone is the address bar with forward and back buttons and a row of tabs across the top representing your open web pages. Instead, it turns the paradigm on its side (literally) by placing and organizing your internet life into customizable spaces you can swipe through in the sidebar.
Arc also allows customization of site styles via CSS overrides, has a built-in note-taking feature, and can even act as a kind of sidebar. And even though it looks and works very differently than a traditional web browser, because it's built on the Chromium engine it supports Chrome browser extensions so people switching from Chrome (or Edge) don't have to give up all of the add-ons they've come to rely on.
The Browser Company describes Arc not as a browser (even though that's in their name), but as an "operating system for the internet". In a way it kind of is that, it is more than just a portal to view websites. But as much as it is a rethink of the web browser interface, it also requires a rethink of how you use it. Arc has been in an invite-only preview for several months, though all users had to do was add their email to a waiting list. I did that a few months back when the hype first kicked off and got an invite within a week. I gave Arc a quick spin, but I was busy and didn't feel like I had the time to give it a proper try, and switched back to Chrome.
Meanwhile, Kevin Michaluk went all-in on Arc and became a big fan of how it brought new focus to his diverse work. At one point he even stopped a company meeting to rave for half an hour about how Arc has streamlined how he uses the internet and what used to be a bunch of disparate apps on his Mac. With today's wide release of Arc 1.0 without any waitlist, I decided to ask Kevin for "1-2 paragraphs on what you like most about Arc". In typical Kevin fashion (and a testament to how much he likes using Arc), he returned with four paragraphs:
I'm involved in a bunch of different businesses, each typically has its own Google account and a bunch of related apps or services I need to use related to that business or project. This meant a ton of my day got wasted jumping between different Chrome instances and logging in and out of accounts and trying to remember which one to use for each business. It also means apps like Slack are a loaded gun because the app is connected to 7 businesses all pinging notifications for my attention, causing a bunch of distractions.
When I downloaded Arc I took the time to setup a Space for each of these businesses. The spaces are setup with bookmarks and folders and logins all related to that business. And that includes apps like Slack, where I use a the webview of Slack, logged in to only one account in each Arc space.
So now when I "switch hats" from one business to another, all of the accounts and apps I need are immediately there and at the same time I block out the distractions from all the other accounts I don't want to interrupt me.
Arc isn't perfect (yet), but in my quest to be more productive (which means a lot more monotasking and less bullshit multitasking), it's becoming an essential tool. Logically, it's what you want your computer OS to do by default, but since that doesn't seem to be getting any better Arc is a great solution.
I might have to give Arc another shot. Like Kevin, I'm constantly jumping between accounts and projects and more. I am vigilant about keeping my tabs under control, but I end up with multiple windows with several tabs each for each thing I'm working on instead. And apps like Slack for communications and Mailplane for all of my Google email accounts are always logged in to everything, and always pinging. Maybe Arc is the solution I need.