I’ve been using ARC browser now since December 1st, 2022. I jumped onboard when it was announced on theverge.com. It’s been my default browser for the last 6 months, and I have to say, I bloody love it.
There are so many cool features, customizations, and exciting new features that I’ve constantly bragging about to my friends, and many of them have finally ditched Chrome and made the switch.
In fact, it’s so good, I’d probably pay to use it.
Now that I’m 6 months in, what’s changed since my original review? Quite a bit actually! They’ve made a ton of awesome updates over the last few months. And there’s one that actually blew my mind (more on that below).
Before I jump into all the things I love about this amazing piece of software, here’s a short outline of this awesome new web browser:
What is ARC Browser?
ARC browser is a web browser developed by the Browser Company (duh). ARC is designed to provide a fast and efficient browsing experience with its advanced features and sleek interface.
It has a built-in ad blocker that blocks invasive advertising and tracker scripts, making the browsing experience safer and less intrusive.
ARC browser also has a set of privacy features that protect users’ personal information and browsing history. It supports multiple search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. It also has an efficient download manager, bookmarks, and tab management tools.
Who is the Browser Company?
I actually jumped over to the Browser Companies website to look up more about the company and who they are.
Guess what – even their ‘Values’ page is unique. Look at this:
Corporate values make me uncomfortable. At least that’s my reason for why it’s taken us so long to get them down on paper.
It’s specifically the emptiness and the prescriptiveness of it that makes me uncomfortable. The ego of telling someone else how to show up, how to do what they do and the risk of cynicism if you don’t get it exactly right.
We’re building a company after all, not an ideology. What then is there to ask of each other beyond “work hard and treat one another fairly.”Josh – The Browser Company
As someone who has worked for a heap of different agencies and big companies over the years, I can completely relate to this. Take the time to head over to their values page, it’s really insightful and unique.
Why it’s the Perfect Browser for Chrome Users
If you’re a Chrome user, and you’re fed up with how laggy your browser feels, I think ARC is the perfect option to jump across to.
You can quickly import all your settings and bookmarks, and you’ll be right at home using the tab button to search your favorite websites. (something I use more and more).
Probably the thing that always stopped me from moving to Safari full-time were certain extensions I needed (like the Pixel helper tool). Obviously, there are some workarounds to make extensions work, but it was just easier to stick with Chrome.
As much as I love Safari on my iPhone, I’ve always been a Chrome guy on my Desktop. When I checked out ARC’s initial release, I knew it was going to be a huge success. It looked awesome, it was fun, and all the things I loved about Chrome were there too.
Feels Super Lightweight
I’m not a programmer, and I literally wouldn’t know the first thing about coding. Here’s what I do know though – ARC feels way snappier than Chrome. I know that ARC is built off the Chromium backend, so in theory, it should feel similar to Chrome, but there’s a HUGE difference in speed. (I use an M1 MBP, in case you were wondering).
I actually use a variety of browsers day to day in my Digital Marketing role, and without question, ARC feels a million times faster than anything else I’m using. Even opening the app is ultra snappy.
I have several extensions running that I need for various digital ad platforms, and I never notice any issues with slow speeds to open new tabs, loading videos or downloading content. It’s such a great experience.
I’ve had the occasional freeze-up, but that was early on and most of those minor bugs seem to get fixed with each update. I’m not sure what kind of wizardry the ARC developers have done, but the whole browser feels so lightweight and it runs rings around anything else I’ve used in the past.
It’s also using a lot less RAM than Chrome used to use, so if you’re on an older system, you’ll enjoy the benefit of having more resources freed up.
Updates Every Thursday
The Browser Company is really taking its new browser seriously. I’ve been seeing a new update every Thursday at this stage.
The thing I really like is the fact that they make the update front and center, so you know what’s changed and what they’re rolling out. I actually look forward to seeing the pop-up – because there’s usually some interesting new way to improve the browser each week.
The update comes via a tab (easel) in your sidebar, and you look through all the previous updates.
No more spammy pop-ups!
I’ve never installed an ad blocker on my browser. I’m not really sure why, I just never got around to it.
But since I swapped to ARC, I can honestly say I’ve barely had a pop-up or an annoying redirect URL. If ad-blocking is something you look for, I think ARC will make you feel warm and fuzzy.
The cool thing is, I didn’t have to manually turn on any settings either, all the tracking and ad blocking was already enabled out of the box.
It does however interfere with Facebook Ads, which is something I spent a big chunk of my day on. It doesn’t stop me from creating the ads, it’s just a warning message inside the ads manager. No biggie, but worth mentioning all the same.
Split Screen is Awesome, But I Don’t Use it
When I first stumbled across the Split Screen mode, I was really impressed at how well thought it is. Having the option to run WordPress and Google Docs side by side is incredibly handy, but for whatever reason, I just never use it.
Guess I’m just a full-screen kind of guy.
I could see it being a game changer for anyone who does stock or crypto trading though, maybe having multiple tabs side by side to compare stats and figures as they update. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing feature to have built-in, but I personally need the full-screen experience because I spend most of my day in Facebook Ads Manager and Google Ads.
Both of these work best in a full-screen option.
Using the Split Screen mode is a piece of cake, you simply click on the three small dots in the top right-hand corner and click either the side-by-side or top/bottom option. Then you’ll have two pages open and you can resize each window by clicking and dragging.
Boosts 2.0 Are a Game Changer
Okay, so, Boosts are SICK!
I think Boosts are going to change the website game forever.
It’s a fun and simple way to customize the look and feel of any website, with the ability to share it with anyone you like. Here’s a quick video where I explain how they work:
P.S. You can even download an MKBHD version of YouTube. Super cool!
WorkSpaces Keep Things Clean
If you use your computer for both work and play, you’ll love swapping between ‘spaces’ in ARC.
Here’s how it works:
- Click the small icon (looks like a planet) along the bottom section of the taskbar:
- Give the Space a name. “Lukes Work Space” for example.
- Then, if you want a second or third space, click the plus symbol to the right-hand side
- Create a new space, and give that a name and color
- Now, when you want to move between spaces, simply two-finger swipe anywhere in the open section of your tabs
- Bada-bing, bada-boom – you’ve made a work-and-play zone in ARC!
You can bookmarks, pinned sites, and more in each Space. Perfect if you want to keep work and play separate from each other.
Screen Capturing Is So Good
I love the screen-capturing tools inside ARC. I use them for blogging, note-taking, and creating new easels for sharing. You can either use a keyboard shortcut or you can click the small camera icon in the URL bar.
What’s really neat is you can snap a selected area of your screen to capture. Meaning you only capture that exact part of a website, and nothing else. It’s like screen captures on steroids.
It’s hard to explain, so I made a short gif so you can see what I’m talking about:
There’s also the option to screen capture an entire website, so if you’re in UX or you do anything to do with website design, you’ll find this option incredibly helpful.
Syncing Open Tabs Between Devices
I use multiple computers throughout my day. I know, I know… it’s nerdy. But I routinely work between an MBP 13″ and an M2 Mac mini (that I use for video editing). Having a browser that opens all my tabs on each computer is SO handy – you have no idea how much I love it.
Here’s an example:
I was editing a video with veed.io for my Amazon Influencer content. I needed to grab a file from my MBP, so I open ARC, and boom – veed.io was already open ready for me to upload the file. Such a great feature that keeps everything in sync.
I love that I can jump on any machine and all the tabs I had open are ready to go. No need to log in and start the process all over again.
Very very useful feature IMO.
Best File Manager I’ve Used
Chrome, Sarafi and Firefox all have download folders and a list of all your recently added files. But ARC has set the benchmark for how you access those new files.
Once the file downloads to your machine, you can hover over this little Library icon:
And all your recently added files will spiral open. Clicking it will slide out a whole new view section where you can all of your files from the past few weeks.
Above the downloads area, you’ll also have the Media page.
This is where all your images and videos reside. You can open them directly in the browser or right-click to see where they are on your computer.
The mini ARC browser is a great idea
The mini pop-out mini browser in ARC is such a great idea. Basically, whenever you visit a site that pops out a second window (think Gmail, whenever you click a link) – you get a second window overlay you can interact with.
Here’s an example:
Notice the small icon in the top right corner of the Gmail icon. It updates to whatever website you open.
You can also make the mini browser pop out into its own window by clicking the shortcut in the top right corner. It’s only a small thing, but it makes the whole experience feel really slick.
It’s why I love ARC so much. There are hidden features and thoughtful ideas in every corner. Small tweaks here and there that make the whole web experience so much better.
One thing I don’t like
No software is perfect, and there is one thing that still bugs me about ARC Browser. When I moved all my bookmarks from Chrome, they neatly organized themselves in ARC browser at the top of the left-hand sidebar.
When I go to a site that’s in my Favorites, (say, theverge.com) it automatically opens my Favorites, scrolls all the way down the list, and shows me my Favorite in the sidebar. I find that annoying because I tend to lose all the other tabs I had open and can’t work out if I should scroll up or down to find what I was working on in another tab.
I know it’s a small thing, but I wish I could turn it off.
TBH, I should probably just clean up my Favorites – but c’mon, ain’t nobody got time for that!
ARC Company, if you read this blog, find a way to improve the favorites and auto scroll please 🤣.
Okay, rant over, let’s move on!
No Windows Version Yet – But It’s Coming
ARC has announced a Windows version is coming in the near future. The early version of the software looks really cool. You can check out a video the Browser Company released here:
There’s also a version coming to Android, but I’m more interested in the Windows version right now because I do lite gaming on my Win11 machine.
The iPhone App is Okay…
I was excited when the Browser company announced they were bringing out an iPhone version of the browser. I have spent some time with it, but right now it still can’t replace Safari as my default browser.
Using FaceID to log into various sites and checking out with Apple Pay is why I love Safari so much, and until the day rolls around that ARC can do those things, I’ll have to stick with Safari.
The iPhone app is really fast and there are absolutely no problems with it, it’s just the convenience of using Apple’s biometrics that keeps me on Safari.
One thing that I do love about ARC on mobile is the fact that they kept the address bar at the bottom of the screen. I hate having to reach all the way to the top of my iPhone 13 Pro Max to type in an address. Again, just a small thing.
I don’t typically write blog posts just for the sake of it, and the Browser Company didn’t pay me to write this post. I just really like ARC. It’s easily the best browser I’ve used in the last 10 years, and more people need to get onto it.
If you’re a Chrome or Firefox user, and you want to try something new and intuitive, get ARC. You won’t ever go back to using Chrome again I promise lol.
If you need an invite, I’ve got a few available – just shoot me an email and I’ll send it over.
So there we go. ARC is really done something special, there are a lot of new big ideas here, and it’s the best web experience in 2023 by a long shot.
I hope you found this long-term review helpful and be sure to check out my initial review here.