Arc is building an AI agent that browses on your behalf


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For years, Google (or any other search engine) has been the main gateway for people to discover websites and other content. The Browser Company, which makes the Arc Browser, is on a quest to change that by building an AI that surfs the web for you and gets you the results while bypassing search engines.

The company laid out its product roadmap, which talks about releasing a new tool in the next few months where you can tell the browser what you are looking for and it will present you relevant information by automatically crawling the web.

In a video released today, Josh Miller, the co-founder and CEO of the company, shows that users will be able to type something like “Reservation for two people at either Llama Inn or Kings Imperial,” and the browser will return results with available time slots — that will be available in the coming months. Then users can reserve a table by going to a particular website with one click.

The product plan

The company has already started some of this work. The company said only some of these features use LLMs, but they all work in an effort to “bring the internet to you.”

Earlier this week, it released a new iPhone web browser app called Arc Search. The app has a “browse for me” feature, which reads at least six links related to the topic and creates a new webpage with photos and videos while summarizing the information.

Arc Search result page

Image Credits: Screenshot by TechCrunch

Today, the startup is releasing a feature named “instant links,” which directly takes you to a link rather than returning results from the search engine. For instance, if you search for “Gladiator 2 trailer,” the new feature will directly take you to the trailer on YouTube. This also works on folders, so if you search for something like “Folder of Apple Vision Pro reviews” it will create a folder with stories of Vision Pro reviews from different publications.

Later this month, the company will release a “Live Folder” feature. It will work just like folders, but these folders will be automatically updated when an event like a new blog post occurs. In the video, Miller also shows that you can update filters for folders. Examples include a new story about a topic, or someone mentioning you in the Linear issue tracking tool. It sounds like a mixture of reading RSS feeds and page updates, but we don’t know if it can track changes on a page.

The story arc

Browsers typically make money by making deals with search engines, having their own ad stacks or, in some cases, offering subscriptions. The Browser Company argues that Chrome and other browsers are aligned to have you make more searches so there is more ad money flowing. So it wants to cut the middlepersons and serve you results directly.

Arc Browser wants to change how we browse the web and get results quickly. It also is trying to use AI agents in a different way by not sticking them in a sidebar to write posts. In October 2023, the company released new AI features including renaming tabs and downloaded files and showing a preview summary of a link.

On the flip side, as the role of AI-powered agents rises on the internet, there are questions about how you return value to publishers and blogs whose content you are fetching and summarizing.

Last year, in a video, the company said that it would never sell user data to third parties for money. But it will explore avenues such as Arc for Teams. But it hasn’t announced anything yet.

There is also a debate to be had about how AI selects the “best” results. For different people, the preference might be different and the result may not be the best for them.

Given the rise in popularity of LLMs, startups like OpenAI and Perplexity are pushing people toward getting answers on their platforms. Search players like Google, Microsoft and DuckDuckGo have also leaned into AI-powered search. So Arc feels that the time is ripe to put a new search method in your web browser.



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