A quick personal review of the Arc browser
Lots of smart people seem to be enjoying using Arc as a browser, so I thought I'd have a quick play.
Arc is presented as a way of making more intentional choices about using the internet, so it fits with the idea of Intentional Technology that we're thinking about at Careful Digital.
In brief, I can see that many people may find Arc useful, but it looks like I won't be one of them. There is a couple of reasons for that.
Firstly, I think there is one fundamental point where I'm on a different wavelength to Arc. Arc is based on the premise of Internet Computing: we do everything in the browser, the browser is the new operating system.
I don't do everything in the browser. I do some stuff in the browser, some stuff in desktop applications, some stuff in apps on my phone. I do that because I want to use the best tool I can find for whatever I'm trying to do, not just whatever is available in the browser. And I want to be able to move as seamlessly as possible between those tools.
With some of the innovations in Arc - the Easel and Notes tools for example - I get the feeling that Arc may become bloated, trying to do a bunch of stuff that isn't browsing well enough but not really well.
I think the audience most likely to benefit from Arc is probably those who are predominantly users of the Google eco-system.
To become more compelling to a wider audience, Arc really needs to work more broadly across operating systems and devices.
Secondly, I'm not sure there is anything hugely compelling in Arc that I can't do with other browsers. (Currently I use Safari mostly and Chrome for some development tasks).
- Spaces: hmm, I've got Tab Groups.. Spaces are a bit more configurable and are more upfront, but..
- Focus Mode: yes this is nicely done on Arc, it's quite hard to emulate the removal of browser UI stuff.
- Split View: yes I can't do that at the moment, but hmmm.. why do I really want to do that?
- Closing tabs automatically: yes, I'm sure it would be very useful for some but I do that myself as part of the process
It looks like Arc is well-funded, and canny in knowing how to get its message out. No bad thing in either case, because they are fighting for space with some pretty entrenched incumbents. And I very much like the focus on focus and intentionality. And I really like trying new things, some of the time at least.
But I do need compelling reasons to fully explore something new.
So I'm passing for now...
The Intentional Technology Newsletter...
... will help you use technology with focus and enjoyment.