I Tried Arc on Windows: Likeable but Can It Replace My Current Browser?

In Short
  • Arc browser offers a distinct UI with a vertical tab navigation and "Spaces" which function like virtual environments within the browser.
  • Arc is under beta testing on Windows and some key features like Boosts and AI-powered features are missing in action.
  • The Arc browser is quite promising but it was a tad slow to respond in my experience, making me switch back Chrome soon after.

I recently got access to the much-hyped Arc browser on Windows 11. Currently, Arc is under beta testing for the Windows platform so not all features are available. However, I took the plunge and tried to find out what makes Arc a distinctly unique browser. I am a long-time Google Chrome user so it was all the more exciting to test a Chrome alternative that promises a brand-new web browsing experience.

Arc’s UI is Beautiful

What strikes you when you launch the Arc browser is its beautiful UI. The Mica-polished window and title bar remind me of Windows 7’s Aero design. The frosted glass corners have an acrylic translucent blur which enhances the look even further.

Unlike other browsers, Arc combines the title bar and address bar to create a unified user interface. All the controls and menus are on the left sidebar, which can be collapsed to expand the screen further. I’m not sure if I like that but it lets me focus on the content or website open on the browser. It’s quite minimal too as I don’t have a boatload of buttons or extension icons to interact with.

arc browser with sidebar collapsed

On the Windows version, Arc has a centered address bar that can’t be hidden. However, on macOS, the address bar is part of the left sidebar. So when it’s collapsed, you get a much cleaner look and a larger screen space. I hope Arc also gives this choice to Windows users to select their preferred layout.

I Tried Arc on Windows: Likeable but Can It Replace My Current Browser?

Finally, we come to themes that make Arc such a colorful and fun browser. You can choose a color for each space (more on this below) and it’s applied uniformly across the entire UI. There are different color variations for both light and dark themes too, and I’m a fan.

A New Approach to Web Browsing

Novice users may need some time to navigate Arc and learn its useful tricks. Its approach to web browsing is quite different from traditional web browsers, like Chrome or Edge. Arc browser has a vertical tab navigation where your favorite websites, bookmarks, folders, and most importantly, Spaces are organized.

Think of Spaces like virtual environments, but it’s seamlessly integrated into a single window. With a simple two-finger swipe, you can move from one Space to another. Basically, you can access different user profiles from a single window having separate account logins in each Space.

arc browser

For example, in one Space, you can have all your personal and entertainment stuff, and then move to your work environment with a swipe. The transition between various Spaces is elegantly done on Arc, and I simply love it when the theme changes based on the Space you are in.

Apart from that, instead of a new tab, you get a Command Bar where you can search or type in a website. You can also bookmark websites that appear in the left sidebar or you can move them into neat folders. By the way, there is also something called auto-archive, which basically archives all your recently closed and unpinned tabs.

command bar arc browser

The feature helps your sidebar stay clean and uncluttered. In case, you want to open a certain tab after a research spree, you can find it under the archive button. Not to mention, the split view is fantastic on Arc and you can split tabs into four windows. So yes, there is not a dearth of features here. It has the basics all pinned down.

Missing Features on Arc’s Windows Version

As I mentioned above, Arc on Windows is currently under beta testing and most of the headline features are missing in this version. I am looking forward to features like Arc Boosts that let you customize any website, Arc Max to explore all the integrated AI features, Peek Preview, and more.

ask question from webpage arc
AI-powered Site Search | Image Courtesy: Arc

I am particularly waiting for the site search feature that lets you ask descriptive questions by pressing “Ctrl + F” and the Arc browser uses AI to find instant answers from the active webpage. That’s a great way to integrate AI, isn’t it?

Closing Thoughts: Can Arc Replace Chrome on My Windows PC?

While the Arc browser has a lot of potential, and it can really shake up the market, I am waiting for all the features to arrive on the Windows version before passing a final judgment. After many years, we are seeing revolutionary new ways to interact with the web and I’m quite excited about the Arc experience.

That said, performance is something very crucial for users, and in this aspect, Chrome does a great job. In my experience, Arc was a little slow to respond on Windows 11. Arc has been written in Swift on Windows and according to CEO Josh Miller, it’s the “most controversial decision to-date!” Most browsers are written in C++ so there might be performance overhead.

To conclude, the Arc browser may not be the Chrome alternative everyone waited for, but it surely deserves a space of its own. For now, I’m gonna stick to my trusty Chrome browser and wait to see how Arc’s development on Windows pans out. Have you tried the Arc browser?

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