Discovering Arc, a web browser full of original ideas

In the ever-growing list of alternative browsers, I suggest Bow ! This newcomer, still in development, is currently in private beta, with an invitation system to gradually open up the number of users. Like many others, it is based on Chromium (Google’s rendering engine), but it is distinguished by a rather impressive list of new ideas. Its designers have redesigned the classic interface of a web browser and added so many features that it can be difficult to navigate at first.

Rainbow in action, here with a green theme.

A surprising interface

To begin with, the general organization of the browser abandons the format that has been imposed over the years on all applications of the category. Arc forgets the tab bar at the top of the window, just as it reduces the place of the bar used to display the URL of the current page and the search field. The app instead opts for a sidebar on the left of the window for all these elements, picking up an old popular idea at a time from OmniWebbut that is pushed much further here.

Therefore, in this sidebar, you will find the domain name of the current page (1) and a click displays the full address of the website, as well as a text field for a search, I will return to it shortly. Above you will find two discrete arrows to navigate the history, as well as a first contextual menu that hides in particular a command to reload the page (2). Further in this sidebar, you will find all open tabs, in the form of a list (3). Pinned tabs also appear above (4) and all these elements are connected with a “space” shown between the two (5)… we will also come back to this later.

The Arc sidebar contains all the essential information for a web browser.

At the bottom of the sidebar, the “+” button can create a new tab. Arc, however, includes all the keyboard shortcuts expected in macOS, and the same command is thus logically associated with ⌘T. Using it will activate a dialog box in the center of the window: an interface similar in spirit to the command palettes found in many applications, especially development-oriented ones.

This interface replaces the URL bar provided by most web browsers.

This dialog works like the URL bar in other browsers. Here you can type or paste the path of a web page and display it immediately in the new tab. You can also enter a term and start a search with the engine defined by default. Arc will also search through all open tabs to suggest them and even in its browsing history to suggest links that might match your search.

Here I’ve entered some terms and Arc defaults to open my chosen search engine (first row), but also displays things pulled here from my browsing history.

The same interface also appears when you click on the domain name of the current page in the sidebar or when using the standard keyboard shortcut ⌘L. The difference then is that the full URL of the current page is displayed first, but nothing prevents you from replacing it with another link or a search. In this case, you will not create a tab, the current one will be replaced by the new question. At this point, Arc works like other browsers, only its presentation differs from what we are used to seeing.

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