Yury Molodtsov

COO and Partner @ MA Family where we help tech companies get into the news

About Me
Twitter ↗
Threads ↗

Why Arc is The Best Browser

Arc reinvented web browsing for the modern Internet. And I’m very thankful.

June 15, 2024

Arc is an alternative Chrome-based browser with a unique interface. It’s become so popular that The Verge reports on pretty minor updates. I switched to it quite early and haven’t looked back.

Browsers are the most important apps we have on our computers right now. Whether you like it or not, the application layer has shifted to the web. But as I wrote back in 2020, browsers haven’t caught up.

Look at Google Chrome right now. It’s essentially the same browser that launched in 2008. The only recent major update was Tab Groups, which happened in 2020 and they are still subpar. For one, groups aren’t persistent and I can’t understand the logic behind this. You create a “Work” group, open a bunch of tabs, close them… and the group disappears. Want to “work” again? Create it, name it, and choose the color. Every time.

Google Chrome
Google Chrome

Google Chrome was invented for web surfing: it lets you open a bunch of almost static web pages and read their content. Now, we have entire apps like Figma, Linear, and Spotify running in web browsers, and Chrome’s interface hasn’t been adapted at all. All Chrome can offer is pinning them as tabs. No considerations have been made to help people manage their tabs.

The development of Chrome’s interface was also remarkably slow and inconsistent. Chrome on Android would get Reading List, iOS wouldn’t, and it’d then take them years to bring this to the desktop and set up syncing. I’ve just tried Chrome’s current Read Mode on desktop, and it can only show you text side-by-side with a page for some reason.

You can also turn PWAs into “desktop” apps. But this option is a bit hidden, and most of Google’s own apps, except Photos and Maps, don’t support it. Where are PWAs for Gmail, Calendar, and Docs? I suppose Google would prefer you to use Chrome, where you’re always a click away from Google Search and its ads.

Now, Chrome isn’t the only browser. But Firefox’s UI is not too different. Safari has its own issues, but at least it offers a cohesive experience. You get a complete browser out of the box, with a fantastic Reading Mode (still best in class), a synced Reading List, and much better Tab Groups. Now, because Apple isn’t great at cloud, the two previous features just stopped working properly for me for a few major MacOS versions, but right now, they do work. Plus, browser extensions are quite important to me, and even though Safari adopted the same standard as Chrome and Firefox, developers still need to do separate work to distribute them.

But at its core, Safari can only offer pinned tabs (which are incredibly small squares). It can also suddenly kill your Google Meet tab with an active call because it “consumes too many resources” (this happened to me).

I often hear the claim that companies don’t need to invest in their iOS browsers because they still have to use Safari’s Webkit. I don’t buy it at all. For one, Brave has been pretty good at creating a nice experience across all platforms, as I outlined in a different post.

What Makes Arc Different

Arc became the first credible and ambitious attempt to reinvent web browsing that was actually able to get traction. It wasn’t the only one or the first one. I listed some options here. Some of them died, some dragged on.

Arc’s most important part is its sidebar. And vertical tabs! At first, you might feel like you’re losing too much space. But most websites right now don’t take as much width anyway, except for the likes of Webflow or Figma. Everything else looks fine, even on a 13’ MacBook. In return, you can keep lots of tabs open and still see most of the titles. Out of major browsers, only Edge and Brave offer vertical tabs now.

In the sidebar, you get three distinctive groups of tabs.

The first is for the favorites, but I mostly use it for applications: email, calendar, Spotify, Notion, Readwise Reader, Google Docs, and anything I use constantly. When you close such a tab, its instance is terminated, but the icon stays there in the same position as a bookmark. Mouse targets are generous and don’t take up too much space.

Next go the bookmarks. Anything you’d like to have handy, but now you get the titles. And you can put them in folders. One of the adoption hurdles for Arc is that it doesn’t get traditional separate Bookmarks, so I put mine right here. The persistence is also there.

Only then do you get traditional tabs that you lose when you close them. Arc treats them so harshly that they are automatically closed after some time, which can’t be more than a month (a bit excessive if you ask me).

On top of this, Arc offers Spaces, which are essentially tab groups. You can create multiple spaces that would share your Favorites but have dedicated Bookmarks and Tabs. I have one for primary browsing, one for sales, one for reading the media and one for software development.

There’s a joke that there are two groups of people. The first has no more than 5 tabs, the second has no less than two hundred. Arc is perfect for both, but especially for tab hoarders.

On top of this, Arc offers multiple quality-of-life improvements:

  1. You can switch between tabs in a loop with a quick preview, just like you switch between apps with Cmd-Tab (Alt-Tab).
  2. The autocomplete in the new tab popover prioritizes currently opened tabs, so you can switch by typing part of their name.
  3. There’s a shortcut to copy the current URL, which I probably use 20 times a day.
  4. You can click a button and sort all of your opened tabs by categories, creating order out of chaos.
  5. You get little custom benefits, like picture-in-picture for Google Meet, always available media controls, countdowns to your next meeting with Google or Notion Calendar, etc.

One criticism I sometimes hear about Arc is that it’s based on Chromium. Nobody cares. Chromium is the most advanced browsing engine, powering most apps people use. And it’s definitely not IE6, especially not the one I remember. IE6 was a bad browser that held the entire web development industry hostage. Chrome was the first to implement many standards. It won. Give up.

Then, we have the obvious challenge of monetization. Safari has Apple, Chrome has Google, Mozilla has… erm, Google, and Brave has their own ads on the blockchain. Arc is built by the Browsing Company, a venture-backed startup that needs to grow and either IPO (seems ambitious) or sell. The only way I see this happening is a subscription for advanced features, probably with a team collaboration angle.

But I’ve worked with a company utilizing this exact path and can say it’s not easy. Arc indeed got a great PMF score from me, but I’m wondering if they will be able to offer such compelling features enough that people would pay.


I haven’t been this excited about the browser in a long time. But at the end of the day, we have just one outlier, and I wish Arc all the best.

Comment on Twitter

Subscribe to my blog and get new posts delivered right to your inbox


June 6, 2024
Can Markets Regulate Themselves?

Sometimes, governments regulate markets. And sometimes, market participants regulate themselves. The outcome can be surprisingly different; thankfully, we have several examples that can serve as case studies.

May 18, 2024
Why Execution Eats Ideas For Lunch

Most people tend to overvalue ideas and undervalue execution. In my experience, that holds even for many people in the tech industry. Yet it couldn’t have been further from the truth. Let me tell you about a product that allowed you to easily create and manage your own relational databases together with your team members. It’s not Airtable but their early competitor.

April 5, 2024
The Unsettling Battle Between Media and Technology

There’s a lot of antagonism between the media and tech. But most of it is produced by a small minority of people with outsized voices, so it doesn’t exactly reflect reality.

March 5, 2024
The Unstoppable EU and The Immovable Apple

Apple is hell-bent on standing its ground against any attempts to limit their control over the AppStore. As a result, they might see governments worldwide legislating their product experience, and the result will likely be far worse both for them and their users.

November 23, 2023
Why AI Doomerism is Flawed and Misguided

The Internet favors simple opinions, meaning we're stuck between AI dommers and e/acc people. And yet the most urgent and interesting questions relate not to its potential capacity to kill us all, but rather mundane things.

November 7, 2023
My Default Apps

Here's the list of apps and services I like and use daily.

November 3, 2023
Communicating with Numbers

If you can find a figure that makes your business more appealing than competitors, you should run with it.

November 1, 2023
Does Blogging Even Work?

Blogging is still the most reliable way of broadcasting your thoughts without being at the whims of someone’s algorithm.

October 24, 2023
Why Superhuman Is Worth $30

I pay $30 a month for my email client. And I think it’s worth it because it’s excellent and there aren’t many alternatives, unfortunately.

October 8, 2023
Uber is Good, Actually

A conventional taxi is similar to a tourist-trap restaurant that you will never visit again. Uber leverages technology to become an arbiter between you and the collective of drivers so they can provide a better service.

September 9, 2023
Basecamp is a Contrarian Marketing Operation

Basecamp is well-known not because of its product but because its founders heavily leverage marketing and communications, eventually turning into contrarian marketing machines producing edgy posts and starting crusades just to get everyone’s attention.

August 29, 2023
Web Apps Are Better Than No Apps

There’s a certain community in tech that’s very vocal about their preference toward native apps. I share that sentiment, yet sometimes people take this idea too religiously. Unfortunately, the actual choice is about having an app or not, and I'd rather take something over nothing.

August 19, 2023
Sorry, But Google Meet Is Better Than Zoom

It seems that we're finally getting out of this weird period of collective gaslighting where people tried to convince everyone Zoom was the best conference app out there.

August 15, 2023
Finalist: A Simpler To-do App

Finalist is built for people who liked keeping all their tasks in Apple Notes but wanted it just a bit more structured.

August 12, 2023
Omnivore Review: An Underrated Read-Later App

I sometimes see people using Pocket, Instapaper, or Safari’s Reading List even though all of them have been practically abandoned and the first two definitely don’t deserve a subscription. I reviewed Readwise Reader and Matter earlier, but they only work properly if you pay. It’s not for everyone, so I wanted to tell you about Omnivore, a rapidly-developed read-later app.

July 25, 2023
What Is Elon Musk

I’m a bit tired of how people let their existing opinion on Elon paint their entire image of him yet I myself struggle to define his actions.

July 20, 2023
I Wish Bear Hadn’t Wasted Years

Bear emerged as the flagship notes app, but then lost its lead because of technical debt. I doubt their latest update makes them competitive right now.

July 15, 2023
You Can Compete By Being Competent

Perfect your execution. This is the part you fully control. It won’t save you when the results aren’t there, but it can help sustain the relationship while you wait for them.

July 12, 2023
How To Recognize Grifters

Serious people list facts. Grifters list tags that can elevate their social status.

July 11, 2023
Facebook Went Meta, But Google Isn’t Alphabet

Google called itself Alphabet for corporate reporting purposes, Facebook rebranded to Meta because their business had changed.

July 7, 2023
Why Privacy Is Overrated

I’m not against privacy, and I understand why people might not want someone to track web pages or apps they use. But it’s important to remember that there’s a trade-off and be prepared for the outcome.

July 5, 2023
The PR Flywheel: What It Can And Can’t Do For Your Business

People often think that PR and communications alone can help them achieve their goals and end up surprised when it doesn’t move the needle as much as they wanted. In fact, it’s a bit more complicated. PR is only a part of the virtuous circle.

June 20, 2023
You Can't Work On An iPad

Modern iPads are marvelous machines. But their software is too limited and unrealiable for them to replace your computer despite over a decade of innovation.

May 18, 2023
Why Algorithmic Feeds Can Be Good

People like to say they prefer chronological feeds to algorithmic ones. The actual problem is we rarely see good algorithms built to help us and not drive engagement. But I’d love to see a social network giving me tools to catch up on the people I care about.

May 1, 2023
Why Micropayments Don’t Work And People Hate Paywalls

Customers want micropayments but they're a bad option for news organizations. What they should do instead is provide us with better paywalls.

April 24, 2023
Touch the Glass: Finding a Better Home for Your Photos

The painful journey of photographers looking to find the best avenue to post their photos online and the lock-in exacerbated by subscriptions.

April 20, 2023
How to Use Virtual Backgrounds for Meetings in a Non-Cringe Way

Virtual backgrounds might look goofy but if you use them right you can definitely improve your picture without spending $5000 on a DSLR and a shelf full of books to be your background.

March 26, 2023
Raindrop Review: Better Bookmarks For Twitter And YouTube

Twitter, YouTube, and many other services have built-in bookmarks and playlists encouraging you to save content for later. I encourage you to try using a third-party service instead of them. Raindrop is a great alternative.

March 25, 2023
How to Read Newsletters In An App

Your email app isn't the best way to read newsletters. Especially if you're subscribed to dozens of them. Try a separate app for this.