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New Web browsers integrate AI into feature list

Arc and Brave join the mainstream in search to find best implementations of artificial intelligence
Image: Vlada Karpovich via Pexels

30 January 2024

The generation of new Web browsers is adding helpful AI assistants to make their products more convenient and relevant. Chrome, Safari and Firefox can’t be left behind.

The updates that Arc and Brave made last week are just illustrative of the trend.

Brave added Mixtral’s language model to its own search engine. This allows users to get both normal search results and a – call it – reasoned one. The computer then provides solutions in the form of a dialogue. Useful for software writers, for example. In addition, the privacy-friendly browser got a feature that “understands” what is on the Web page one is currently reading. You can therefore ask the chat assistant ‘Leo’ questions and get back neatly worded answers.

Web browser Arc chose to work with OpenAI for new AI features. For example: hovering over a hyperlink and then getting a mini, point-by-point summary of the page, asking questions about the page you’re reading and a built-in ChatGPT link. Last week, it linked to the AI search engine Perplexcity. As a user, you no longer get a page of links as an “answer,” but a written-out page with a textually rich answer supported by hyperlinks. A world of difference.

Arc’s new iOS browser does something similar with its built-in search engine.

These kinds of extras to Web browsers seem like the beginning of a search. A quest that may lead to a redefinition of what a browser is and should be able to do. When third party AI technology starts answering search questions in the browser, Google will have to rethink its role as an “information provider. Perhaps the page with links and ad blocks has had its day.

It’s not just Arc and Brave that are adding AI features to their browsers. Their updates are only the latest in a series that has been going on for some time at other parties. Also at Microsoft, with its Edge browser. Of the larger vendors, Microsoft is furthest along because of the addition of Copilot.

This page describes the AI updates from SigmaOS, Opera and Wavebox, for example. They all boil down to adding chat features to the browser to ask questions that lead to answers in natural language.

Chrome, Safari and Firefox are seemingly keeping their AI cards on the chest for a while longer.

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