This new AI-powered iPhone browser trumps Safari by searching the web for you

Sick of struggling to find the answers to your search queries in Safari, Chrome, or any of the other best browsers on iOS? A new alternative has just emerged that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to do the searching for you, potentially helping you find accurate results much more quickly.

Called Arc Search, the app is made by The Browser Company of New York, an outfit that has also made the desktop Arc browser that captured headlines in 2023. With Arc Search, the developer has added a bunch of interesting features that could see it supplant your current favorite browser on your iPhone.

First among them is the app’s 'Browse for Me' feature. When you enter a search query, you can view a standard page of results in your search engine of choice, or you can instead tap the Browse for Me button. This uses AI to gather information from six different sources, then builds a custom web page that displays all the key information you need to answer your search query.

This can include useful photos and videos, bullet-pointed text, and more. It’s a clever way to pull in information from a variety of sources and ensure you stand a good chance of getting what you need at the first attempt, without having to endlessly scroll through useless information and unhelpful websites.

Privacy protections

The Arc Search web browser for iOS running on an iPhone, with various search results displayed.

(Image credit: Future)

Arc Search comes with other handy features besides Browse for Me. For instance, you can tell it to block ads, trackers and GDPR cookie banners on all websites. That’s a great way to protect your privacy by default, although it’s not clear if the app actually opts out of cookies on GDPR banners or simply hides them.

Arc Search will also automatically archive inactive tabs after one day, which might come in handy for people who struggle to control their tab overload (such as yours truly). And there’s a reader mode that strips out unnecessary visual elements to give you a more focused experience.

Some of features aren’t available in Browse for Me, though. For instance, you can’t share your custom pages or copy a link to them, nor can you view them in reader mode. Perhaps these tools will come later.

Regardless, Arc Search is an intriguing alternative to the usual suspects when it comes to iOS browsers, and could make its own claim to the best browser title if it continues to add interesting features. If you want to try it out, it’s free to download on the iOS App Store with no subscriptions or in-app purchases to worry about.

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Bing AI is rolling out to Chrome and Safari, but the experience may not be as good

Following up on recent teases, Microsoft is expanding browser support for Bing AI, giving Google Chrome and Safari access to the chatbot – with some limitations. The third-party experience won’t be the same as Bing Chat on Microsoft Edge

In a recent report, Windows Latest states the character count for the AI prompts have been cut in half, from 4,000 on Edge to now 2,000 on Chrome. Conversations with the chatbot will be considerably shorter as the third-party version will only allow you to engage in five messages with the AI before resetting everything. The normal amount is 30. Also, Bing will push you to download Edge if you haven’t done so already on your Chromebook. If you already have the browser, choosing the download option simply launches it. 

In addition to the roll out, Microsoft is adding a new dark mode option for the chatbot. The theme will match your system preferences by default, but you can manually change them yourself in the Settings menu.

Future updates

It’s unknown if Bing Chat on Safari will be exactly the same. Microsoft has yet to make an official announcement regarding the patch outside of a small notice, so we can’t say for sure if any tweaks are being made. We reached out to the tech giant for clarification as well if it has plans to expand Bing AI access to other browsers, namely Firefox. This story will be updated if we hear back.

As for the future of the AI, it looks like Microsoft is putting everything in the hands of people. Another Windows Latest report claims the company has been sending out feedback forms to various users on mobile asking what features they would like to see. Apparently, one of the new changes will see Bing recommend certain AI apps or tools for people to try out. 

Another potential upgrade could see the AI mimic the personalities of famous people like billionaire Elon Musk. Microsoft reportedly claims mimicking people will result in a “more engaging experience”.

We’ll let you know if Bing undergoes any personality changes. So far, it’s the same artificial intelligence we all know. Until then, check out TechRadar’s list of the best AI content generators for 2023

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Apple makes Safari more private on the iPhone with iOS 17’s powerful new feature

Apple is striking another blow in the name of privacy by adding Link Tracking Protection to select iOS 17 apps, which will make it easier for users to keep their data private while browsing the web on their iPhone.

Link tracking identifiers are a collection of numbers and letters typically appended towards the end of a link as a way for websites to keep track of users as they move around the web. It’s most often used for ad tracking, as well as a substitute for third-party cookies. When Apple’s iOS 17 rolls out, Link Tracking Protection will prevent advertisers from bypassing privacy features simply because they are typically targeted toward cookies. It'll be enabled on Mail, Messages, and Safari's Private Browsing mode.

It is worth noting that you can still remove link-tracking identifiers by yourself by selecting and deleting the offending characters. However, with the identifiers often being quite long, many users simply wouldn’t bother, and Apple is just streamlining the otherwise tedious process.

“Privacy is designed into every new Apple product and feature from the beginning,” Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, said in a press release announcing the feature. “We are focused on keeping our users in the driver’s seat when it comes to their data by continuing to provide industry-leading privacy features and the best data security in the world.

“This approach is evident in a number of features on our platforms, like the major updates to Safari Private Browsing, as well as the expansion of Lockdown Mode.”

A more private iOS

Compared to rival operating system Android, iOS has always been the more privacy and security-focused option, and iOS 17 furthers that. Apple put a stop to AirDrop flashing with Communication Safety, preemptively halted explicit contact posters, and beefed up Safari’s Private Browsing with an additional level of authentication. These are all subtle yet meaningful improvements – something that could be said for the iOS 17 update as a whole.

Apple is currently testing iOS 17 for developers, with a public preview slated for July. A full release of iOS 17 is expected to start rolling out to the best iPhones around September, to coincide with the launch of the iPhone 15.

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Microsoft’s Bing AI chatbot spotted in Safari and Chrome with new features

Microsoft’s Bing AI is about to appear in all major web browsers according to a new report.

This comes from Windows Latest, which tells us that according to sources, the Bing chatbot will no longer be exclusive to Edge, but will be available in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox – all the main browsers – at some point this week (in a few days apparently).

Take that with a pinch of seasoning, naturally, but we already heard from Mikhail Parakhin, Microsoft’s head of Advertising and Web Services, last week, who informed us that “hopefully” the first experiments in enabling third-party browsers would be happening soon.

So, it seems that hope is now a reality, or is about to become one, with Windows Latest further reporting that Microsoft actually tested Bing AI in Apple’s Safari browser over the past weekend.

If you blinked, you’d have missed this, though, as the test was a brief one.

Windows Latest also received an email through, apparently sent to some Bing AI mobile users, which mentions new features inbound for the AI. That includes the idea of “characters with personalities in Bing AI”, meaning a more in-depth choice than the simple creative, precise, or balanced personalities that currently grace the chatbot.

Microsoft is also planning to lift some restrictions, we’re told, so that could mean longer chat sessions with Bing AI are on the way, perhaps.

Analysis: Sarcastic mode? Oh yes, that’s real likely, we’re sure…

Windows Latest actually got to use Bing AI in the Safari test, and reports that it’s much the same experience as using the chatbot in Microsoft’s Edge browser. That’s pretty much what we’d expect, of course – there’s no reason it would be meaningfully different.

As we’ve discussed previously, it makes more sense for Microsoft to focus on driving usage of the Bing chatbot, than it does to use the bot as a lure to get people to switch to the Edge browser.

Yes, Edge is doubtless very important to Microsoft, but having its AI outgun Google’s Bard is surely a far more important consideration. And so having Bing AI in all the big browsers will help to that end, though we weren’t expecting this to happen quite as soon as this week. That would clearly indicate this is a real priority for Microsoft.

As for the idea of more varied personalities, this was something hinted at before in the very early days of Bing AI. Windows Latest points to leaked personalities that include ‘friendly’ and ‘sarcastic’ modes, though in the latter case, we’re skeptical as to whether this might be in the works.

Granted, sarcastic mode would be entertaining, certainly. But when folks have tried to get entertainment out of Bing AI in the past, pushing its buttons and boundaries, Microsoft has done its best to limit the chatbot’s more off-the-wall responses, and we’re not sure we see that changing anytime soon.

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Chrome on Mac is apparently now faster than Safari

Google has announced that the latest version of its Chrome browser is faster than ever for Mac users.

The company says that its new Chrome M99 release for Mac has achieved greater speeds than ever before as it looks to streak ahead of its rivals.

A raft of improvements and optimizations now means that Chrome is 7% faster than the current builds of Safari, the company claims, alongside a 15% difference in graphics performance.

Chrome vs Safari

Among the changes to Chrome is ThinLTO, a build optimization technique that inlines speed-critical parts of the code base, even when they span multiple files or libraries.

When it comes to graphics performance, Google highlighted the effect of pass-through decoder and out-of-process rasterization technologies in giving Chrome a boost.

It also mentioned the use of Sparkplug, a new JavaScript compiler that offers a particular boost for Apple M1-based Macs thanks to its ability to generate efficient code with low compilation overhead, and short builtin calls, which are used by JavaScript  to optimize the placement of generated code inside the device’s memory.

Overall, Google says the cumulative effect of all these changes is that Chrome is now 43% faster than it was when it was first launched on M1-based Macs in late 2020.

“We go deep on every platform where Chrome runs to provide the fastest possible experience,” Google's Max Christoff, Senior Director, Chrome Engineering, said in a blog post announcing the news. 

“Every day, billions of people around the world turn to Chrome to get things done quickly on their devices, whether shopping for a new pair of headphones or pulling together a sales report for work. Nothing is more frustrating than having a slow experience while browsing the web. That’s why Chrome has always been focused on building the fastest possible browser since its launch in 2008, without compromising on feature functionality or security.”

Google added that Chrome Android users should also be enjoying a speed boost, with the browser up to 15% faster according to its data due to new optimized navigation technology that prioritizes critical navigation moments.

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Safari may be getting a better dark mode in rumored update for iOS 15

Safari in iOS 15 looks to be getting its own dark mode function, alongside better features for your privacy involving cookies.

Apple's web browser works off an engine called WebKit, similar to how Google's Chrome browser is powered by an engine called Chromium.

But as WebKit is an open-source project hosted on GitHub, which allows any developer to add their programming to the engine, there have been some new features uncovered that may see an appearance in iOS 15.4, or iOS 16.

While there may be a rumored March event coming, it does raise the question of whether more regular updates should appear to Apple's apps, instead of waiting for a major iOS update every year.

Analysis: More regular updates for Safari are very welcome

Safari on iPadOS 15 Beta

(Image credit: Apple)

In the last few years, since iOS 13, Apple has made a concerted effort to roll out more features to its software across multiple releases, instead of aiming to have all of them arrive in one big release alongside the latest iPhone.

iOS 13.4 was a great example where mouse support was brought to the iPad line, alongside the Magic Keyboard peripheral which included a trackpad.

But Safari has had a rough ride recently, with its new design at WWDC 2021 criticized by users, then rolled back significantly once iOS 15 and macOS Monterey were released in September 2021.

There's currently a design that is halfway between what was shown in 2021, and what every Apple user has had since Safari 1.0 in 2007 with the original iPhone.

However, new features such as a custom dark mode and more privacy options could give more faith to users of Apple's web browser that the company isn't focusing on a new look that just wasn't needed or asked for. Instead, there are features coming up that's going to benefit their privacy, and how the browser will look in a different shade of dark.

For that, at least, is a sign that Apple is not only listening to what its users want in software, but also bringing the features out for .1 releases, way before the rumored WWDC event happens in June this year once again and we most likely hear about what the company has in store for its next major software updates.

Via 9To5Mac

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Microsoft Edge set to dethrone Safari in desktop browser rankings

The improvements and new features Microsoft has added to its browser over the years are beginning to pay off as figures show Microsoft Edge is on the verge of surpassing Safari on desktop.

According to data from web analytics service StatCounter, Edge is now used on 9.54% of desktops worldwide, ahead of Firefox with 9.18% and just behind Safari at 9.84%. 

As you may have guessed, Google Chrome still holds the top spot at 65.38%.

Edge vs Safari

While Edge may be catching up to Safari worldwide, in North America it's a different story, as Apple's browser is used on 16.87% of desktops compared to Edge's 11.93% market share.

In Europe and Asia though, Edge has already leapfrogged Safari at 10.9% and 7.46% respectively with Apple's browser used on 9.95% of desktops in Europe and just 5.41% in Asia.

Since Safari is the default browser on Apple's iPhone and iPad, it has a 26.71% of mobile market share worldwide which still pales in comparison to Chrome's 62.06% market share on both iOS and Android.

Although Microsoft Edge has been downloaded over 10 million times on the Google Play Store and the app has 4.6 stars on Apple's App Store, the browser isn't even listed in StatCounter's mobile market share rankings.

Edge Legacy vs Chromium Edge

While Chromium-based Edge was released in 2020, Microsoft originally created Edge Legacy for Windows 10 and the company's replacement for Internet Explorer was unveiled back in 2015. Before then, it was known by its codename “Spartan” in reference to Halo's Master Chief.

Even though Edge Legacy only lasted a short while, Microsoft did port the browser to both Android and iOS in 2017 and included the ability to sync the browser with Windows 10 desktops. In March of last year though, Microsoft ended support for Edge Legacy before replacing its old browser with Chromium-based Edge as part of a cumulative monthly security update.

Following the release of its brand new Edge browser, the software giant has continued to update it with new features and functionality including Vertical Tabs, Collections, Web Capture and more. These efforts may not have dethroned Chrome but they have certainly taken away market share from Safari at least on desktop.

If you haven't given Edge a try yet or only have experience with Edge Legacy, there's never been a better time to test out Microsoft's browser. For those that managed to snag an Xbox Series X, Edge even runs on Microsoft's console and can be used to stream games with Nvidia GeForce Now.

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Fix for critical Safari bug out now: iPhone, iPad and Mac users should update immediately

Apple has rolled out new versions of its iOS, iPadOS and macOS operating system, patching up a major security flaw in Safari across all of its devices.

This bug leaked users' Google data and browsing history that's stored within the browser, so if you're an Apple user, we recommend you update the operating system on your devices immediately.

The updates include iOS 15.3, iPadOS 15.3 and macOS Monterey 12.2, and while they don't add any new features other than “bug fixes and security updates”, they're still “recommended for all users”.

Apple has also released updates for Big Sur and Catalina (v11.6.3 and Catalina Security Update 2022-001 respectively) for anyone still on the older versions of macOS.

All patched up

Those aren't the only software updates released by Apple – watchOS 8.4, tvOS 15.3, and HomePod Software 15.3 have also been rolled out publicly.

The updated watchOS also fixes some bugs, particularly the issue that prevented some Apple Watch 7 users from properly charging their devices when using specific chargers.

Meanwhile, the latest HomePod update adds “performance and stability improvements” and Siri voice recognition for up to six users. It's worth noting that this particular update is region specific and applies to users speaking in English in India and in Italian.

As for the newly updated tvOS, Apple hasn't shared any details on what the latest version brings, but we can assume it's another round of performance improvements.

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Browser wars: Apple’s M1 chips help Safari close the gap on Google Chrome

The success of Apple’s M1 range of silicon could have inadvertently helped drive up the market share of web browser Safari, new data suggests.

The first M1-powered MacBooks were launched in 2020, followed by a series of mobile workstations powered by the M1 Max and M1 Ultra in October, 2021. Both launches were met with critical acclaim.

All Apple devices, of course, come with Safari pre-installed. And according to the latest figures from Statcounter, the company’s browser now accounts for 19.6% of internet activity, up 1.2% in the last three months alone.

While the increase may sound relatively insignificant as a percentage, the raw numbers are much more compelling; data on the total number of web users from Statista suggests Safari has attracted roughly 58 million additional users since the start of October.

A big year for Safari?

The ubiquity of Apple products (iPhones and iPads, as well as Mac devices) means Safari is comfortably the world’s second largest browser, streets ahead of the likes of Microsoft Edge and Firefox.

However, Safari is still nowhere near as widely used as Google Chrome (with 64% market share), which currently has somewhat of a stranglehold on the sector.

That said, the ever-growing popularity of Apple devices and the company’s reputation for high levels of security and data privacy could see Safari begin to close the gap on Chrome this year.

Apple has also been transparent about its efforts to accelerate the adoption of business Macs, which may have a knock-on effect on the size of the Safari user base. Last month, Apple announced it is preparing a device subscription offering whereby businesses will be able to lease MacBooks for as little as $ 30/month.

Although Google executives won’t lose any sleep over the threat posed by Safari just yet, the browser wars appear set to rage on in 2022.

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