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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Glass app trumps Instagram by bringing its photo-sharing network to iPad

Instagram's move away from its photographic core has left a spot open for enthusiast-friendly photo-sharing apps like Glass – and now that new contender has brought its glossy, magazine-like experience to iPad.

Glass 2.0 is now available for iPads running iPadOS 14.0 or later, although you'll still need to pay the monthly £4.49 / $ 4.99 or £24.99 / $ 29.99 annual subscription to access it. There's a two-week free trial to give you a taster, though.

As we discovered in our exclusive interview with the makers of Glass, this membership fee is partly a result of the developers' decision to forego venture capital investment, with the aim being to create a sustainable community.

Given what's happened to Instagram, and many other pretenders to its photographic throne, this seems a wise move – and the arrival of an iPad app in particular supports the idea of a photo-centric sharing space. 

The larger screen gives you a better view of painstakingly-crafted shots, and many photographers use iPads anyway as part of their in-the-field editing workflow thanks to apps like Lightroom. Strangely, Instagram has never launched a dedicated iPad app and, last year, said that one is unlikely to arrive anytime soon.

Since its launch six months ago, Glass has added new features including categories and 'appreciations' for liking photos, but there's no algorithm running behind it to organize your feed. Instead, you get the chronological feed that Instagram has hinted will be returning to its app in 2022.

The Glass team will also be launching a web-based version of its app, to rival the likes of Flickr, with a beta version expected to arrive in March or April.

Analysis: A pricey but polished Instagram alternative 

The Glass app on iPad

(Image credit: Glass)

Our early experience with the Glass iPad app is that it's a little buggy, with the app having a tendency to crash on our iPad Air. But we're sure these wrinkles will be ironed out and the app certainly has potential on the bigger screen of Apple's tablets.

Sadly, there's no Android version in the works just yet, with Glass' maker stating that its focus is currently on launching Glass for Web over the next few months. But if you're an iOS fan and photographer, the free trial is certainly worth a spin.

There is currently a gap between Instagram – which we've previously argued is broken for photographers – and veteran platforms like Flickr, which is big on community but lacks the polish of Glass.

There's no doubt the £4.49 / $ 4.99 monthly or £24.99 / $ 29.99 subscription fee is pretty high and could be off-putting for anyone who's bank balance is currently enduring death by a thousand subscriptions.

But the flip-side is that the ad-free Glass is being developed by a small team of photography enthusiasts who are keen to avoid the bloat and e-commerce traps that have lured Instagram away from its photographic heritage.

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