AI assistants will be the most important thing to happen in browsers since tabs were invented. Companies large and small want to integrate chatbots in your experience, but they also want to go deeper. Soon, your browser may be able automatically change how a webpage looks and functions and even rewrite words to meet your needs.
One of the most impressive implementations that I’ve seen comes from a company named SigmaOS. They bill themselves as a browser designed for those who are ultra-productive. Airis is a new AI assistant that will work across all browsers. It’s got a lot of organizational tools, and some really wacky keyboard shortcuts. It’s pronounced “iris”, but with AI. Because you have to have AI. Airis lets you ask questions regarding a website. You can highlight any name or phrase, then right-click and choose “Ask Airis”. This will search for the information you have selected. The program will then try to explain the name, concept or phrase in context with the page that you are viewing.
If I asked ChatGPT about Nikola Jokic, it would give me an overview of this Serbian NBA star. When I asked Airis to tell me about Nikola Jokic in an ESPN article previewing the NBA Finals, the AI told me “the author discusses Jokic’s pick-and roll with Jamal Murray as an almost unstoppable combo.” Airis can answer follow-up queries, such as: Who do you think will win the championship according to this author? You can ask questions and receive answers. Airis’ assistant is very good at understanding webpages and answering questions.
Mahyad Ghassemibouyaghchi is the CEO of SigmaOS. He says, “I don’t need to write a complex, massive ChatGPT prompt to say I want to create an Arrabbiata.” “I can simply ask. “You already know the context. I don’t have to do anything extra.”
The browser can deduce a lot of information because it knows what page I am looking at. Ghassemibouyaghchi’s description of Airis’ technology is both simple and clever. It quickly understands important parts of a website, combines that information with your query to form a complicated prompt, then sends this prompt to OpenAI GPT-4’s large language model and feeds back responses. It’s not necessary to create a complex prompt because the information in your question and on the webpage is more than sufficient.
Ghassemibouyaghchi demonstrates Airis as he explains. This includes pulling out the ingredients from a long recipe page and summarizing four key points. “We’re looking at it using our algorithm and building a hierarchical structure, then saying, ‘Okay what are the main points for this person to comprehend?’ It’s similar to trying to explain something to a 5-year-old. You need to give them the most simple information but not omit any important things.”
Airis also allows you to edit and rewrite texts, just like the Google Duet or Microsoft Copilot tools. But because it is built into the browser, it can be used with any textbox on the web. It can even rewrite webpages. At one point, Ghassemibouyaghchi loaded the Wikipedia page on “browser Wars” and clicked a menu option titled “Make it Simpler.” The page began to change and shrink dramatically, making it easier to read. It was not perfect, as with all Airis demos. Some important details were lost and a few sentences became gibberish. The final product was still quite long. It did its job, but not perfectly.
SigmaOS is not the only company that wants to add AI to browsing. Microsoft is adding Bing sidebar into its Edge browser. This will make it easier to access chatbots and search, as well as tools to summarize and rewrite pages. Opera has launched tools for rewriting, summarizing and rewriting webpages. It also offers a sidebar that allows users to access ChatGPT or other bots. The new Edge Sidebar makes it easy to access
In part, this is because browsers are so popular. Most users, especially on desktops or laptops spend the majority of their time using a browser. Microsoft’s new Edge sidebar is a great example of a chatbot that can be easily found.
Browsers can also access everything you do, read, watch, look at and type on the internet. Browser-level AI is therefore more powerful than any other tool. Opera’s PC and gaming EVP, Krystian Kolondra says that you need to be able move seamlessly between services. Take this spreadsheet and make a presentation with AI. AI can be used to glue together all the services that are accessible through the web browser.
It’s easier to say than do. It’s a difficult UI issue because AI is slow and the web is fast. How do bots communicate with one another as apps and search engines all adopt AI features?
It’s also hard to reinvent the browser. Remember how people reacted when Apple moved Safari’s URL bar to the bottom of the screen? It’s an ideal time for innovation. In the last few years, work-from home has become a commonplace phenomenon. Desktop browsers have become the most popular app on many computers. Web apps are gaining popularity as developers and regulators become increasingly frustrated by app stores and cross platform life. Browser makers have finally realized that managing tabs is a pain and need to fix it.
AI is still a mystery, but it could change the way browsers function. Since so long, all browsers look the same, no matter what app you’re using: row of squared off tabs at top, large address bar below, maybe some extensions to the right, and row of bookmarks beneath. Back, Forward and Refresh buttons. Not much more. As AI works to connect services, we may soon see a change in our relationship with tabs.