5 New Ways to Search the Web

Emerging AI-based search systems often leverage large language models to generate explanations, consolidate content from multiple sources or cogently summarize a selected web page. The AI search systems covered below vary as to when they deliver LLM-aided results (ranging from only when you request it to every time) and how much control you have over whether AI is used at all (ranging from no control to quite customizable search settings).

Reader beware: The main issue with LLMs is the content may not always be 100% accurate. So go ahead and explore each of the five search systems listed, but make sure to verify any AI-generated response.

Google’s AI Overviews: Use for some searches

AI Overviews attempts to distill information from multiple sources into a single relevant answer, so you don’t need to sift through pages of links. Or, as Google employees have described it, AI Overviews lets “Google do the Googling for you.”

Like all the tools on this list, it’s new. Google announced AI Overviews, formerly known as Search Generative Experience, at Google I/O 2024.

Initially, an AI Overview is most likely to appear for searches that aid brainstorming, planning or understanding. For example, the screenshot shows the explanation generated in response to a sample query of “What are the chances of seeing a shooting star?” Note that this response features a few relevant links after the initial paragraph.

Google AI Overviews screenshot.
Google.com now provides a clearly marked “AI Overview” in response to some searches. Screenshot: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Google is rolling out AI Overviews as a feature of the company’s free, ad-supported search service available on the web and in mobile apps. It is available only on a subset of searches.

Perplexity: LLM for every search

Perplexity leverages AI for every prompt, unlike Google’s AI Overviews. In some cases, especially when a query may be unclear, Perplexity pauses and prompts you for clarification; typically, this allows the system to tune the response to more accurately meet your question. Responses include easy-to-follow reference links to aid the verification of sources.

Screenshot of Perplexity's AI generated response.
Perplexity delivers an AI-generated response to every question. Screenshot: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

A free account includes a limited number of standard and pro searches; selecting the pro option routes to a better AI model, such as GPT-4o rather than GPT-3.5, for example. A paid upgrade to Perplexity Pro offers expanded access to AI systems, such as GPT-4 or Claude Opus. Perplexity is available on the web and in mobile apps.

Kagi Search: Use AI when you need it

Kagi Search promises tracking-free results with no advertising. The system relies on a variety of sources, including its own web and news indexes and Wolfram Alpha. Kagi significantly filters and sorts the data to deliver relevant results.

Screenshot of LLM-generated results from Kagi.
Kagi provides a Quick Answer generated by an LLM when you specifically select the menu option. Screenshot: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Kagi offers three distinct AI-driven services:

  • Quick Answer: Summarizes a set of search results. This choice is optional and displays as a menu item alongside other filtering and sorting.
  • Summarizer: Creates a summary from a web link or text.
  • FastGPT: Serves as a standard AI chatbot but responds to a single query, in contrast to services such as ChatGPT, which support a series of questions and responses.

Kagi Search is free to try for up to 100 searches, with paid plans available for additional usage.

Arc Search: AI-driven mobile search

Made by The Browser Company, Arc Search is a search-centric AI-enabled app for iPhone. Arc Search includes these three AI features:

  • Browse for me: Takes your search terms (or prompt) and leverages AI to craft the response drawn from several pages of search results. This flips the search experience from first opening a successive series of links to then reading results to one of reviewing the results first, then optionally opening links.
  • Pinch to summarize: In contrast, this feature uses AI to capture the key points found on a single web page.
  • Raise to call: Lets you speak your search and receive a response read by a synthesized voice.
Screenshot of Arc Search iPhone app results.
The Arc Search iPhone app delivers information with relevant links (left), summarizes web page contents (middle) and selectable search service options (right). Screenshots: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Additionally, you may set either Kagi or Perplexity (among other options) as the system’s secondary search engine, which otherwise defaults to Google.

Exa: Search for LLMs and people

Exa primarily seeks to serve the search needs of AI large language models, yet it also provides a browser interface for people to use. Exa works best when you structure your search as a statement. For example, “Here is how start-up founders approach time management” instead of using either a string of keywords or a question. (A setting can allow the system to automatically restructure your prompt if you enter a question.)

Screenshot of Exa Search results.
Exa aims to link to content relevant to the concept, not just the keywords, of a prompt. Screenshot: Andy Wolber/TechRepublic

Exa serves up information you might otherwise need to repeatedly review many web pages to obtain. For example, rather than showing users links to listicles, Exa aims to consolidate the content from those lists and link to that instead.

Three more alternatives to standard search

The field of search remains intensely competitive. In addition to the options covered above, contenders include:

  • Microsoft’s Copilot: Builds on the company’s Bing search engine expertise as a base and offers both free and paid AI search solutions.
  • Grok: Elon Musk’s X makes Grok available to X Premium or Premium+ subscribers in several countries. Grok is particularly useful when you want a summary of recent, widely discussed posts on X.
  • Brave Software: Serves up “Answer with AI” in its independent search service, and offers an AI assistant, Leo, with both free and paid versions available, built into the Brave browser.

What search services and apps do you use? Which of the above apps and services do you use often? Are there other AI-driven search systems that you recommend? Mention or message me on X (@awolber) to let me know how AI and LLMs are changing how you search.

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