Yahoo! releases a new search engine extension and iOS app, with surprisingly positive results.
Yahoo! has re-entered the search engine market with its new offering, called Axis. Available as an iOS app and a desktop browser extension, the product is the latest attempt by the struggling web company to reinstate itself as the leading, influential brand it once was.
Axis has been well received by users, with positive reviews from the likes of Wired, CNET and Mashable. The general consensus is that the iOS app is more effective than the desktop browser extension, however critics have commented on Axis’ unique results display. With their new product, Yahoo! is attempting to make web searches – still a largely text-based activity – more visual. Typing a search term into the Axis browser produces a carousel of web page screenshots, rather than text results.
Shashi Seth, senior vice president of connections at Yahoo! Inc. commented on Axis’ distinctive results format, explaining “Our search strategy is predicated on two core beliefs — one, that people want answers, not links and two, that consumer-facing search is ripe for innovative disruption. With Axis, we have re-defined and re-architected the search and browse experience from the ground up.”
Axis shares similarities with some of the leading search engines, yet at the same time is very different. Like Google, Axis provides the answers to some queries (such as weather) in place of a list of search results. It also utilizes search prediction, displaying a list of results you might find helpful before you’ve finished typing.
This, however, is where the similarities end. Visually, Axis is very different from its browser competitors. While Google tends to separate out images, news and other content from a main web search, providing only edited highlights on the main text page, Axis enables you to view images, text and other types of results, all from the same page.
The desktop add-on is unintrusive, allowing you to surf while still being visible as a black search bar at the bottom left-hand side of the screen.
Simply roll your browser over the box and the bar extends, providing you with information on trending searches, and web results for Yahoo! News.
Where the Axis search engine really excels, however, is on iPhone and iPad. Acting as a skin for Safari, Axis adds a host of new features to Apple’s built-in browser. The main bonus is the ability to save browser settings, bookmarks and searches, and sync these with Axis on your iPhone and iPad. You can even create a search on your iPhone, then switch to the desktop extension to continue where you left of with the same search.
Times haven’t been good for Yahoo! recently. The organization, which recently saw the departure of its chief executive, has suffered a dramatic drop in the number of users, who have been lured away by the likes of Mozilla, Google, and other companies that provide more advanced and user-friendly versions of Yahoo!’s products.
The ailing company are certainly launching their new search engine into a competitive market. Recent figures showed that Google’s Chrome browser has overtaken Internet Explorer as the most popular browser and looks set to hold onto the number one position.
So will Axis prove to be a worthy competitor of existing web giants? Probably not, according to most reviewers, however it still has its charms. CNET editor Rafe Needleman had the following conclusion: “The Axis browser may not conquer the world, but it is a very strong mobile product with an important new design concept for search. It’s also a gutsy business move from Yahoo. It’s rather refreshing.”