Yahoo! has launched a new search app and browser plug-in, Axis, geared to use on mobile devices and delivering results as a scrollable string of web page preview thumbnails or text boxes.
Axis was released in an iOS version on Apple’s online store late on Wednesday, and versions for other mobile operating systems will follow shortly. It can also be installed as a plug-in on rivals’ browsers including the big four, IE, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. At present, ads are not included in the results.
The app also displays lists of currently trending search topics, and includes predictive functions, bookmark sharing and social media functionality. Users can set up and customise a home page and move between different devices with the page remembering where they were. Special products Director Ethan Batraski said in a blog: ‘By supercharging the browser with a visually rich search experience and seamlessly connecting that experience across all of your devices, we are delivering an experience that will change the game.’ SVP Connections Shashi Seth says Yahoo! believes that ‘consumer-facing search is ripe for innovative disruption’ and that ‘Searching through links has outlived its utility.’
Like the recently-launched Google Knowledge Graph, Axis gets its results from a custom-built index, which starts its compilation from Yahoo!’s own data and looks to partner Bing if it can’t find enough.
The app is initially only available in the US, to be joined by the UK, France and others later in the year. Technology analysts have generally expressed favourable views of its design and functionality but don’t expect it to have any drastic effect on market shares. Yahoo!’s percentage of search has dropped from nearly a quarter two years ago to around 13.5% now, according to comScore, with Bing eating some of its slice and up to second place with 15.4% - Google has around two thirds.
Microsoft has recently previewed a change to displaying Bing's search results in three columns, while Google has just unveiled its new 'Knowledge Graph’ feature, which picks out information from a database of more than 500 million entries on people, places and other common search requests. Yahoo! has just lost its second CEO in nine months and will be hoping Axis can help restore its long-declining fortunes.
Demo at http://axis.yahoo.com .