Yahoo’s Axis app searches for an easier way to get results
Screenshot of Yahoo’s Axis for the iPad. (Yahoo / May 24, 2012)
By Michelle Maltais
Yahoo’s Axis aims to make search easier, director of product Ethan Batraski told The Times. Search is an inefficient process that has remain unchanged, involving the same three-step process it always has for the last 15 years: Launch a query, get results and then explore results, he said.
Axis removes the middle step of a returning search results page of links, instead returning a snapshot of the actual Web page and “turns search into a companion, not a destination,” Batraski said. In this way, it’s a bit reminiscent of Google’s Chrome.
When you do type your desired terms into the search/URL field, it auto-populates to help speed the process a bit. And actually, you never have to hit enter or go because it’s already there with the page’s thumbnail, not just a link.
Although Yahoo is aiming this app squarely at Safari on your phone and tablet, it comes amid efforts among the top search engines to draw and keep drive-by Web surfers on their sites. Google just got smarter, launching Knowledge Graph to delve deeper. Microsoft just made Bing friendlier, adding a sidecar for your Facebook friends to offer their expertise.
“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,” Shashi Seth, senior vice president at Yahoo Inc. Connections, said in the news release. “With Axis, we have redefined and re-architected the search and browse experience from the ground up.”
Like Google’s refreshed app, it is more mobile-user friendly than previous offerings. To that end, Axis lets you pick up right where you left off on a search, which can be either useful or condemning, depending on what you were last looking for.
As it turns out, the target demographic is 18- to 35-year-old “tech-forward” men, Batraski told The Times. And for them, more links just mean more noise. Axis aims to “get you to your answers as quickly as possible,” he said.
I tried it out looking for common terms and quotes about flying on my desktop using the plug-in.
When I left my desk, I was able to continue that search while on the move on my iPhone and iPad without having to type anything in.
And like most things mobile these days, it does let you share. But interestingly enough, it doesn’t include Facebook in the drop-down, despite your being able to log in with your Facebook credentials. You can share via email, Pinterest and Twitter.
Because Axis wants to be your browser of choice on the go, you can save your bookmarks and pages to read later.
To link your accounts across products, you log in with either Yahoo!, Google or Facebook credentials.
The interface is certainly more visual than your staid search page, which is the trend of the day. One minor gripe is that it’s not immediately clear whether you can close the results pages from other devices. You can close the different tabs opened on the device at hand once you have more than one tab open.
The desktop plug-in works on Firefox 7 and above, Safari version 5 and up, Internet Explorer 9 and all versions of Chrome.