Yahoo!’s newly launched Axis web exploration and search tool isn’t what you’d expect from a company that’s been in corporate turmoil over the past few months.
In fact, it’s pretty damn impressive. Axis is both a mobile browser and a desktop plugin that gives people visual search results as they type.
In the desktop version, Axis comes in the form of a little black pill that nestles in the bottom left corner of your browser. Hover over it and extends across your screen. If you then click on the extended bar, you’ll get all the visual representations related to your search query.
We think that this is great if, for instance, you want to search for something on a page you’re reading without leaving the page itself.
According to Yahoo!:
Axis also includes a personalised home page that contains your most recently visited sites, bookmarks and articles you plan to read later. This personalized home page stays with you across your desktop, iPad and iPhone, keeping what’s important to you in one easy, centralised spot. No matter what device you started on, you can easily pick up where you left off when you switch devices.
As TechCrunch notes Axis gives Yahoo!’s (well Microsoft’s really) search engine its own flexible space outside the traditional browser paradigm.
Quite how Axis will flag Yahoo!’s ailing fortunes (you can only make so much money from selling apps) is uncertain. Certainly, it could put ads in the search result windows, but that seems to defy the point of what the company is trying to do with Axis.
There have also been some security concerns. According to The Next Web, Yahoo! shut down the Axis Chrome extension after a developer managed to forge it. Shortly after the site ran the story however, Memeburn was able to download it on Chrome.
Privacy advocates might also be a little wary of Axis. The terms and conditions, which Yahoo! forgot to publish at first, give the plugin access to your search and browsing history, your tabs and browsing activity, and your list of apps, extensions and themes.
All you need to use Axis is a Yahoo! profile. Can’t remember if you have one? If you’ve been on the web a while, you’re bound to have one lying around somewhere.
At the moment, the Axis mobile app is only available for iOS devices, while the plugin is available on all major HTML5 enabled desktop browsers. The embattled internet giant has given no word on whether we can expect an Android version soon, but that probably depends on Google.