Yahoo Gets A Browser Called Axis
We take our search engine experience so much for granted that it can be hard to see with clear eyes. Yahoo Axis, Yahoo is making search into a far more visual, rather than text-based, experience. Thus, Axis comes as either a tablet app, smartphone app, or a browser plug-in, but the iPad experience lays bare exactly what’s going on. Tap it, and you arrive at a search bar in the upper left corner. Type in your results, and suggested topics fill in below.
What is so different about it?
Where things get different is in the results. Rather than a list of blue links, you get tiles and webpage titles on your right. You can swipe through these, and if you tap on any one result, that page previews in the browser space below. Granted, Yahoo’s claim at eliminating a middle-step is a bit overblown, but note that there’s a subtle shift at work here. Rather than asking that you read capsule bits of text to try and parse whether a search result is relevant to you, they’re asking to look at the website. They’re using the thumbnail image of a website as a semantic shortcut that signals all sorts of information such as how well done the website is, how media rich it is, and how well its own tastes match up to yours. Put another way, the design of a website is another map of its relevance to you–just as the inbound hyperlinks give you an idea of who’s most reputable. Not sure whether the interface that Yahoo! has built will be refined enough to gain a mass following, Yahoo! position on Axis does seem reasonable. While it might seem like a niche product right now, consider two things:
- Screens are growing larger, they contain a vast amount of information.
- We do our web browsing on mobile. And tapping on links just isn’t nearly as immediate and pleasant as tapping on images.
What is in the future for Yahoo Axis
Yahoo claims that Axis does indeed speed up the search process for the users it has observed. But perhaps the more interesting thing is that Axis might herald a new take on ads. Yahoo wants to have ads that if you search for anything Chevy related for example, there might be a Camaro pictured in your listings. Click on it, and you might be able to rotate it in 3-D in the preview window below. That solution gets to a subtle problem with ads as they appear on search pages now–with tablets, which privilege unbroken panoramic images, the tiny real estate in the top right corner just doesn’t feel as present or as well-integrated as it might on a desktop with a mouse. For now though, Yahoo is staying cautious, opting not to monetize while they work out how people are actually using Axis. But they’re working with advertisers on test pilots. Yahoo has a few videos that demonstrate the new browser. Click Here Yahoo Axis is available as a browser plug in or for IOS devices.