Yahoo! Introduces “Redefining” Axis Browser

Yahoo! hasn’t had a ton of good press in recent times, but yesterday, they introduced something pretty interesting: Yahoo! Axis. Axis is a browser “platform” that builds upon your existing app with new search tools on desktop, and a brand new app on iOS (both iPhone and iPad). Yahoo! claims Axis redefines “what it means to search and browse the web”, while its actually providing some similar tools to what Google’s offered in the search engine for some time. With Axis, you can access trending searches (through Yahoo!, of course), as well as start your own in an Google-style instant search.

In the iOS app, Yahoo! brings a completely independent browser app that features similar tools to Axis on the desktop, as well as all the standard functions of any browser app. While that exists, we’ll, of course, be focusing on the desktop browser extension today.

Getting Started

Yahoo! Axis comes packaged as a browser extension for the desktop client. Once you’ve downloaded and installed the extension, you’ll notice a small bar is added to the bottom-left of your browser window, featuring a search field and two icons, one for accessing your Axis homepage quickly and another for bookmarking the current page.

If you want to simply get searching, it’s as easy as just typing into the search field, much like the way you’re used to at the top of your browser window. However, it might turn out to be slightly different than what you’re used to.

The Axis startpage.

Search

You’ve probably already heard of Google’s Instant Search feature, which starts searching as soon as you start typing into the search field on Google.com. Well, Axis is pretty similar as, when you start typing your term into the field, search results will start appearing in the horizontal results. In some cases, these will be traditional text-based returns while, in others, they will show a screenshot of the page you’ll access by clicking through.

One thing I’ve found annoying is that results are presented in a horizontal container. While it may be simply that I’m not used to it, I just prefer the more traditional, more-verticle search paradigm.

When the larger Axis pane is open, by clicking on the “Search X” button at the very bottom-left corner, you’ll be able to switch between searching the web and just images. The images search better suits the horizontal style, and does an elegant job at allowing you peruse pages of images relevant to your search term.

Searching for images in Yahoo! Axis.

Bookmarking

With Yahoo! Axis, you can also bookmark webpages in much the same way as the native browser function will. You simply hit the star button and then select a folder to save your bookmark into. This will then be synced with your Yahoo! account, if you’re signed in. You should then be able to simply pickup from where you left off from Axis on a different platform, i.e. iPhone or iPad.

And, unfortunately, that’s pretty much it for Axis.

Pointless?

Pretty much. While the app kind of does what it’s supposed to well, I just can’t see the point to it at all. It just seems like a lame, superfluous attempt to push out a product, and offers very little extra to the browsing experience. Ultimately, searching is just, well, searching. Sure, it means you don’t have to hit the enter key before you see results, but I don’t see that as much of a problem to be rewarded with a significant better, traditional search view.

Will you ever use me?

Additionally, there’s just no point to bookmarking webpages through a secondary system when it already exists in the browser itself. The benefit of it syncing is hard to justify it either, since most browsers work with their mobile counterparts too (i.e. Safari and Chrome). Without any extra syncing, online dashboard, or social tools, there’s little reason to use it for bookmarks even if you would consider using a separate bookmarking service.

When it comes to going to search, it may just be the lack of extensive use over a long period of time, but I still find myself going up to Safari’s omnibar and searching from there. I don’t find it difficult to imagine many people installing Axis and then completely forgetting about it, as it sits in the corner, lonely.

Final Thoughts

As I covered in the previous section, I really don’t see a point to Axis. It works, but does little to “redefine” the experience of searching over what’s been available in browsers for what seems like forever.

There’s also sparse stability issues. A comments thread on The Verge highlights many issues with browser stability after installing, and concerns over security in Chrome have been discovered. I, myself, have experienced issues with several websites, such as Facebook, since installing the plugin.

Yahoo! really did have an opportunity to launch into the browser market here. However, instead of actually launching a browser, they’ve only developed an extension that does little more than replicate the standard functionality already in the given browser. Check it out if you want, but I don’t see much point to.


Summary

A browser extension from Yahoo! that brings more native Yahoo! search to your browser.

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