Yahoo! Gets Into the Browser Business With Yahoo! Axis

3 minute read

In recent years, Yahoo has been struggling to keep up with other companies, like Google, that are immensely popular and widely used. It has made a couple of brave attempts at developing new products, but most of them have failed or been foolishly shut down. Yet again, Yahoo has released a product that they hope will bring them back into the search engine game.

It has been generally accepted that  there are three main internet browsers: Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Chrome. Starting now, a new browser is going to be available that will rival those that came before it. Earlier today Yahoo announced and released its new service. Dubbed “Axis“,  it is a web browser that offers a unique browsing experience. Its core feature is a search bar and search results that act as part of the currently viewed page. It essentially allows you to skip the search results page of a normal search engine and jump between websites relevant to your search term. That’s a bit of an overstatement though. A horizontal list of large graphical thumbnails can be viewed at the bottom of each page while searching, and it will probably be the most common way users will view and select search results.

While viewing any page, even one not related to your search, you can click arrows on the right and left sides of each page that will navigate through the pages that were found as search results of the most recently submitted term. While viewing search results, or any web page for that matter, a star next to the search bar can be clicked. This will allow you to add the web page to a folder (e.g. “Favorites” or “Read Later”). A personalized homepage feature is also offered, but it isn’t the default homepage, and it’s more of a way to view your saved pages.

Axis is available as an iOS app

It’s not really fair to call Axis a full out browser.  It is actually available as a plug-in or extension for the browsers Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer. It is also available as an iPhone or iPad app (in which case it is a complete web browser). I played around with the iPhone app for a bit, and I have to say that I am quite impressed! Although it has been made possible by other services and plugins before, I am delighted to find that Axis supports bookmarking syncing across devices (assuming you have a Yahoo account). It is not clear yet whether or not Yahoo plans to release their browser for Android.

The most annoying aspect of Axis is that the search bar isn’t integrated into the browser very well. It overlays the bottom left corner of the screen, covering up text and making it impossible to click on anything that is on the bottom left corner of a web page. The overall experience would be greatly improved if the search bar and other features were directly integrated into the default search/menu bar.

As of now, there are no ads in search results or user interface elements. It would seem that Yahoo is wisely trying to provide the best experience possible until Axis has gained a loyal following. It will need this edge in order to have a chance in the market where so many others have failed.

Yahoo still has a user base of 700 million people, and 80 million of them receive Internet Explorer software packages from Yahoo that include their old toolbar (yuck). It definitely has enough users to make this a popular product. Plus, Axis is actually a pretty cool service. Install Axis and tell us what you think about it!

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