Will Axis turn Yahoo?

Search engine and news platform Yahoo has launched a mobile Web browser called Axis in a bid to get its name back onto people’s lips. By Craig Wilson.

Once a serious rival to search engine Google, Yahoo has slipped in popularity in recent years. Now, it’s launched its own mobile browser, called Axis, in an apparent effort to win back users and remain relevant in the mobile Internet age.

Axis is designed for Apple’s iPad and iPhone, with Android and Windows Phone versions to follow.

Despite releasing standalone applications for phones and tablets, Yahoo has opted to go the plug-in route for desktop use, with extensions available for Chrome, Firefox and Safari.

The mobile app is impressive and is sure to be copied by Yahoo’s rivals in the near future. Entering a search term returns a list of suggested searches down the left-hand side of the screen and then a selection of icons displaying suggested sites to the right.

Users can also choose between Web or image search. Selecting a thumbnail opens it in the main browser window, but the search can be accessed by swiping down from the top of the screen, making it easier to flick between suggestions or refine a search without starting from scratch.

The functionality is very similar whether using a phone or a tablet and the desktop plug-in integrates by placing a small, black search bar at the bottom left of the browser window. This expands to offer thumbnails or access to bookmarks or other favourites.

Signing in to an existing Yahoo account, or via Facebook or Google, allows users to keep bookmarks and recently viewed pages synchronised and allows them to continue searches made on other devices.

Yahoo powers the weather and finance applications on Apple devices, which might go some way to explaining how it was able to launch a full-fledged browser in Apple’s App Store — complete with bookmarking capabilities and multiple tabs — something rivals like Google haven’t managed.

Yahoo has clearly put some serious thought into Axis. What’s less clear is whether its take on browsing will be enough to convince people to move people away from the default browsers on their mobile devices or whether it will allow Yahoo to regain users’ attention when it comes to its other offerings.  — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media

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