updated 07:41 am EDT, Thu May 24, 2012
iOS app and browser extension offers image-based search
Update: Axis was temporarily pulled by Yahoo due to a security vulnerability, but has already been updated.
Yahoo has released Axis, which it is calling a 'visual search' application. It has been released as a full mobile browser for iOS and as a cross-platform desktop browser extension that uses page snapshots in live search results instead of text. The iOS app, while having the same tabbed browsing and bookmarking found in Safari, has a user interface focussing on image-heavy search, with cross-device synching possible between iPhone, iPad and the desktop browser extension.
The Yahoo Axis browser shows trends and visual previews of search results, and also allows for sharing of favorites and bookmarks through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, email, and Pinterest. The desktop browser extension appears as a small black box in a bottom corner of your choice of mainstream browser, which brings up the full interface to work on when text is entered into the search box.
The browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Internet Explorer have been released at the same time as the iOS version, with Axis apps for Android and Windows Phone on the way. The Axis browser on mobile is one of the more interesting and original browser concepts to surface in recent times, and may help to rekindle interest in using Yahoo as a user's search engine, particularly in the way it has been packaged within a browser. Strangely though, Axis has only been released as a plug-in for competing desktop browsers, although we hope Yahoo plans on releasing a desktop equivalent.
Despite the crowded browser market, Axis is a breath of fresh air for Yahoo and a rare bright spot in its recent turbulent history. The mass departure of staff in April and the sacking of CEO Scott Thompson over a CV controversy, among other serious back office problems, have sapped the morale of its staff. Axis may help to get them smiling again.