Yahoo’s Axis Is An Alright iOS Browser

Yahoo! AxisYahoo topped the list on Techmeme again — this time with a product launch instead of a laundry list of company troubles. The company’s new offering, Axis, is a hybrid search tool and Web browser that’s available as a plugin for major desktop browsers. For iOS devices, it comes as an app.

iOS already has a decent collection of browsers, but two are glaringly missing: Firefox and Chrome. Axis, with its positive review (AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher loved it so much that she might use Yahoo search again), gives me hope that there’s finally something comparable to Chrome coming to iOS.

But…

After taking Axis for a spin on my iPad, I would say it’s a decent product, but not a keeper. It offers a pretty standard list of features on iOS, such as tabs, bookmarks, a Chrome-like new tab page, and several social sharing options (email, Pinterest and Twitter).

Like Chrome for Android, Axis can sync opened Web pages between devices. But there’s a caveat: Only the most recently opened tab can be synced. Of course, you can still send Web pages between devices by bookmarking them, but that’s not quite as effortless.

The star of the product, Axis search, is the only feature that makes the browser different. Search results are displayed as thumbnails listed horizontally, instead of the decades-old list of blue links.

Axis - search without thumbnails

However, in my test at least half of all searches were returned in the conventional form — a page title, URL, a short description and no thumbnails. The only difference is the results are displayed horizontally as boxes. I expect this to change as Axis becomes more popular.

Also, there’s no way to open links in new tabs. Tough luck if you want to open several search results in news tabs, which is something I do all the time.

As of now, I don’t see how Axis is better than the iPad’s native Safari, or the truly innovative Dolphin browser. I realize Axis isn’t meant to be a standalone on the iPad since it’s meant to be paired with a desktop browser plugin. But no, I can’t let that one stay either.

To be fair, Axis was primarily built as a search product, not a Web browser. It’s pretty much in its infancy. I believe Yahoo will address some of the issues I’ve mentioned going forward, but until then I guess I’ll use the primitive way to search. Hello again, Google.

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