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Yahoo! isn't exactly the first name in search engines these days, but with Axis, the Web giant has returned to its roots in a big way. If Steve Jobs put the Internet in our hands with the iPad, the App Store's first "search browser" puts websites at our fingertips with a sleek, intuitive interface that turns browsing on its head.
It's a bit light on the features, but nothing about Axis feels stale, from the customizable home page to the visual search results. You read that right: Instead of the usual list of links with a short descriptions that can lead you on a wild click chase, Axis presents surprisingly legible thumbnails of its live search results in a unique split-screen view that lets your search and browse simultaneously (or hide the search results altogether).
There are faster browsers in the App Store for sure, but Axis isn't about pure speed. Rather, it wants to get you to your destination in as few clicks as possible. Bookmarks, arranged much in the same way as search results, are accessible at a glance, and everything syncs across devices -- including your last iPad, iPhone, or desktop session (via a Safari extension) for seamless surfing.
Axis offers a tremendous searching experience, but we're not ready to completely cut the Safari cord just yet. Some minor rendering issues aside, the thumbnails -- which often nailed our intended search -- were a bit difficult to navigate at times, especially when we were forced to go deep into a result. (Of course, we could always go to Google, but that kind of defeats the point.) We also had occasional problems sliding open the search window, which is placed awfully close to the notification pull-down tab.
The bottom line. Yahoo! Axis represents a seismic shift in searching, but it's a bit too green to tilt the balance against traditional browsers.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 4.3 or later
Fantastic interface. Revolutionary concept. Cross-device syncing.
Some rendering issues. Difficult to delve into searches. Limited features.