By default, if you are browsing the web on an iPad or iPhone, you are using Safari, the Mac browser that inhabits the Apple realm. Recently, an old name in Internet, Yahoo!, has released an app to give users a choice in their browser to use within iOS: Axis.
This app, available in the App Store, is touted by Yahoo! as “a completely new way to search and browse the web”, in that it integrates search results with the browsing experience. Searches provide instant results in a more visual experience; as you type in the search term, previews of the resulting websites appear to give a more comprehensive view of the results. On the iPad, with its greater screen real estate, the search portion occupies the top half of the display when revealed by clicking in the web address/search bar. Trending searches are available so you can see what the rest of the world seems to find important that moment; a fun way to see what seems important for others. With the smaller screen on the iPhone, the search portion takes over the screen, which works fine as the graphical view of the search results are the real focus here.
As a browser, Axis works well on the iOS platform. Standard features like tabbed browsing and favorites are present, with Axis providing synchronization between devices for your favorites and articles you’ve selected to read later. Of course, you’ll need to login to enable this functionality, with the option of using your existing Yahoo! account, or using a Facebook profile or Google account for access. Favorites and the Read Later pages are also displayed in an attractive graphical format; these are accessible at the top right of both versions of the app.
Like Safari, the ability to share pages is present, but one of the things I like best about the app is the built-in integration with Pinterest. This new “social network” is gaining momentum in leaps and bounds, and providing an easy to use method to share your “pins” is a much-needed feature on iOS. The lack of a dedicated Pinterest app for the iPad is reason alone to try out Axis. To add pages for Pinterest through Safari, you have to jump through a few hoops to get a bookmark created that allows for this functionality. Of course, the ability to share pages through email and via Twitter is also there, but I found the inclusion of Pinterest a good move.
Of course, Axis is also available for computers as well, albeit in a slightly different approach. With the number of available web browsers already competing for your usage, Yahoo! launched Axis as a free plugin for the major browsers like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, and Google Chrome. With the plugin, the Axis bar is placed at the bottom of the browser interface, giving you the same search bar that then opens up the graphical presentation of the results in the bottom portion of the browser window. When not in use, the bar shrinks down to the bottom left, but it does obscure a little of the page, which I didn’t like.
All in all, Axis is a neat new product, especially with the iOS browser providing some cool features that I can use. The computer browser plugin brings synchronization between platforms, but I’d love a little tweaking to the interface to make it better.