Yahoo Releases Axis Browser For iPhone And iPad

Yahoo has just sprung a major surprise. They have released a new browser called Yahoo Axis for the iPhone and iPad.

With the Axis browser, Yahoo aims to change the way we search and browse the web on our iPhone and iPad.

Rafe Needleman of CNET reports:

The design goal, according to Ethan Batraski, head of product for the Search Innovation Group at Yahoo, is to eliminate the middle step in the usual Web search process: Enter a query, see the results, go to a page. With Axis, you’re supposed to be able to go directly from query to page, skipping the step of surfing a sea of links.

Yahoo tries to achieve this by giving you a visual snapshot of the webpages in search results so that you can preview the site before visiting it. While this may work on desktop computers and to some extent on the iPad, we don’t really think that the middle step is eliminated for smaller devices like the iPhone and iPod touch.

In addition to the apps for iPhone and iPad, Yahoo has also released plugins or extensions for  Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer 9 to offer a similar user experience on your favorite browser. We think that’s a clever strategy. It makes a lot more sense than building your own browser.

To be able to pick up wherever you left off as you move across your desktop, iPhone, and iPad, you have to  login using either their Yahoo, Facebook, or Google+ account. This allows you to access your recently visited sites, saved articles, and bookmarks across all your devices.

Unfortunately, as we’ve highlighted before, there are two disadvantages of third party browsers like Yahoo Axis. Apple doesn’t let a third party browser become the default choice, meaning that all links in Mail, Messages and other such apps would still open in Safari (unless you’ve jailbroken your iPhone or iPad).

The other issue is that UIWebView, which Yahoo has probably used (like other native apps that load URLs), always lags mobile Safari by at least one or two minor iOS updates when it comes to performance improvements. So Chrome’s Axis’s performance on the iPhone and iPad will not be better than mobile Safari.

Will Yahoo Axis be a success? We won’t bet on it, but Yahoo seems to be banking on attracting users by providing a different way to search and browse the web and not to forget, the ability to market it to 700 million people who use Yahoo.

Click on the image above to see the slideshow of all the screenshots

You can download Yahoo Axis from the App Store using this link. Let us know what you think about Yahoo’s browser app in the comments. Please note that the app doesn’t seem to be available in all the App Stores.