Yahoo is in the news yet again, but this time it has nothing to do with layoffs or botched CEO resumes. The struggling search and services giant took the wraps off the virtually unheard-of Axis web browser yesterday, a new iOS and PC/Mac browser that has Google Chrome in the crosshairs. Modern web browsers are all about sharing bookmarks and tabs across multiple devices, and that's exactly what Axis was designed to do. Axis is available for the iPhone and iPad, as well as PC or Mac, and is 100 percent free. For PC and Mac users, you will need to pair Axis with another browser like Firefox or Safari (skip to slide 16 for more info).
I gave Axis a test drive on two devices: my iPad 3, running iOS 5.1.1, and my desktop PC, via Firefox 12.0.
After downloading Axis from the App Store, the app goes into a tutorial mode of sorts. Basic functionality, like the apps basic gestures, are outlined. If you're a Yahoo regular, here's your first chance to sign in using your login information (you can sign in and out at your leisure without restarting the app). I've always been a Google user (Gmail, Google Docs, etc.), but I did end up creating a Yahoo account for testing purposes.
Search in Axis is like a visual version of Google Instant. As soon as you type a word or phrase, snapshots of websites start popping up next to the address bar. You'll also see suggestions filling in under the bar to save your fingers some effort.
Like any good browser, tabs in Axis allow you to flip between different websites on the fly. Once you click the new tab icon at the bottom, you can choose from your bookmarks (more on that later), or go from the address bar.
Here's the view if you're switching between tabs without creating a new one. The intrusion is minimal, with the tab menu sitting pretty low on the screen.
Browsing in Axis is a pleasant experience overall; you can pinch-to-zoom, fly around the page with the swipe of a finger, and swipe down on the page to expose a bigger search menu. Safari does allow you to zoom in further, and its pinch-to-zoom is more fluid. Axis stutters a bit when zooming, which seems to be caused by the search bar expansion automatically expanding when pinching on the screen.
You can also search exclusively for images. Once you choose the option, typing in the search is exactly like search the web, only the page snapshots have been replaced with image thumbnails.
Clicking on an image will enlarge, and you can swipe left and right to navigate the other image search results (similar to Google via Safari).