Yahoo has launched a new web search tool called Axis. It lets you view search results instantly as you type, with thumbnail previews of web pages appearing next to the search box. Axis can also synchronize your browser bookmarks and search history between devices, even allowing you to pick up browsing on a mobile device exactly where you left off on your desktop PC — or vice versa.

Axis is available as a mobile browser for the iPhone and iPad. Yahoo is working on an Android version. The mobile browser lets you start searching the web without leaving the page you’re on or opening a new windows — and shows results in real-time.

yahoo axis

If you’re using a desktop or notebook computer, Axis is available as a browser add-on. It’s available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Once installed, a toolbar shows up in the bottom left corner of your screen. You can tap the home button to visit the Axis home screen with quick links to your favorites, settings, and pages you’ve marked to read later. The star icon lets you add bookmarks or mark pages to read.

But the key feature is the search box. As soon as you start typing the toolbar expands to fill the bottom of your browser window and starts showing thumbnail icons for web pages as you type. You might even find the pages you’re looking for before you finish typing your query.

The whole thing feels very fast and features slick animations… but when I took Yahoo Axis for a spin in Google Chrome it felt a bit half-baked. Every time I open a new tab or load a new website, Yahoo Axis kind of goes crazy and keeps popping open new tabs showing the tutorial.

While the plugin is provided by Yahoo, Microsoft Bing actually powers Yahoo’s search engine. So the results are as good or as bad as Bing’s. For the most part I was able to find what I was looking for, but if you’re used to Google you may not get the results you usually see.

Axis isn’t exactly Yahoo’s “Chrome Killer” as some early reports had suggested it might be. But it’s certainly Yahoo’s latest attempt to get you to use its search tools — even if they’re powered by Bing and your current web browser.

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