Visually speaking: Yahoo Axis, Facebook Camera

A couple of new offerings from Yahoo and Facebook highlight the fact that people like looking at pretty things.

• Yahoo’s Axis is a browser/browser add-on that displays search results visually, something AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher calls innovative. “Think Pinterest of search and you have the general idea,” Swisher, who usually writes about negative developments at Yahoo — and there have been many lately — says. Greg Sterling at Search Engine Land agrees with Yahoo’s stated aim: that Axis eliminates the “10 blue links” middle man of search and appears to take users directly from query to the results. Is it enough to get people using Yahoo to search again? “Because Axis is quite distinct from the traditional PC and mobile search experience some will like it but some may find it too foreign,” Sterling writes. But he said it’s worth a try.

Yahoo’s move comes on the heels of changes initiated by other search players you may have heard of: Microsoft’s Bing and Google. As the Associated Press notes, Microsoft was the first to announce earlier this month that it is revamping and making more social the presentation of Bing’s search results. And Google last week announced the Knowledge Graph, which also aims to go beyond serving up traditional search links by using its vast trove of past search results.

• Meanwhile, Facebook, which a couple of months ago announced a $1 billion purchase of mobile photo-sharing app Instagram, has introduced a competing app called Facebook Camera. The app is now available for Apple’s iOS. With filters, comments and all, “it’s essentially Instagram redux,” writes Mike Isaac for AllThingsD, who also says the Instagram folks had nothing to do with Facebook Camera. Which brings us to the big question, of course: What will become of Instagram? Its acquisition by Facebook isn’t even final yet. But Facebook’s broad reach — and its users’ propensity for taking and uploading photos — seems to give Camera quite an advantage. When he announced the Instagram buy, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed that the popular app would be run separately. Now its future appears a tad fuzzy.


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