Yahoo launches Axis browser

Yahoo has launched a new browser for Apple’s mobile devices called Axis. The browser, which is also available on desktops through plug-ins for the four major browsers, is designed to let you move between your devices and look at the same searches.

Search results show up as thumbnails on users’ home screens, to which you can pin favorites or pages to read later. The home screens also feature what searches you conducted on other devices through Axis, though it takes a couple of minutes to sync. Users will have to sign in to Yahoo accounts to use syncing.

On the desktop, Yahoo Axis’ search bar appears in the lower left-hand corner of Web pages to give users easy access to the service.

According to the company’s news release, Axis is supposed to help users find “answers, not links.”

“With Axis, we have redefined and re-architected the search and browse experience from the ground up,” said Shashi Seth, senior vice president of connections for the company, in a release.

The program, which went live at midnight Thursday, did ship with a couple of problems, however. For one, the plug-in went live without its terms of service, CNET reported, an embarrassing goof for the company. In a much more serious issue, the firm was forced to disable its extension for Google Chrome — now the world’s most popular browser — due to security concerns, the Next Web reported.

Blogger Nik Cubrilovic, who also raised the alarm about cookies in Facebook, posted soon after the product’s launch that he’d found a serious flaw in the Axis plug-in for Chrome.

According to Cubrilovic’s post, Yahoo’s extension for Chrome shipped with a security key that allowed anyone to fake a copy of the plug-in, which could be used to collect Web searches and even private information such as passwords. He immediately reported the flaw to Yahoo, and then wrote his blog post.

Yahoo did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the security issue, but the Chrome extension has been replaced, according to the Next Web report.

The technology giant has had its share of troubles in the past month, but has worked hard to overcome the setback of losing chief executive Scott Thompson after questions about a fake degree that he’d claimed on his biography.

With interim Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn in place, Yahoo is trying to move ahead. The firm sealed a deal for its assets in the Chinese company Alibaba on Monday.

Selling the Alibaba assets had been a top priority for Daniel Loeb, the activist investor who first raised questions about Thompson’s academic record. Loeb and two others nominated by his hedge fund, Third Point, were appointed to Yahoo’s board of directors after Thompson’s departure.

With Loeb and the new board members in place, analysts were a bit more optimistic about Yahoo’s prospects moving forward.

“We see the new board as increasing the focus on Yahoo’s core media business and limiting the potential for large dilutive acquisitions,” said BCG analyst Collin Gillis in a note to investors.

Related stories:

Yahoo seals Alibaba deal, kicks turnaround into high gear

Yahoo chief executive resigns, company adds new board members

Yahoo: Who is Ross Levinsohn?

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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