It alters browsers made by other companies to display search results in a more convenient and visual format.
Yahoo Inc. released Axis in Apple's app store. That version will work only on Apple's iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The software also can be installed as a plug-in on most major browsers used on desktop computers and laptops. Apps for other mobile devices are in the works.
A device running Axis can display search results in a panorama of visual thumbnails that can be scrolled through above a Web page. It's a departure from search engines' traditional presentation of a list of staid Web links that require more navigation and guesswork.
All the major search engines are adopting new formats intended to make it easier for users to find information without clicking through to page after page.
The biggest challenge facing Axis may be overcoming the perception that Yahoo stopped innovating in search when it joined forces with Microsoft and started relying on Bing.
Yahoo is counting on Axis to reverse its declining share of the lucrative search market and bring it more traffic from among the growing number of smartphone and tablet users.
Its greatest appeal figures to be on mobile devices because users with the app installed can see their results at the top of the screen just by flicking on whatever page is displayed. The results appear in a ribbon of Web page snapshots, making it easier for users to find the right information.