Giving A9 another glance

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I played around with the new “search entery” A9 a bit today. It’s kind of interesting. Actually, it’s not a new search engine but rather a browser-based front end to Google’s services. It’s worth checking out.

One thing that caught my attention are the image results in an optional vertical pane for your search results. I kind of like it. Too bad the images aren’t sorted by date. I think I’d like that. It would be visual way to look at new news on Tablet PCs for instance. Right now if I search for Tablet PCs, the image list comes up with two-year old search items. Yuk. The business part of me is guessing that companies would like time ranking for photos. Think about it: If you could get your product’s picture in a press article, it would show up at the top of the photo list when someone searches for it. I imagine it would be fairly successful at catching people’s attention–better than some of the words in other columns. Well, at least it would catch mine. Maybe I’d get distracted after awhile, but I bet not.

Among the categories you can search: Web, Books (This is an Amazon-owned company if you wondered!), Images, Movies, Reference, and a couple site-managed user-history lists. Hmm, where’s Google’s terrific News category?

Another big missing category is a front end to searching blogs. This probably has to do with the fact that Google doesn’t provide blog searching results, but to me this shows a horrible hole in A9’s potential value. I’m still going to have to go to Feedster and Technorati (or at least their RSS feeds) several times a day and A9 doesn’t help there. Now that I think about it, if they started supporting blogs they’d have to start supporting RSS and that would probably take them down a path different from what they are currently envisioning.

In fact, is there a .Net app that does what A9 does already–in terms of providing a multi-pane view of Google’s search results? Integrated with RSS feeds and/or searching of blogs this would be very useful it seems. But I think A9 is right in that it’s handy to have a feature that is able to remotely store my search history so that when I go between machines I can get to them. A combination client and server-side-service makes sense to me. You get the best of both worlds: local richness and data location transparency. Hmm. I guess a web-based front end is still needed, but done right I bet I’d use a rich client app more. I guess there’s more to think through here.