The final word on mobile search is far from being written. In fact, we are still in that antediluvian stage of a new medium when the best we can imagine for now is mimicry of the previous platform. With notable improvements in input methods, result categorization and localization, the dominant flavor of search on smartphones is still a port from the Web.
Which is not to say that these engines and others over the years have not played with more mobile-native variations. Ask.com and AOL have experimented with some very strong ideas over the years. But aside from natural language of voice input and some redesign around the edges of results, it all still feels like search. Surely scrolling through search results is not the way God intended us to search through things on handsets.
Kickvox comes at the problem again with a slightly different and more visually vibrant take. The new app for iOS and Android follows the lead of many before it in trying to provide “answers” rather than search results. And so they integrate into the engine resources from Yelp, Amazon, eBay, Wikipedia, etc. so that you can run searches against these specific engines and often just stay within the search app. Results are visually categorized by icons that designate the category of the result, such as movies, shopping, Q&A, etc.
The app is attractive enough, driven by many visual cues and navigation that allows you to move across to the next result rather than backtracking to a results page. In many cases you will get well-formatted answers to your query in the marquee box atop results. The predictive search and drop-down history are all very good shortcuts.
The results themselves are actually a bit messy and imprecise in my short use. Siri gave me better and more precise answers to movie queries, for instance. And I never quite got the local results to work, even though Yelp is supposed to be integrated.
But that is less to the point than what the app experiments with in terms of a more visually engaging search that uses the mobile medium’s icon nomenclature over text, and tries to keep the experience within the given frame. The company’s claim that it “will make the blue inks that defined the search industry for more than a decade a thing of the past” is inflated at best. But it does open up some interesting paths to take.