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January 04, 2013 at 11:13 AM EST
Blekko Launches Izik, A Tablet-Optimized Search App
Search startup Blekko is launching a new app today called Izik (pronounced "Isaac"), which it says has been designed specifically for the search experience on tablets. CEO Rich Skrenta said Izik is an attempt to recapture "that same tingly feeling" that people had when they first used Google more than a decade ago and realized that this was a new, improved search experience. That doesn't happen on tablets, he said, because search on tablets "doesn't look native."
izik screenshot

Search startup Blekko is launching a new app today called Izik (pronounced “Isaac”), which it says has been designed specifically for the search experience on tablets.

CEO Rich Skrenta said Izik is an attempt to recapture “that same tingly feeling” that people had when they first used Google more than a decade ago and realized that this was a new, improved search experience. That doesn’t happen on tablets, he said, because search on tablets “doesn’t look native.”

What’s the difference? Skrenta and vice president of marketing Michael Markson said that search on a desktop or laptop is more likely to be “task-oriented,” while search on a tablet is more exploratory or fun. If you’re using your tablet, you’re likely to be sitting on your couch and just looking something up because you’re curious, rather than trying to find a specific result. Plus, typing on a tablet is just harder — they’ve found that search queries on a tablet are usually only one or two words long, rather than the previously standard two-to-four.

Izik, then, takes Blekko’s search technology and redesigns the interface to make it fit that experience, making it more touch-friendly and image-driven. When you first open the app, you can choose from a few search queries that are popular currently, or you can type your own search into the box. Once you’ve made your search, the app offers you a dynamically generated list of different categories that fits with your specific search.

For example, if you search for the “iPad mini,” you get a few generic categories like “Looking for” (which offers a quick definition), “Top Results,” and “Images, but there are others that are clearly best-suited for the specific product, like sections for Apple news, tech news, and gadget-related websites. On the other hand, if you search for “Brad Pitt,” the techie categories are replaced by “Gossip.”

Under the hood, the company says these sections are generated by its categorization technology, which it refers to as its Dynamic Inference Graph. You can zoom in on each category, allowing you to bring up a longer list of results or to quickly swipe through them. This interface “really blows up” the idea that users are only going to look at few search results, because Izik makes it so easy to see many scroll down or swipe through many more results, Skrenta said.

The team originally started developing Izik as the tablet/mobile version of Blekko, but ultimately Skrenta and Markson said it turned into a separate use case, which is why it’s launching under a different name. They also said Izik is usable on the desktop and web, so that people can check it out from any device, but it’s really meant to be used on tablets. In the press release announcing the app, Blekko investor Ashton Kutcher said Izik “can be the epic tablet search experience.”

You can download Izik from the Apple App Store or from Google Play.


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