The visual search engine that launched last March is working on a natural extension: a visual search app for the iPhone. The app is ready, but the company is still waiting for it to be approved by Apple for the iTunes App Store. Co-Founder John Holland showed me a functioning version of the app earlier this week at TechCrunch50.
I like SearchMe better on the iPhone than I do on my laptop. The idea of flipping through images to find something is already ingrained into some of the most basic features of the iPhone—whether it is flipping through photos or the app menu itself. Maybe I’ve been too well-trained by Google, but when I am searching on my computer, I find it hard to beat the efficiency of skimming down a list of text links. When I do a search on my iPhone, though, I am always squinting and resizing the browser.
SearchMe isn’t a perfect solution. It presents search results as a series of thumbnails showing each Webpage, but you have to flip through them sequentially. SearchMe does let you narrow results by clicking on a topic icon. Still, it lends itself to certain types of searches better than others—when you are grazing for information, rather than looking for something specific.
The CoverFlow-like interface sometimes sometimes gets in the way. But sometimes it lets you find exactly what you want by letting you preview each age before clicking on it. I kind of wish it was an interface option on a regular search engine that I could turn on or off depending on what type of search I am doing. But on mobile devices, search is broken. So I’m more willing to try new things.