Among the Y Combinator startups we rounded up earlier today is one that finally brings some innovation to the standard Google search bar most of us have set as our homepages.
Wundrbar will remind some readers of YubNub, the so-called “social command line for the web” that we covered a long time ago. Both are smarter than the average bar and will let you prefix your search terms with commands that indicate which type of results you want to see. For example, with both services you can enter “wikipedia john rawls” to get the Wikipedia article for that philosopher.
YubNub has a really long list of commands that appeal mostly to programmers. Want to display the headers for a particular URL? Type something like “headers beta.techcrunch.com”. In contrast, Wundrbar has a much more limited set of commands but they appeal to more general audiences.
Say you want to find and book a flight for next week. Instead of going to Kayak and filling out all of their fields, just type “fly sfo to new york next tuesday to march 30 first class”. Wundrbar will show you below the search bar what it thinks you’re looking for, and when you hit submit you will be taken to a results page from your favorite flight search site (Kayak, Orbitz, Travelocity – your choice).
Similar functionality is possible for car rentals, hotels, trains, movie rentals, movie showtimes, and online retail sites. The full list of commands can be found here. And if you don’t use any commands, you’ll simply be directed to a standard Google results page.
On top of making search easier, Wundrbar can also be used to update and retrieve information from personal accounts. Right now only Twitter and Google Calendar are supported. For Twitter, you can use the command “twitter” to update your twitter status. And you can use different commands for Google Calendar to either retrieve calendar items on Wundrbar (“calendar next tuesday”) or to set calendar items (“create event next thursday dentist appointment”). Neither work perfectly yet; I had problems submitting Twitter messages with URLs and with adding calendar events with specific times. But if Wundrbar manages to iron these kinks out and support substantially more services, it will make for a compelling homepage.