A9 Good to Go

Amazon.com’s entry into the search engine wars is finally out of beta and launched today. Why do we need another search engine? The folks at Amazon probably anticipated this question, so they decided to focus on “what else can we do with our service to make people come?” Their response: “We provide a unique set of powerful features to find information, organize it, and remember it–all in one place.” Currently, A9 returns search results from Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” and Alexa, images and web from Google, movies from the Internet Movie Database, and reference material from GuruNet. All right, multiple searching, at last! It also tracks your search history, results seen, and sites visited. Hmm. Some of the features that accomplish this are called history, diary, and bookmarks. Be careful what you search for, although A9 promises you can remove or delete items you don’t want. And don’t be surprised if you find you have a history on your first visit–they’ve been saving your Amazon.com searches, perhaps without your knowledge.

Another feature provides site info (from Alexa, questionable) such as traffic rank, average speed of the site, how long it has been active, and related sites (the latter still in beta). In a page at Amazon.com, the same info includes a summary, reviews, and detailed traffic charts, A9 says. Internet Explorer Favorites can be imported, edited, and the sites viewed in A9′s Bookmarks facility. This sounds handy.

Then there are the customizations you can make to your display. Results show up in columns which you can open, close, and resize; font sizes and colors are minimally changeable; and you can set results to return in a single language (the default setting is all languages). A filter can restrict results to prevent most porn from showing up. They call it “mature content”. These advanced search settings apply only to the Web and Image searches, and the descriptive page contains a major grammar error.

If you don’t want all the features, or have something to hide, A9 offers a “generic” version which does it’s best to dump you into the data collecting mode (most of the links there lead back to the new version).

Find the A9 grammar error and send it in comments to Georganna at Writer’s Edge.

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