The question is, as always, does the world really need another search gadget?
At first, I thought the answer was no. I’m perfectly happy with my Firefox searchbar. Then I got introduced to KwiClick, which has been described as “Firefox’s dedicated searchbar on steroids.” And it really is just that.
KwiClick works by attempting to make your search experience quicker, and allowing you to watch the videos you’re searching for, read the pages you’re looking for, and access the content you need on-the-fly, from the same place you searched. In other words, it’s a multi-page experience.
The idea is great, but does the application actually deliver on its promises? Well, here’s my experience…
The Anatomy of KwiClick
KwiClick is non-intrusive. Two tiny buttons, one next to the address bar, and another on the status bar, provide you with the access to the KwiClick interface. The interface is basically a hovering box nested on the lower corner of the browser.
The box itself is designed to look very much like Firefox, so it feels right at home. The searchbar looks like the Firefox default, and the buttons are styled in the way any Firefox user has come to love. The “favorite search places” are placed in the lower part, and the list can be customized to include other services.
The search results look similar to the way they would be organized in Google. I really like how you can search Friendfeed, which basically means search the Real-Time Web. The topbar options include: search history, expand window, search from saved queries, and pin window to browser. The bottom bar includes: Previous/Next buttons, favorite search services, and view more search services.
Here’s how the search history preview looks like:
For services like Google, you can also use an advanced-search-like option where you can dig a little deeper by limiting results to blog search, book search or image search.
The advanced-search results are displayed in quite a pleasing way, making it both appealing and easy to handle. For example, here’s how the map search results are displayed in the KwiClick window:
Customization and Scalability on KwiClick
The KwiClick options menu allows you to control your KwiClick plug-in. Naturally, the most important aspect of such a service is being able to add as many as possible. As you can see from the window below, you can also control the way each service works, and control the additions you want to add to your favorites bar.
These are the available search services that KwiClick supports:
Customization is a very important aspect. The first service I immediately missed that I really use a lot is Creative Commons search. Even Flickr’s option in KwiClick doesn’t further allow you to search within Flickr’s CC licensed imagery. That kind of sucks. Actually, not kind of, a lot. It’s almost a deal-breaker for me. Of course, I’ve already blabbed a lot about my love of Creative Commons, so you can read that post.
What We Need in KwiClick
So far so good, but the initial question I posed, which was whether we need a new search gadget, is a little shaken but not exactly shattered. I will probably uninstall this application after a week or so, because the experience still needs much tweaking.
For one thing, while the interface is very well-architectured, some of its aspects are rather confusing. For example, the search history and the previous/next buttons kind of clash together. You almost never know when to use which.
Another thing I don’t like is how search results are treated. KwiClick takes content and presents it inside itself, which is fine when you’re looking inside the actual KwiClick window, but doesn’t make much sense when you press the expand button. The whole purpose of a search service is to unlock the potential of what you’re searching for, in hopes that even if you didn’t find it, the tags, related items, and so on that are displayed around what you’re looking at can help.
Here’s how a Flickr image looks when expanded:
I can’t see the most important elements of information about this picture, like where it was taken, who it was taken by, when it was taken, or related images to it. It’s a little anti-practice.
Finally, which could be a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, the KwiClick hoverbox not only hovers over your browser window, but also over other applications. For example, this is how my Photoshop window looks upon using KwiClick. Often, I need the full grandeur of my 15″ screen rather than have 1/3rd of the bottom half eaten up by a search box. Of course, that could also be very good. I guess I just like my space.
Well, Try It Out Yourself…
And let us know what you think. It’s definitely worth the try. Download KwiClick here.