Freaky-weird mobile search app, Leap2, actually works

It looks like a slot machine has taken over a search app. But it's worth a shot.

Leap2 gives you a busy, but surprisingly useful, view of search results. Screenshot by Rafe Needleman/CNET

I didn't like Leap2 when I got the demo. It's a new iPhone search app that replaces the Google-standard, ultra-clean search interface with a bunch of list wheels and a tabbed results window. It looks complicated, slow, and unattractive.

But, oddly, it works.

As you type in your query, you'll see similar queries appear in a list wheel above and below what you type. To the right of your query, there's a wheel of icons you can select: news results, web pages, "buzz" (social results), images, and so forth.

The results window, on the lower half of the screen, shows tabs for three results, with the best one open (and the others to the left and right). If you swipe up on the Web result windows, it takes over the whole screen. You can swipe down to get the search wheels back.

In other words, it's a whole mess of information. And there are some issues. The app itself is slow to load, which is not what you want when you fire up a search. And you only get three result tabs per combination of the jackpot wheels that you spin.

Unlike other search experiments, Leap2 gives you a very good view of the context of your search results and the related queries you might want to try next (which are now just a click away). And while it's a little slower to enter in searches due to the busy interface, the results and options you get back are very quick to scan and use.

Leap2 is the anti-Siri. It's a search interface for geeks. I can't give it a Rafe Recommends, and frankly, I don't think it'll do very well in a world of super-simple interfaces backed up by AI that does a good-enough job. But if you like getting results that are a bit better than everyone else's, and don't mind putting in the effort to get them, Leap2 is worth the download.

The app is free. It's available on iOS today. An Android version is in the works.

Also keep an eye on: DoAt.

 

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