Quixey's mobile search lets you dig deep into apps for results

The startup hopes to bring forth what it believes is the next step in running searches on your smartphone.

Quixey

BARCELONA, Spain -- Quixey thinks it can do mobile search better.

The Mountain View, Calif., startup on Tuesday showed off the capability to run mobile searches and bring up results straight from apps -- including apps that aren't even on the phone. The company believes these kinds of deeper searches will make it a go-to tool on smartphones.

For example, run a search for an Italian restaurant, and Quixey will not only bring up listings, but also utilize apps to bring up information such as ratings or even table and reservation availability. You wouldn't just get links, but real-time information and the option to make reservations on the spot.

"The idea is to lower borders and make apps comfortable," Quixey CEO Tomer Kagan told CNET.

It's the next step in Quixey's quest to shake up the mobile search business. In October, the company launched an app on the Google Play store that lets you find other apps based on questions you type in normal language, a departure from the status quo of searching for apps by name or looking through app stores for the most popular selections.

Quixey's latest capability adds another level of usefulness to its search, breaking what it calls the "walled garden" of data within each application, and coming up with the most relevant results regardless of source. Quixey will be able to draw upon information from select apps that aren't even on your phone, which would provide an incentive for you to download that app.

Now, searching for data locked up in apps isn't as simple as casting a wider net, and Quixey is starting small with its announcement at Mobile World Congress. The company will start with restaurant search results, folding in data from apps in that area.

Get recipes straight from the app. Quixey

But as of the interview, Quixey only counted Allthecooks Recipes and Spotify as participants, but the startup was looking to nail down a few more partners. For now, the results will bring up recipes and information on artists and tracks based on those two apps. If you click on the play button in the search results of Quixey, your phone will switch over to the Spotify app or ask you to download it. The company is working with developers to explore more interactive results.

At the conference, Quixey showed off a platform that allows app developers to allow the search engine to access its info. The hope is that Quixey's search results will bring up critical data from an app, enticing someone into downloading it.

Full CNET coverage of the 2014 Mobile World Congress

Quixey will run a beta test with a larger group of partners after the show, and hopes to launch in late March or early April, according to Kagan.

Kagan compares Quixey's smarter results to the kind of results you get when using Google on a PC. Type "foreign currency exchange" into Google, and you won't just get links to currency exchange Web sites, but also a foreign currency calculator. You want to travel to Las Vegas? Google it and you'll get a list of available flights you can purchase straight from the site.

Quixey believes that same kind of easy access can be had on a mobile device, but acknowledges it will take time.

"This is not a simple challenge," he said. "It's enormous for us."

Indeed, while Quixey powers some well known app search engines, including Sprint's app store and Ask.com, it has had limited success as its own Android app. Kagan says it has crossed six figures in downloads and is on its way to seven figures, and noted that half of the people who install it are regular users.

"It's doing okay," Kagan said.

A majority of the nearly 600 reviews of the app found in the Google Play store were overwhelmingly positive, so it has slow, but enthusiastic, traction.

The deep search feature introduced at the show will trickle out to the consumer app, as well as its partners, so they all get the same benefit.

About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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