With the slogan that "size does matter", a new search engine named CUIL has recently made public. Its main feature is that it indexes "many more Web pages than others", reaching 121,617,892,992 at the time of this writing.
As it is brand new, one should not expect it having all the features you love in your usual search engine. The features that make it different is:
- The size of the index.
- Presenting the results in columns with a relatively long summary (surrogate), that may include a picture.
- Adding categories on the right side and as tabs, with definitions as tips.
- Using black as background color.
Regarding the size of the index, I have made my usual test, that is searching for me with my name as a phrase: "jose maria gomez hidalgo" (you never know what you may find!). Cuil reports only 9 results, while Google reports 627. If the search is for the words instead of the phrase, you get 762 in Cuil and 2.290.000 in Google. In this second case, you may argue that Cuil could be only reporting web pages with all the words, and Google with any of the words. But the search for the phrase is very informative. Also, how is anyone interested in opening the Search Engine Wars again?
Presenting the results in columns is very innovative for a search engine. In a era of increasing size of monitors, this can be a valuable help. However, I believe that using graphic previews as in Searchme really makes a difference regarding user experience. Longer summaries are natural when using columns, and the (optional) picture may be of help in many cases. Of course, if the picture is correct. In the case of my search, I have not been able to find a correct picture (that should be of mine).
The categories used as a context to some searches could really make a difference. In the features section of Cuil, the demo on a search for "jaguar" looks great, but the same search does not get the expected categories. These categories and their definitions seem not so "Yahoo! style", that is, thematic (Arts, Entertainment, etc.), but more like "Wikipedia style" - topics defined by users in a Encyclopedia. While there is some kind of hierarchy, it seems that Cuil reports Encyclopedia articles in which the query words occur. I do not see easily the technique (it deserves more time, as this may be a very good point for Cuil).
In general, I may say that Cuil does not look so great.