Posted February 27, 2006 8:57 am by with 2 comments

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Today we, finally, say goodbye to Ask’s butler and welcome a cleaner, more streamlined version of

As part of the rebranding to “”, the search engine rolls-out a whole host of new features.

* New Homepage: A new sleek design, the page is cleaner and more straightforward.

* The “Toolbox�?: Homepage shortcuts to more than 20 search tools, including maps, images, weather, dictionary, local and desktop search. The Toolbox is easily customizable to include the tools someone uses most. The Toolbox can be opened or closed depending on user preference.

* Maps: New and improved Maps and Driving Directions that combine an AJAX-based interface with a differentiated set of mapping tools to create the easiest way to build an itinerary. Includes:
-Drag-able location pins that automatically recalculate directions, even when you don’t know the address
-Right-click to add a location for any point on a map
-Build an itinerary with up to 10 locations
-Get walking directions, in addition to driving – an industry first that allows consumers to find the best way to get to their destination on foot (great for city-dwellers)
-Hit a “Play�? button to take a visual test drive of your directions (great for forks in the road)
-Open and close a left-hand information panel to enable wider map view
-Overhead map views taken through aerial photography, which provides better visual resolution than satellite photos for most locations

* Encyclopedia Search: Utilizing content from Wikipedia, Houghton Mifflin and Columbia, displays direct answers right at the top of the results page.

* Web-based Desktop Search: Desktop Search users now have the ability to access their files and emails through their Web browser, in addition to a standalone application. is the only search engine to offer both choices. Desktop Search can now be accessed via the new Toolbar.

* Shaded Sponsored Listings: now has the fewest ads of any major search destination on the first screen of results. With Smart Answers, is also the only search engine to place editorial results above advertisements.

“The new is like having a speed dial to the best search has to offer.�? said Jim Lanzone, general manager of U.S. “With the new site, we’ve continued our singular focus of innovating at the core of search – where it matters most to people. We’ve put unique search tools in the right place, at the right time, freeing people from wading through endless links so they can get to the good stuff faster.�?

As part of the new branding, Ask will also retire the Teoma brand and roll it into Ask.

I have a feeling this is going to be Ask’s year. It’s going to be exciting to hear what Barry Dillar has planned when he keynotes SES this morning. You can catch the live audio by following these instructions.