If there’s one thing the world doesn’t need, it’s another browser app. From Chrome, Edge, and Firefox to Safari, Opera, Vivaldi, and countless others, internet users are pretty well set when it comes to browsing the web.
However, that isn’t stopping one Utah-based startup from launching a new mobile browser app that lets users “swipe” through search results as web pages, rather than clicking back and forth on separate links.
Following a limited release on iOS and Android, Cake is launching its browser globally for everyone from today, and the company revealed it has secured $5 million in funding from Peak Ventures, Pelion Ventures, and Kickstart Seed Fund.
How it works
Although the major mobile browsers do offer some different features, they are broadly similar in terms of how you interact with them: You set a default search engine, enter your keywords, and scroll through the results until you find what you’re after. Cake, however, veers from that well-traveled course by giving you the results already loaded in tabs that you swipe through from left to right.
When you first set things up with Cake, you’re asked to select your default search engine from either Google or Bing, and Cake then guides you through a few need-to-know tidbits about the app.
You’ll be able to search for whatever you want as you normally would, and then you’ll see a bunch of tabs along the top for each website in question.
There is an option to view All Results when you swipe to the left of the first tab, which shows the search results in a traditional scrollable format. However, that isn’t what Cake is all about — rather than clicking in and out of each result, you just swipe to the left to read the results already loaded on their own pages.
Based on our brief tests, the Cake browser worked well, though I do have some reservations about whether this search format solves enough of a problem to really take off in a meaningful way. There is a lot to be said for scrolling through search results, seeing just snippets of a page, the publication date, and so on, before deciding whether you want to read more. Being able to skim a bunch of search results, which may also include news, maps, directions, opening times, and more, holds a certain value.
However, Cake injects a number of other search-focused smarts into the mix. Users can search across categories and services at the same time — this means you can search for images, news, shopping, or videos from specific domains. For example, if you elect to search for “men’s slippers” from shopping results, Cake will display the results from Google, Amazon, Walmart, Nextag, eBay, and more. Similarly, if you’re on the hunt for funny cat videos, you can swipe between results on YouTube, Vimeo, Google, Yandex, and others.
Users can also choose and reorder the destination websites so that they see results from their favorite sites first.
Activity in recent months suggests that the browser wars are starting to heat up again, with Mozilla recently unveiling the all-new Firefox to much praise and Microsoft trying to regain ground with Edge. The fact is, people still spend a considerable amount of time inside a browser, thus browsers hold a lot of sway over the web-based services that rely on them.
“Mobile browsing in 2018 is still startlingly close to desktop browsing in the late 1990s, and it’s time for that to change,” said Cake cofounder and CEO Kendall Hulet. “At Cake, we re-imagined the browser to take full advantage of high-speed connections and touch-enabled mobile devices — something no one has really done for the smartphone until now.”
The company’s fresh $5 million injection constitutes a $2 million seed round plus $3 million in convertible notes, with a series A round planned for 2019. Of course, the big question is how Cake plans to make money. The company was a little cagey on specifics, but it did mention that it was “testing permutations” around putting paid placements in the swipeable tabs — as things stand, Cake only shows organic search results. The company added that it has an opportunity to “re-imagine the way paid placements work on mobile” by connecting the user to the advertiser in a more meaningful way.
“Web browsers haven’t changed much in the last decade, and frankly, they’re kind of boring,” added Cake cofounder Jase Bosarge. “Younger smartphone users have grown up with user-friendly, mobile-native apps, and it’s time for the mobile browser to catch up.”
Cake first launched as a limited beta on iOS last July before rolling out to everyone in a handful of test markets — including Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Canada — in October. The company later launched in beta on Android in December. As of today, Cake is available globally to everyone on both Android and iOS.