Move over, Google Search

Do@ for iPhone is a hipper, more visual way to search for stuff online.

Imagine that you're searching for a restaurant or for a movie time on your iPhone, but instead of receiving a long list of links, you see thumbnail images for Web sites instead. Meet Do@ (doo-at), an iPhone freebie that does just that.

With Do@, search results aren't just thumbnails for pages you have to load, they're active Web sites that you can enter, explore, and exit without losing the rest of those live site results.

Search begins with a query as usual, and when you start typing, the app supplies suggestions--not for common phrases, but for contextual categories to narrow your search. For example, type "Inception" and you'll get to pick from suggestions like "Inception @search," "@movies," and so on. Type sushi and you'll see restaurant, recipe, and Amazon category types. The app launches with about 30 categories and more than 400 searchable Web apps.

There are all the usual social networking tie-ins like sharing on Twitter, Facebook, and via e-mail, and marking favorites. The app is notably rich as well, with tricks like being able to scrub through a filmstrip of visual search results, and scroll beyond a first page of results to a second, even third batch. The more you pick a site in your search results, the closer to the top of your results list you'll see it on subsequent searches (you can remove the app to downshift its importance in future attempts.) If your friends use Do@, their recommendations will also surface higher in your results queue.

Do@'s media and lifestyle focus is clear, as is its goal to revolutionize search. Unlike other apps that claim such a feat, Do@'s visual approach is actually innovative, interesting, and useful.

Do@ does have some kinks to work out, however. For example, the interface could be a tad more intuitive for new users who don't know all the tricks; although Do@ does get kudos for its tutorial link. The app lacks a sorely-needed search history, and it could more intelligently offer up categories. So when you're typing in a known movie, "@movies" should be the first option you see. We also hope to see voice search enabled in future updates, and for Do@ to find a way to always be faster and easier than traditional search.

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