Xayn: User-friendly and privacy-friendly web research
I like the idea that there are a number of ways that people can take back control of their data, and I really like the fact that my web search results aren’t used to show me ultra-targeted ads.
I’ve been using DuckDuckGo for a while now, Presearch when I have Chrome as my browser, and Startpage is my search tab on my Edge browser. Recently I took a look at the app from German start-up Xayn for my Android device.
It is based on research in the field of AI, protects privacy and ensures being transparent and ethical in the fashion of the GDPR. In short, the application allows you to control its search algorithms. By swiping left or right on the results, you can influence the results displayed and teach algorithms which results you want to see more often.
Multilingual BERT quantified and optimized for mobile
Its AI model is a tiny multilingual BERT quantified and mobile-optimized to understand the natural language of the words you used in your query as well as in the results. It then uses an unsupervised clustering model to group these points into different interest groups – for example, sports or the arts. It then calculates the distance from the clusters to reduce the computational cost in the future.
A third model called ListNet analyzes the history of search interactions to understand what types of domains you like – for example, Wikipedia instead of Instagram.
Internet companies want to know as much as possible about you so that they can control the results provided to you. The problem is, in order to get the most accurate search results, users have to compromise their privacy. Xayn keeps his data entirely with the user on this point.
One-handed navigation and click-free search
With Xayn, users can customize features like turning on AI to get unique search results and can turn it off if they don’t want that feature.
The application is navigable with one hand and a click-free search is possible for ease of use. Collect, store and sort your favorite web content so that no information is lost. And your home screen displays your own personal web feed, determined by your search history.
“I’ve always hated having to choose between privacy and convenience when researching online. I also found it scary not knowing why certain results were being shown to me by the algorithms. Despite all this, I still used the search giants, because I was wasting too much time finding what I was looking for with the alternatives protecting privacy, ”explains Leif Nissen Lundbæk, co-founder and CEO of Xayn.
The only challenge I see with Xayn is that users risk rejecting any news articles that don’t match their beliefs. And so there is a risk that the app will show more and more right or left content over time. Users prefer to see the types of articles they like and form a “filter bubble” to validate their choice. Really smart AI may one day solve this problem – but, for now, this neat, customizable app will give you exactly the results you want to see with the privacy you need.