Ask.com has upgraded to a new interface called, Ask3D. The 3D makes reference to the three panels of information on the search results page. Ask X was the development playground for Ask3D and includes some interesting features including the display of search results from specialized data sources that are unique to the query.
At first glance, the big difference between Ask X and Ask3D is the initial interface. Ask X is a search box and nothing else. Ask3D provides categories for Web, Images, Ask City, News, Blogs and the extras: video, maps and shopping. The search results page is very similar with 3 columns.
There are a number of improvements including the binoculars function showing larger preview images, one click saving to your Ask favorites and in some cases, the ability to play video clips from the third column search results.
I think this is a great effort from Ask and the user experience and aesthetics are a big improvement. The variety of search results sources from the specialty data bases is great, but some of the results in the 3rd column, especially video, have a ways to go in terms of relevancy.
Thanks to Gary Price for the heads up and I hope IAC and Ask continue to work on improvements.