Yahoo! revamping email and getting more social

Yahoo! provided a glimpse at the faded Internet search star’s future identity that included making its Web pages more personalised and social.

By (AFP)

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Published: Fri 17 Sep 2010, 9:07 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:46 AM

“You are going to see some changes from us,” Yahoo! chief product officer Blake Irving promised at a “Product Runway” event at the firm’s headquarters in Sunnyvale, California.

“You are going to see things that happen fast, that are innovative and that make customers and advertisers delighted.”

Irving joined Yahoo! a hundred days earlier as part of change brought about by chief executive Carol Bartz, who replaced company co-founder Jerry Yang as head of what was a floundering Internet search pioneer being lost in Google’s growing shadow.

Under Bartz, Yahoo! struck a recently implemented deal to have Internet queries at its Web pages handled by Microsoft’s new Bing search engine.

Engineers at Yahoo! on Thursday showed off new products, tools and services they have been able to create since shifting the “block-and-tackle” labor of scouring the Web to Microsoft.

Yahoo! has revamped its free Web-based email service and is weaving Twitter into its online pages so people can more easily fire off or view updates at the microblogging service.

Yahoo! already allows for Facebook updates and lets users import contact information from the social network.

With the goal of getting more of its 600 million users around the world to visit Yahoo! pages more, the websites will begin honoring Facebook and Twitter account sign-ins, according to Irving.

“The integration done with Facebook and Twitter is an acknowledgement that this is what people are doing,” Irving said.

“But, the social networking game isn’t over because we are going to integrate social websites. There is definitely a place that Yahoo! can go based on the assets we have today and the technology.”

A Yahoo! Groups that lets people form small online communities based on common causes or interests is being overhauled and made more social with Facebook-like features.

“People want to share (stuff) they care about with people who care about that (stuff),” said Jim Stoneham, vice president of Yahoo! Communities. “Not at the cocktail party conversation that is Facebook.”

Yahoo! also showed off a new application for Apple’s coveted iPad and other tablet computers to deliver its news pages to such devices with snazzy presentations and intuitive use of touch-screen controls.

“You are going to see us do a lot more mobile,” Irving said, referring particularly to touch-screen smartphones and tablet computers.

“Ten years from now, you will find more people typing on glass than on clickety-clack keyboards.”

The company announced new Connected TV partners to deliver more games, social networking, music, shopping, and video on demand to Internet-linked televisions embedded with snippets of Yahoo! software.

Yahoo! said it was changing its style to be more “iterative,” upgrading and evolving Web pages, tools and offerings routinely and often.

Products and changes demonstrated by Yahoo! were already being rolled out or would be in the coming months, executives said.

Yahoo! is planning to enhance the way entertainment results are presented at its search page since that is a favorite topic among visitors to its Web pages.

Search results related to movies, music artists or celebrities will combine images, news articles, videos, tweets, events and ratings, according to engineers at the firm.

Searches for news will result in videos, images, articles, and tweets combined in results pages.

“Yahoo! in three years is a global series of Web experiences across a variety of different devices that gives people what they want; the content, the folks that they care about,” Irving said of the firm’s vision.

“There is a bunch of bringing cool back to Yahoo!, saying a lot of the things that you want to do on the Web are here.”

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