announced a closed beta of a major update to its online calendaring application that will feature a tighter integration with Yahoo Mail and other Yahoo properties. The new calendar is based on the Zimbra platform, which Yahoo acquired in 2007, and will support both the iCalendar and CalDAV standards for exchanging information with other calendaring services.Yahoo today
Among the new features are the ability to enhance your calendar with photos from Flickr, a built-in to-do list, and support for drag and drop. Yahoo Calendar can now also send out reminders for important events by email, IM, or SMS.
In addition, Yahoo is now making it easier for groups to keep track of common activities by extending the sharing features in Yahoo Calendar.
Yahoo will roll this new functionality out slowly, starting as a closed beta in the U.S., Brazil, India, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Over time, Yahoo will roll the new calendar out to all Yahoo Mail users.
According to Yahoo's data, only about 8 million out of its 280 million Yahoo mail customers use Yahoo's Calendar now. As John Kremer, Yahoo's VP for Yahoo Mail, told us today, this was one of the main reasons why Yahoo started redesigning the calendar. John also told us that he thought now was the right time to reevaluate the calendar, as users are starting to become more comfortable with online calendaring and calendar sharing. Also, the widespread adoption of open standards like iCal and CalDAV is making it easier for different services to provide interoperability and is driving the adoption of online calendars.
Until now, Yahoo did not integrate the Yahoo Calendar well with Yahoo Mail. While Google Mail has far fewer users than Yahoo Mail, its users are far more likely to also use the Google Calendar, thanks to, in no small part, the straightforward integration between the two.
Cleaner, Easier to Use Interface
The new interface for Yahoo Calendar is a lot cleaner than the old one and integrates a number of features from Zimbra's calendar, including the ability to zoom in and out from a specific date.
The integration with Flickr is still in its early stages. Right now, the calendar will only display a limited set of Flickr's recently highlighted photos, but over time, Yahoo will allow you to choose your own pictures.
In this new beta, Yahoo also now allows you to layer different calendars and gives you very granular controls for sharing these. You can also very easily subscribe to other calendars. Yahoo will also make it very easy to integrate calendar information from other Yahoo properties, including Yahoo TV and Sports.
In the next version of this beta, Yahoo will also integrate a number of social features into the calendar, including data from Upcoming.org. It also looks like Yahoo is planning another overhaul of the site's design to incorporate these features.
Yahoo Taking the Lead for Mainstream Adoption of Calendaring Standards
Other online calendars like Google Calendar or 30 Boxes already offer a lot of this functionality, but Yahoo Calendar has a far wider mainstream adoption than any other calendar. It's good to see that Yahoo is taking the lead here and is planning to roll this beta out publicly around Q1 of 2009, as Yahoo can lead the market towards greater adoption of these open standards and online calendaring in general.