announced a large number of updates to Yahoo Mail, Search, and Messenger. Yahoo Mail, for example, will now feature status updates from a user's friends on its homepage. Yahoo Search will also receive a major redesign in the near future. Even though Yahoo will obviously switch to Microsoft Bing soon, Yahoo wants to align the look and feel of its homepage and search application. In the process, Yahoo will now also highlight more of its search services, including Search Monkey, right on its search results pages.During a press conference today, Yahoo
Yahoo Mail Adds Status Updates, MyPhotos, Evite
Yahoo Mail has been improved with the idea of making it focus more on the social connections that are already implicit in users' email exchanges. The Yahoo Mail homepage will now display status updates from a user's friends on the service. If a contact uploads new images to Flickr, for example, these updates will appear on the Yahoo Mail homepage (and also in Yahoo Messenger).
Yahoo also now allows users to attach up to 25MB of photos to messages and has improved its tools to attach and view these images. To make sharing photos easier, Yahoo has integrated Xoopit's 'MyPhotos' application into Yahoo Mail. Yahoo acquired Xoopit last month. In addition, Yahoo will also integrate Evite into Yahoo Mail, which makes it easier to create invitations based on a user's address book.
In addition, Yahoo has also updated its mobile, web-based version of Yahoo Mail. The site is now a lot cleaner and allows users to read Word, Excel, and PowerPoint attachments right from within the web application.
Some of these updates are quite reminiscent of what Microsoft is doing with its Live products. On Windows Live, for example, users can also aggregate their updates from other services and see what their friends are doing online. While Yahoo is integrating all these services into Yahoo Mail, Microsoft Live splits all these tools up into separate applications.
Despite Bing Deal, Yahoo Redesigns Search
Interestingly, Yahoo also decided to preview an updated look and feel of Yahoo Search. The new look will feature a three-column layout, similar to the Yahoo homepage. While most of Yahoo's own search engine technology will obviously soon disappear in favor of Microsoft Bing, Yahoo wants to align the layout of its search engine with the rest of its services. The new layout brings services like Search Monkey and data filters into a column on the left side. None of these are new services, though they do bring old services that were often underutilized to the foreground.
Yahoo will also give its users a better way to search for people. Once these updates go live, whenever somebody uses Yahoo Search to find information about a person, Yahoo will display data from LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed, and Facebook.
Nice, But What About Bing?
All of these updates are quite nice, though once Yahoo switches over to Bing, it will remain to be seen how many of Yahoo's search tools will actually survive the transition. During today's presentation, Larry Cornett, Yahoo's VP of Search Products and Design, stressed that the company will continue to invest in search technologies. During the Q&A session after today's presentation, Yahoo also focused on the fact that it will continue to control how search results are displayed, even if those results come from Bing. Yahoo will also continue to be able to add on to Bing's results, which sounds as if programs like Search Monkey could survive the transition.
Yahoo also announced updates to Yahoo Messenger. The new beta of Messenger 10 will launch in 25 countries and will feature support for status updates, similar to Yahoo Mail. None of these updates are extremely exciting, though it is important to remember that Yahoo Messenger has a lot of users, both in the US and worldwide. Many of these users will surely appreciate these updates, which, among others, include support for high-quality video calls.