Yahoo Search Hits The App Store; Takes On Yelp With Sketch-A-Search

Yahoo is showing a little Apple love today, launching not one but two free search apps in Apple’s app store today. Yahoo’s basic Search app tries to bring an enhanced version of Yahoo Search to the iPhone with plenty of bells and whistles, while Yahoo’s Sketch-a-Search iPhone app is aimed towards discovering local restaurants

Yahoo’s Search app includes the ability to refine results based on your location. The app will also autosuggest local keywords when you type a query into the search box. The app delivers local content, with photos, ratings, phone numbers and more from Yahoo Local, Yelp and Citysearch. And the app includes voice search so you can speak your query. To clear a query, you shake your phone.

Yahoo’s Sketch-a-Search is a little more of a unique offering. To conduct a search, you use your finger to draw a circle or boundary on your phone’s map to look up businesses within that location. The app defaults to the users’ current location, and also allows people to search for a specific city, or area. The app initially will only deliver results for restaurants in given areas but will launch other local categories in the near future. Within the results, you can refine restaurants by cuisine, ambiance, and star rating. You can click on restaurants to read reviews, browse photos, get directions, or make a phone call from within the app. It’s similar in some ways to the functionality of Yelp or CitySearch.

Yahoo is definitely late in the game to launch a search app in the App Store. The much younger Microsoft Bing launched a search iPhone app in December. Yahoo Search on the web has been steadily losing marketshare since Bing arrived on the search scene. And with the search deal with Microsoft finally approved, Yahoo search will go through another transition. Microsoft will take over Yahoo’s organic and paid search results and blend those resources into Bing. Yahoo will continue to control the front-end UI of search on Yahoo’s sites, and consumers will continue to see and be able to use the Yahoo search engine.