Project “Grand Slam”, Yahoo’s mission to “bring a more coherent look and identity to Yahoo’s pages” in the words of CEO Marissa Mayer, is today flying over one of Yahoo’s flagship properties, the Yahoo iPhone app, where it has traditionally aggregated all of its different content features and provided a window for people to search the web. Today, to coincide with iOS 7, the Yahoo app is being released with a new redesign, incorporating its new logo, as well as a number of new features, from breaking news and read-it-later slinging through to Tumblr integration, that Yahoo hopes will catapult it into becoming a more useful (and more enjoyable) consumer app.
As with much of what Yahoo has been doing of late with its mobile services, a lot of this is about playing catch-up with many of the products that are out there today. Here’s a list and short description of some of the most important changes:
“My Saves”: This is an Instapaper-style feature that lets users tag content that they are interested in reading, so that they can either return to it later on mobile or web. Yahoo says that the web-to-mobile element is still in the works but will be coming shortly. I’m still trying to figure out if this is something that Yahoo has developed internally, or whether its one of the by-products of its many recent acquisitions. We’ve seen Yahoo making quick use of other acquired features in other apps. It’s what it did with Flickr, which uses GhostBird features, and indeed in its news app — which was updated earlier this year with more summaries provided by way of Yahoo’s Summly acquisition. In any case, My Saves is something that will potentially keep people reading Yahoo content for longer… if using can find something in those mainly short articles that they thing is worth digging further into.
Breaking news: It’s a surprise that Yahoo’s app has been too static up to now to include this content, but it’s good to have it here. Essentially what you get now is a list of stories along with a little note at the top giving you an alert to when new content has been added, not unlike the update at the top of Twitter’s timeline.
Cinemagraphs: This is a hattip to Tumblr and the generally more engaging idea of video and GIFs, with some images now incorporating small movements within them. While right now there doesn’t appear to be any advertising in the app (at least in the beta that I tested), it’s features like that that are essential to have built in there so that they can later get sold out to advertisers at a premium. To go along with the GIFs, integration with Tumblr, which Yahoo purchased earlier this year for $1.1 billion, has now been added in alongside sharing to other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.
Navigation: You can scroll down to see a list of stories, but when you are in each story, you swipe horizontally to read on. This mimics the gestures in the Weather app and shows how Yahoo is trying to better unify the experience.
For now it looks features like My Saves are only available in the U.S.
The left-hand hidden column of the app lets users navigate between different content sections at Yahoo, and it also does something else: it promotes other apps from the Internet giant, including Flickr, Yahoo Mail, and Yahoo Weather. For now all of Yahoo’s apps are free, but it’s interesting to note that this is actually indicated on the app. That makes me wonder if Yahoo is also laying the groundwork for further, paid services down the line.