Aviate, the mobile homescreen application Yahoo acquired at the beginning of the year, has today received a notable update that will allow Android smartphone owners to search for contacts or apps installed on their device, or search across the web, all from a single interface. The web search is powered by Yahoo, the company notes – which means that Aviate users will be connected to Yahoo’s results without having to open a web browser.
Instead, Yahoo Aviate’s search results appear directly on the phone’s homescreen, the company explains.
Yahoo is not the default search engine on Android devices. And because it can be difficult to get users to change the settings on their mobile phones, winning search deals like the one Yahoo and Mozilla just agreed upon (and the iOS deal Yahoo is fighting for) – is still critical for the company. But by bundling “search” as a feature within the updated Aviate app, Yahoo has found a way to integrate its own services more deeply on mobile devices without being dependent on OS or browser defaults.
Meanwhile, smartphone users are drawn to Aviate not because of its Yahoo integration, but because it offers what some would consider an improved interface for mobile devices. Aviate’s launcher app provides a simpler phone layout where the content that’s presented to the end user changes throughout the day – for example, information about traffic conditions appear during your morning commute; calendar appointments are prominent while you’re at work; and when you’re listening to music, your favorite music apps appear.
According to data from Google Play, the Aviate application has been downloaded somewhere between 1 million and 5 million times.
The ability to search across your device is not unique to Aviate, however. Android users have been able to search their phones for contacts and apps for some time, and starting a year ago, Google introduced the ability for users to search within their applications, too, thanks to advances in deep linking technology.
Yahoo’s Aviate isn’t there yet. The new feature is today more akin to Apple’s Spotlight search, which only points to apps that match a search query, in addition to matching contacts, suggested websites, and Wikipedia pages.
But Aviate could expand into deep linked search results at some point – after all, Yahoo bought deep linking ad firm Sparq in January, and now pushes app install ads via its Gemini network and more recently, Tumblr. It has the technical capabilities, that is. Aviate’s new search widget and homescreen-based search results that let users get to websites or launch apps without using a web browser seems to be an ideal place to further integrate this sort of technology in the future.
Yahoo says the new feature is currently only available for English-speaking U.S. users, but it will expand access to others “soon.”