Yahoo announced last week at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain that the company was working to improve consumers' ability to use Yahoo from their mobile phones. The company has made significant improvements to it's Yahoo Mobile service on the web and it is promising a new Yahoo Mobile app that will be available in the second quarter of 2009.
The Web version of Yahoo Mobile is available now and it works well with the iPhone. The native app itself is currently in limited beta, and we have not yet seen it. However, according to the announcement, the mobile Web and iPhone versions of Yahoo Mobile will include the following features:
Discover: using Yahoo onSearch for Web searches and Today to see and read selected news stories from Yahoo's editorial team.
Connect: Yahoo oneConnect for staying in touch with people via email (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo mail, etc.), social networking connectivity through Pulse (i.e. Bebo, Facebook, Flickr, MySpace, Twitter, etc.), access to Yahoo Messenger, access to Yahoo Address Book and Yahoo Calendar. This feature is intended to serve as a social networking tool.
Stay Informed: access to breaking news headlines via Yahoo News and Yahoo onePlace which will allow users to manage their favorite content with an "Add Anything" function that lets users find what they want and add it to Yahoo Mobile. This feature will support RSS feeds, weather, sports scores, stock quotes, etc.
The native Yahoo Mobile app will include all the above, and:
Yahoo oneSearch with Voice: voice searches by simply speaking.
Maps: improved tools for locating, learning about and getting directions to different points of interest.
Opera Mini 4.2: will supposedly be integrated into the Yahoo Mobile app. We seriously doubt that this will remain intact on the iPhone version of Yahoo Mobile due to Apple's strict restrictions--Mobile Safari will likely replace Opera in the iPhone iteration. At press time we were not able to clarify this issue with Yahoo.
Widgets: according to the announcement these are: "Enhanced mobile-optimized experiences for services from Yahoo and other brands. Users can browse, add and remove these at anytime according to their tastes." It remains to be seen if this feature will remain intact in the iPhone version Yahoo Mobile, because it could be construed a competitor to the iTunes App Store, and introduce a way to run non-Apple approved apps on the iPhone. At press time we were not able to clarify this issue with Yahoo, either.
The Web version of Yahoo Mobile is up and running under a managed beta progra, and interested iPhone users can give it a try at http://mobile.yahoo.com/. It is expected to go live and into production in late March 2009.