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Today, Yahoo released a major update to its flagship iOS app, which includes features such as endless scrolling of news stories and the addition of algorithms from the company’s acquisition of Summly.  In the blog post, written by Marissa Mayer, she says the new Yahoo app is, “beautifully designed with smaller screens in mind,” and that, “the new Yahoo! is all about delivering the best of the web — right on your phone.”  I’ll give her that, the app does look better (when visuals are enabled) and the quick integration of Summly, a company who Yahoo acquired less than a month ago is pretty impressive to see.

While the new Yahoo app is quick and very responsive, I feel like not a lot of thought went into the design — it’s pretty basic looking by default, just a list of stories and blue links, one and after the other.  When you enable the photo visuals (they aren’t by default), the app comes more to life and offers a better and more inviting experience.  It’s also worth noting that you also have to enable visuals to get the Summly summaries, which I’ve found to be pretty good so far.

yahoo-new-app-basic

It is great to see Mayer making some quick moves, it definitely gives off the impression that she’s working to make Yahoo much more agile. Which is something Yahoo absolutely needs to be to compete against the heavyweights in the space now, including Google and Facebook.  Last Thursday, for example, Yahoo released a much more polished weather app for iOS.  If you didn’t know, Yahoo’s data is used in the weather app Apple installs in all iPhones (as evidenced by the Yahoo logo in the lower left-hand corner).  The new Yahoo weather app utilizes Flickr to improve the look of the app, while presenting other data like sunrise and sunset times in original, intuitive design.

Pushing full-steam ahead on mobile appears to be where Mayer is focusing right now. Developing a great suite of Yahoo apps that gets people entrenched into the Yahoo ecosystem seems to be the end-game.  But even with these quick moves, Yahoo still has an extremely long way to go.  While Yahoo’s earnings of 38 cents per share crushed estimates of 25 cents, revenue was slightly below analyst forecasts, and guidance for revenue in the current quarter is also below what Wall Street has been expecting.

This is a trend you can expect to continue for some time.  Right now, the better earnings could be attributed to cost cutting measures such as the fact Yahoo killed off several products since Mayer took the reins.  Additionally, Yahoo’s 24 percent stake in Alibaba is doing very well for the company.

Bottom line: Mayer needs a lot more time to right the ship, but these are great first steps. I’m not ready to write-off Yahoo just yet.


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