By Jim Karpen on Tue, 04/23/2013
New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who had previously been a key player at Google, sees mobile devices as central to re-energizing her moribund company. And the new version of the Yahoo app is definitely a positive sign of good things to come. Just released today, the new version lets you quickly scan your favorite news topics, while training it to find those items of greatest interest. If this sounds familiar, it may be because these features characterized the very popular Summly app, which Yahoo purchased less than a month ago. The company has now integrated the features of Summly into Yahoo. You can read more on CEO Mayer's blog post on the Yahoo Yodel official blog.
Mayer appreciates how central our mobile devices have become to our consumption of news, and says the goal of the app is to deliver the best of the web — news, sports, entertainment — to your iPhone. The app uses natural-language algorithms and machine learning to give you convenient, bite-sized summaries of the news. Interestingly, the app was originally developed by 15-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, because in his school work he needed a way to sift through and sort the plethora of content on relevant web pages. That young man is now 19 years old and $30 million richer.
You can customize the app according to your interests. And then, as you read an item, the app gives you a list of related topics. You can indicate which topics are of interest, and those that are irrelevant. The app learns from this, and in the future uses your feedback to give you only those news items that interest you the most. As Mayer says, "The more you use Yahoo!, the more relevant and interesting the experience becomes." Plus, if you're logged in, the feedback you give will then be carried over to your other devices and desktop computer.
Mayer says Yahoo also has improved your search experience via the app by giving you improved video and image searching.
The app is attractively designed. Plus, Yahoo offers a virtually endless stream of stories, so you'll get plenty of what you like. As is typical in apps today, you can email or share your favorite news items via Facebook and Twitter.
There's not yet an iPad-specific version of the app. I hope Yahoo comes out with one soon.