Yahoo! has done a nice job of optimizing its mobile website and products for use on an iPhone, but until now hasn’t released a more robust application to compete with Google’s iPhone app. That changed this past week with the introduction of Yahoo! for iPhone.
Previous Yahoo! iPhone applications focused on specific functions such as social networking (OneConnect) or web searches (Inquisitor). The new application – simply titled “Yahoo!” – is an attempt to pull together several of Yahoo!’s standard website products into one mobile software package, simulating some of the website’s primary features on your iPhone.
It’s a nice app, fairly intuitive and well designed. The application menu lists five primary components: “Featured,” “Y!News,” “My Interests,” “Connect,” and “Yahoo! Everything” (listed as “More” on the application home screen). Each of the first four menu items checks for updates since the last time you visited, and gives you the option to update your content if there is more recent information available.
“Featured” lists synopses of the current featured news items on Yahoo!’s site. If you want to read the full story, Yahoo! will launch Safari on your iPhone. Hitting the “back” button in Safari will re-launch the Yahoo! application and take you back to where you were when you left.
“Y!News” provides you with Yahoo!’s standard news categories. Interestingly, unlike the Featured page, news stories are not opened in Safari, but instead are loaded within the Yahoo! application. Text and images load quickly, but the application lacks the ability to resize either one. Yahoo! for iPhone is location aware – provided you give it permission – and will customize news entries based on your current location.
“My Interests” allows the user to select the information that is presented or add prepared materials from an already developed list, including weather, stocks, sports scores, horoscopes, and RSS feeds. My Interests offers quick customization from within the iPhone application, or if you have one, you can sign into your Yahoo! account to help automate the process. To sign in, tap the icon in the upper right corner of the screen (it’s the triangle inside the circle on the image below) or scroll to the bottom of the screen for a sign in link.
“Connect” attempts to integrate your messaging and mail services, offering connections to Yahoo! Mail (of course), AOL Mail, GMail, and Windows Live Hotmail. Yahoo! Messenger is the only messaging service currently included in the application, but access to several social networking sites is provided, including Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. You can also access your Yahoo! address book and calendar from within Connect. If you’re already a oneConnect user, you can sign in and restore your settings within the application.
“Yahoo! Everything” is pretty much what it claims to be: it’s everything else not included in the other menu items. There seems to be a bit of redundancy, as it provides additional access to Yahoo! Mail, sports, and weather information, but it does a fine job of otherwise being a catch-all for miscellaneous functions.
The application includes a Yahoo! oneSearch window at the top of each screen for general web searching, which is a nice feature. One notable shortcoming of Yahoo! for iPhone, however, is that none of the functions in the application are available in landscape mode.
I’m not necessarily a fan of all-in-one applications as they often come up short of being able to truly replace the original, stand-alone application. Yahoo! for iPhone is a nice start, and it will be interesting to see how it evolves over time. Yahoo! for iPhone is free, but it is ad-supported, so none-too-discreet advertisements will show up in various locations within the application.
What I Like: Provides quick, easy access to a number of functions and features that would otherwise require several stand-alone applications. Clean interface and location awareness are a plus, too.
What Needs Improvement: Support for landscape mode.