Yahoo Unleashes New Features in Mail, Messenger and Search

yahoologoUpdated with additional details throughout: Yahoo is releasing a series of updates today for its Mail and Messenger consumer web products, and it plans to test features in search that will be launched later this year. This follows the company’s debut of its new, cleaner homepage last month.

Mail now has a more streamlined interface that’s similar to the updated homepage and incorporates a new Application Box that includes its Calendar application and third-party apps. In addition, a new Evite application to be launched next month will let people create and view invites within Mail. Yahoo is also expanding Mail’s attachment limits for photos and files to 25MB from 10MB, and you’ll be able to upload and edit photos directly within an email. A new Mail mobile program is rolling out for Safari today and will be available on more than 400 devices, starting Sept. 1. The new Mail mobile program looks similar to Google’s Gmail interface on the iPhone.

As for Messenger, people can view friends’ updates from Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. Yahoo is also releasing a video call feature for Messenger that people can opt to make full-screen.

There’s also an option to put a person on hold during a video call. To make it easier to access more information and content, there’s a new Yahoo Insider feature within Messenger that resembles a smaller version of the homepage. Insider pops up on the left side of the Messenger box and has tabs for people to access Mail, top headlines and local news, as well as local weather updates. Of course, there’s a search box within Insider, too.

The search features Yahoo is currently testing out make it easier to access results from third-party sites, especially when searching for people. “Searching for people has been Google’s domain,” said Larry Cornett, Yahoo VP of Search Products and Design, “but we’re taking that away from them.”

Cornett demonstrated a search for how to make sushi. An array of search results showed up in the middle of the homepage as usual, but on the left-hand side of the page were links to sites such as WikiHow, eHow, YouTube and HowStuffWorks to help him easily find step-by-step instructions. Then, he switched his search to look for sushi restaurants near Sunnyvale, Calif., Yahoo’s headquarters, and links for Yelp, Yahoo Travel and Local.com popped up. If you click on one of the links, you’re directed to the page within the browser, which is a capability that ultimately works to keep you on Yahoo’s site longer. The improved data filters featured on the left side of the page are intended to help people find objects they’ve searched for previously, such as a video or a resume, rather than web pages.

The new search features will be rolled out in the coming months to a small group of U.S. users chosen at random, so some people will get a sneak peek before the rest of us do.

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