What adjectives would you use to describe Google as a company? Maybe cool, inventive, forward-thinking, a fun place to work. How about Yahoo? I’d go for old fashioned, stale, boring, strict.
That’s why Yahoo hired former Google exec Marissa Mayer last summer. They want Yahoo to sound more like Google, but Mayer’s first few weeks in the office did little to improve the company’s image. Nine months later, she’s still known as the woman who rescinded Yahoo’s telecommuting policy but she’s working to change that, too.
Speaking at the Great Place to Work Conference, Mayer defended her decision saying,
“. . people are more productive when they’re alone but they’re more collaborative and innovative when they’re together. Some of the best ideas come from pulling two different ideas together.”
Two of those ideas hit the market this week – newly designed mobile apps meant to prove that Yahoo is still a contender.
First is the new weather app for iOS. Weather apps are extremely popular. I don’t understand why but maybe that’s because I live in Southern California where weather conditions only effect us a few times a year. Like all weather apps, Yahoo’s will tell you the temperature and the forecast for the coming week. But what sets it apart are the graphics.
Yahoo’s new weather app uses photos from Flickr to illustrate the weather conditions in whatever city you happen to be standing in. Whether its raining in Paris or sunny in St. Louis (they don’t have graphics for every city in the world, but you get the idea), day or night, and I love the big, bold text. You can add multiple cities if you’re traveling or if you just like knowing what the temperature is in your old home town.
The Yahoo weather app is as simple as can be and there’s something really exciting and elegant about that.
Once you select an email message, you can tap the full screen button and eliminate all the unnecessary minutiae that clutters up the traditional email screen.
You can view photos in full screen mode, watch the video your friend sent or just enjoy a long message without having to scroll past lots of clutter. From here, you can swipe to get to the next message and the one after that. It’s a small change but it’s the difference between “processing tasks” and “reading your email.” It’s actually a mechanism that forces you to slow down and pay attention to what you’re reading. They show it here with a short message and a photo. Imagine your customers reading your company newsletter this way. That’s engagement.
For those times when you do need to process your email quickly, the new app can do that, too. Check several related emails and the app automatically pulls everything from that sender. Now you can toss all of those Facebook notifications with one click or find all the parts of a co-worker’s conversation with just a few taps.
The app also uses swipe to quickly delete and move messages and there’s a search box to help you locate what you need.
I moved from Yahoo to Gmail years ago, but these features are almost enough to make me switch back.
Good job, Yahoo. What’s next?