Yahoo has released an update to its flagship mobile app and homepage that’s designed to keep you informed and let you more easily participate in conversations about hot topics. The app will now display the latest and most relevant developing stories in a near-endless news stream. And since this change is reflected on both your phone and web browser, the overall customer experience should be seamless — but only if you’re logged in with your Yahoo ID.
For some, the Yahoo homepage is akin to the “front page” of the Internet. But for the longest time, the company has held onto its website-first mentality (rather than mobile-first), even when releasing an iOS and Android app. Recently though, teams led by Yahoo senior vice president Simon Khalaf and vice president of product management Dave Bottoms took note of several trends that this update capitalizes on.
The first is around the adoption of the app model. Khalaf explained that a look at usage behaviors reveals that people have grown accustomed to everything being app-like, in other words, they “don’t want to do the old model.” Another insight centers around the fragmentation of the media experience: “People consume in one place, but talk about it in another place,” Khalaf said, explaining that Yahoo is looking to combine consumption and conversation so they can occur simultaneously.
Lastly, mobile has shown Yahoo that people now have more time on their hands, not less. And with this freedom, they want to ingest all the content they can from all angles.
The power of this update will be most evident when you log into your Yahoo account. From the homepage, you can tell the system what topics you’re interested in, make comments quickly under a specific story, reblog it, and more. The intention is to help you discover stories you may like and then to bring you a variety of angles on the subject. Not only would you find out about the Flint water crisis from CNN, for example, you’d also be shown complementary stories from the AP, NBC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and others.
Commenting is also made easier, as user comments have been moved directly in-line so you can more easily read other people’s reactions to the news.
The way stories appear has also been streamlined. When you open an article, it won’t appear in an individual browser tab, but rather right on the same screen, like an overlay. When you’re done reading it, you can continue to scroll down to get to the next article. The more you interact with the app, the more Yahoo’s system will glean insights into how to personalize the content around you.
This workflow may bear some resemblance to Yahoo News Digest, which integrated technology from the company’s Summly acquisition. Bottoms said that some of the programming comes from the Yahoo News Digest app, but that the updates to the Yahoo homepage differ from Summly. Bottoms talked about what he called a “cascading discovery” experience and stressed that Yahoo’s app isn’t about summarizing the news.
While Yahoo’s homepage and flagship app will reflect this new behavior, don’t expect to see the changes on any of the company’s other properties — at least not yet.