In honor of Yahoo Mail’s 18th birthday, the company is announcing a major update to the mail client. In addition to a new interface, the app is designed to be more intuitive than previous versions.
The update includes new design elements as well as new contact forms with more nuanced information, a more secure inbox, search filters, an undo button, the death of passwords, and the ability to access multiple email clients through the Yahoo Mail app. The updates are rolling out across desktop and mobile starting today.
Perhaps the biggest update is that Yahoo Mail will now let you access email from other account providers through the Yahoo Mail app. Users will now be able to connect mail accounts from Outlook.com, Hotmail, and AOL to Yahoo Mail. But not Gmail, which may be a bummer for a lot of people. Think of this feature as an answer to Apple’s iOS mail client.
With Multiple Mailboxes, users will be able to search across all connected email boxes at once.
An end to passwords
Yahoo vice president of product Dylan Casey said that passwords and even security questions are an antiquated solution for protecting web users.
“We built a system that’s entirely complex, outdated, and doesn’t actually protect the user,” said Casey of the Web’s dominant security protocol.
To rectify that broken authentication system, Yahoo is killing off passwords in its latest release. Through a new feature called Account Key, users can choose to prove their identity by way of a push notification sent to their phone. The notification asks users if they’re trying to log into their account. Pressing “yes” allows access to the account, pressing “no” denies it.
This new feature builds on a product the company release earlier this year called on-demand passwords, a two-factor authentication process wherein Yahoo emails a new password to your phone.
Earlier this year Yahoo announced that it would hook into Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin to help to help flesh out Mail contacts and make them more relevant. This has led to the use of avatars to identify senders.
The avatars are also a security provision. Yahoo Mail only delivers mail from “authorized senders” or those who meet the Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance authentication policy. That means less spam and less malware in your inbox.
Hooking into social sites means more contextual data about your contacts. Yahoo Mail said with this data it can determine whether the person contacting you is a “top contact” and inputs the sender’s other contact details into the main contact card in Yahoo Mail. The contact card also contains information about your email history with that person, as well as stats such as how many emails you’ve exchanged. It also makes recommendations for other people related to your contact, like friends or colleagues. Yahoo senior director of product Fernando Delgado said this feature is especially helpful if you can’t remember where you met someone.
Yahoo Mail’s heavy use of data also helps it to make recommendations on who you should add to an email chain.
An undo button
Yahoo Mail now has an undo button for recovering emails you accidentally deleted. After you delete an email, a button will appear at the bottom of the screen asking if you want to undo your last action. Though a simple addition, it’s a much nicer experience to bring deleted emails back to your inbox with the touch of a button rather than having to dig through your Trash folder. You can undo other actions too, such as if you accidentally move an email to another folder or mark it unread.
Yahoo Mail now has added filters for sifting through emails. The app lets you filter emails based on whether you’re looking for something you sent or received and also lets you search for images and documents. You can even search within a contact card for all the images or documents that a given person has sent you.
The real power of this tool is finding older content, like photos from that trip to Paris you took three years ago. Yahoo Mail also keeps a record of your query history, so if you’ve searched for something before, it will auto-populate the search field as you type it.
iOS and Android
Yahoo made some slight tweaks to the app to optimize it for each operating system. For instance, on Android the Yahoo Mail app uses Google’s Material Design. The Android version lays out emails in a “conversation” format, so multiple email exchanges appear cleaner.
On iOS, when you search from the phone’s search bar for a contact, it will surface relevant Yahoo Mail emails. The company also said there are some special shortcuts for iOS 9, but didn’t go into details.
For the most part the apps offer a mostly similar experience. On both iOS and Android, a swipe left will return you to the screen you were on before, for example.
This is a pretty big update for Yahoo, one that directly challenges Google’s Mail client. Yahoo is trying to make its email client increasingly relevant to users by incorporating news feeds and social data, hopefully drawing users away from Google. Last year the company rolled out travel and event notifications, in which Yahoo Mail pulls relevant details from your email to let you know you’re supposed to be somewhere.
All this to say, it’s clear Yahoo is trying to find more ways to keep its customers within its own ecosystem.