Yahoo views its mail service as being something more than standard email — its senior vice president for communications products Jeff Bonforte once described the inbox as “the database to the user.” Our lives reside in this software that tells us when not only someone messages us, but when our next meetings are, and it has become our main address book, replacing the paper version.
On Monday, Yahoo Mail is expanding its functionality across multiple devices, acting as not only as an automatic file sharing service between mobile and desktop, but as the new caller ID on your phone. These two features are available today worldwide, with photo upload support launching on iOS and Android while caller ID starts on iOS.
“With smarter contacts and better photo-sharing, we’re helping users take full advantage of their inbox,” said company vice president for product management Michael Albers. “They’ll never have to guess who’s calling or email themselves a photo again.”
Photo management is a big issue. After you take a picture or video using your phone, to have access on your desktop for post-processing or other needs currently requires some jerry-rigging. With Yahoo Mail, photo sharing is simpler. If you enable the feature, your camera roll will be synced with your account on the desktop, allowing you to search for images using Yahoo’s image recognition technology.
Log into your Yahoo Mail iOS or Android app, select Settings > Photo upload, and then toggle the “Upload photos” feature to begin. Yahoo said that photos are only visible to you and those you share them with; syncing can be disabled and shared photos deleted in Yahoo without affecting your phone’s camera roll.
“Gone are the days of having to upload a photo to the cloud or email it to yourself in order to share it with friends. Now by enabling photo upload, a user’s photos will be available on desktop automatically,” Albers said.
Some might question the usefulness of syncing because if you take a photo on your phone, it’s already easy enough to email it to friends using the Yahoo Mail app. But the email service’s machine learning technology adds context around what you’re looking for. So as you query for something in your inbox, not only will it surface messages, but documents, calendar events, contacts you might have from more than 200 email providers, files from other linked services (which could soon include Flickr and Amazon Cloud — Google Drive and Dropbox are already supported), and now photos from your mobile device.
Recognizing the amount of contact information it holds within its database, Yahoo wants to leverage it for other forms of communication: namely, phone calls. On your iPhone, if you toggle settings to allow Yahoo Mail to integrate with the operating system, when you receive a phone call, the caller ID could be displayed based on information in your email address book.
It’s likely that you have more people in your email address book than the one on your phone — not everyone you interact with makes it to your mobile device. Emails may have more information than a simple phone call too, as people’s signatures often include not only the email address, but phone number and address of the person. So why not sync the data together? This is what Yahoo has done, similar to what you already get with iOS 10 if you use the default mail app.
“We are very excited to be the first mail provider to take advantage of the feature option and deliver it to users. Users have requested ways to export Yahoo contacts to their local address book, but now we take care of the work for them, without cluttering their address book,” Albers told VentureBeat.
He went on to say, “This new Caller ID feature updates automatically, based on people and companies users are actually communicating with, and leverages this contact information to identify incoming calls. It will also update names in a user’s call history or when they dial.”
To enable, go to settings on your iPhone and select Phone > Call blocking and identification. Then toggle the switch for Yahoo Mail.
Caller ID is only available on iOS right now because the Apple operating system offers a “fully developer-supported way to show” the information. There are plans for Yahoo to expand to Android when it’s supported there.