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Yahoo has launched an application to make it easier for people to plan their next trip. Called Yahoo Radar, it brings the company’s search, communication, and content areas together to help you research your destination. With elements that you’d find in Kayak, TripIt, and TripAdvisor, this iOS app pulls from a variety of sources, including your inbox, to curate information about any U.S. city.
Billed as a virtual travel guide assistant, Yahoo Radar adds artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring you the best recommendations for restaurants, activities, and attractions on your trip. As it’s just been released, the first version of the app only lets you do research — you can’t book flights or accommodations or make other reservations, or even deep-link into third-party apps.
To begin using the app, you’ll need a Yahoo account. After authenticating, Radar will scan your Yahoo email inbox for any upcoming trips. If you don’t have any trips planned, you can request that the app send you notifications when a reservation appears in your email. Also, should you have a Gmail, Outlook, Hotmail, or AOL account, you can sync that with your Yahoo account, and Radar will scan it to find any trip details.
Using Yahoo Radar’s interface is similar to sending and receiving text messages with a friend or using a messaging service. You’re able to ask Radar to provide information on sights to see and places to eat, either near you or in any city in the U.S. We asked for top sights in San Francisco, Calif., and within seconds, the app displayed several choices pulled from TripAdvisor. From our review, Radar features content pulled from TripAdvisor and Yelp, although Yahoo vice president of product management Conrad Wai told VentureBeat that additional sources are pulled from Radar’s search engine.
Wai explained that some prioritization takes place to ensure that higher quality sources are surfaced. The recommendations are derived from the company’s machine learning and A.I. and will eventually adapt to learn your preferences. Radar is still in its infancy, and Wai told us: “Not every kink here is worked out.”
Unlike traditional ways of researching trips, Yahoo Radar doesn’t require much textual input. For the most part, you’re pressing buttons to tell the app what you want, especially when you’re digging deeper into the types of restaurants and attractions you want to see. Of note, there is a “See how I picked” feature that shows you why a particular venue, location, or activity is being displayed. This lists things like user ratings, sources, popularity, and reviews.
Although people typically plan out their trips before they leave, with the “mobile revolution” in place, “things are happening on the go,” Wai said. “Instead of planning more beforehand as in previous generations, you’re doing it on-demand now.” But how will Radar stand out in a field inundated with travel apps — including those from Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Google, Expedia, and Airbnb? Wai believes the app’s simplicity could drive traction: “If I can combine some of the 50 tabs I have [when researching trip planning] on-the-go, it would be great. We’re trying to aggregate, distill, and combine information for the user across the web.”
Yahoo Radar is available now only for iOS devices and only for U.S. cities. The company currently doesn’t have plans to work on an Android version, although that might change in the future.
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