Yahoo Mail Gets a Face(book) Lift

Dennis Faas's picture

Yahoo email users can look forward to great new features in the next year as the company fights for its share of Internet messaging. By adding new features that will either imitate or link to existing social networks, Yahoo hopes to provide users with an experience that will make email more applicable as a social networking tool. (Source:

Yahoo's plans for the new features were unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas earlier this month. As the most popular web-based email service, Yahoo upgrades will benefit over two hundred million users. (Source:

In the constant battle to attract and retain users, Yahoo's upgrades are a timely strategy. Just last year Google upgraded their Gmail storage space to a full 1 GB. With two hundred million users at stake, Yahoo is anxious to keep their services up to date. (Source:

The new Yahoo mail software will analyze contacts imported from other applications such as Facebook or Myspace, and group them according to relationships and the frequency of contact. As messages are received in the user's inbox, the new mail software will also recognize conversation threads and group related messages accordingly. According to Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang, the new software will be "smart enough to figure out that those emails belong in a [certain] thread." (Source:

The abilities to group contacts and filter spam are great additions to any mail service, but the really exciting features are those that go above and beyond what is currently available on popular social networks.

In the CES demonstration, Yang showed how the new features could be used to help users plan social events. Conversation threads containing key words can be cross-referenced with the Yahoo Maps application simply by dragging the key words from the inbox to the maps icon. The Yahoo software will then suggest a list of locations for the event, and rank them according to preferences that had previously been submitted by the contacts involved in the conversation thread. (Source:

Third party developers will also have a place in the new Yahoo inbox in the same way that Facebook and Myspace allow users to add external applications. Companies such as Evite, an online party and event planning company, will further enhance the social networking abilities for the new Yahoo platform by allowing users to instantly send online invitations to contacts identified from the conversation threads. (Source:

Social functions seem to be the primary benefit of the new Yahoo mail features, but users will also benefit from increased functionality and ease of use. The new Yahoo mail will look similar to existing desktop mail applications, and will include a preview pane where the user can review email content before opening. Keyboard shortcuts will enable rapid viewing and deletion of mail, and a scroll function will allow users to view all messages in a folder without the need to constantly advance to the next page.

Finally, the adoption of AJAX (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) techniques will make the new Yahoo platform much more functional and user-friendly by eliminating the need for constant webpage reloading. (Source:

Yahoo mail users will have to be patient, as the company is just finalizing its last phase of beta testing. Yahoo has indicated that the new systems will not be put in place overnight, but that select features may be added gradually in the next few months. (Source:

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