Late last month Yahoo acquired news app Summly for the underlying technology, developed by SRI. It was just the latest in a series of mobile startup acquisitions (mostly for talent) Yahoo has been making.
Today the company rolled out the fruits of the Summly acquisition: a new iOS (iPod Touch, iPhone) flagship app. This follows last week's release of Yahoo Mail for the iPad and a new Yahoo weather app.
The Yahoo blog, in a post by CEO Marissa Mayer, announced the new app this morning:
The new Yahoo! mobile app is also smarter, using Summly’s natural-language algorithms and machine learning to deliver quick story summaries. We acquired Summly less than a month ago, and we’re thrilled to introduce this game-changing technology in our first mobile application. And, with the immersive imagery of our virtually endless newsfeed, the new Yahoo! app has both great technology and beautiful design front and center. Because searching for great content is also core to the Yahoo! experience, we’ve also improved the search experience with better video and image search.
The app offers essentially two views of stories, a kind of list view with thumbnail images (top left) and a more immersive (Summly like) visual view of stories (top row right and below left):
Yahoo enables personalization of news content in the app. If you're signed in each story allows users to select "more" or "less" news about the topic (lower right images). That personalization will also be reflected in the stories presented on the Yahoo PC site. However personalization is far from obvious in the new app and its not clear how many people will notice let alone use it.
The "visual" dimension of the experience is not as engaging or successful as Yahoo's new weather app (images below). However it's quite a bit more challenging to duplicate the experience of the weather app with news content, whose stories and images are constantly changing. In addition the list view of news is kind of flat and uninteresting.
Yahoo is making good progress in updating and mobilizing its user experience under Marissa Mayer. Things are definitely on the right track. However with the new Yahoo flagship/news app it will probably take a few more "iterations" to get things right.