Internet giant Yahoo is rolling out a new version of Yahoo Mail to its 284 million users in the next few weeks, hoping to make Yahoo Mail the central hub of their online and social lives by integrating a raft of new social features, improved security, and mobile access, along with cloud-based technology that Yahoo says makes the service up to two times faster. The changes include a major facelift for the familiar service, and the company hopes the new social and sharing capabilities will help Yahoo Mail keep its edge over Gmail in terms of overall number of users.
Chief among Yahoo Mail’s new features is the ability to tap into user’s existing social networks like Facebook and Twitter: users can immediately respond to Facebook messages as well as view and share notices from the likes of Twitter, and Zynga within a new Updates tab. Yahoo Mail also doesn’t limit conversations just to email: the system tries to prioritize contacts and messages that matter to users most, whether they’re via instant messaging, SMS, or email, messages from most-frequent contacts get pushed to the top. Users can also chat with Facebook contacts right alongside Windows Live and Yahoo Messenger contacts, and tap into archives IM conversations right within Yahoo Mail.
Yahoo says it has revamped its email search to more precisely locate what users want when they look through their email, and users can view photo slideshows, inline videos, and other enclosures right within their inboxes. Yahoo says its new Advanced SpamGuard and anti-phishing technologies have reduced spam by 60 percent, and even helps block unwanted IM conversations—Yahoo says it now blocks more than half a trillion spam messages a month. Yahoo also says new cloud technology makes the new Yahoo Mail up to two times faster than the existing version, despite the overhead of all the new capabilities.
Yahoo began testing the new mail technologies seven months ago, but has finally deemed them ready to be rolled out to their broad user base. Yahoo remains a huge player in the Web-based mail market, with some 284 million users worldwide compared to Gmail’s 220 million or so users—although Microsoft’s Hotmail remains the champion with over 320 million users. Email users are considered premium customers for Internet companies, because they tend to access services frequently and stay logged in to services for an extended period of time: this not only provides more opportunities to serve up advertisements to users, but also get more precious profile information about users likes, dislikes, and online activity.
The Yahoo Mail update should roll out gradually to users over the coming weeks, but users who want to jump on board now can upgrade their accounts at overview.mail.yahoo.com.