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Archive for January, 2008

Single Ajax Interface For Yahoo Mail & IM Coming

This morning Yahoo will announce that they will integrate an Ajax version of Yahoo Instant Messaging directly into the new Yahoo Mail beta. Unlike Google’s integration of Google Talk with Gmail earlier this year, Yahoo is combining the products into a single interface. Yahoo says the new features will launch in the next two months.I saw a beta of the product earlier today at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. When addressing a new email, a pop-up window appears to select an address book suggestion, along with the option to send an instant message if the person is currently online. If the user selects an instant message instead of an email, a slightly different interface appears that allows the two users to send instant messages to each other. If one user drops out of the conversation, the other user has the option to auto-paste the conversation into an email and finish the conversation. See the screen shot below for a visual of how the product will appear. This is all done in the browser with Ajax.

Users will quickly get used to flipping quickly between email and IM depending on “presence” – whether or not the person they are communicating with is online. IM conversations will eventually be archived and stored in the same manner as emails, allowing users to drag old conversations into folders in the sidebar.

An additional notation is also being made in the sidebar to let email users know which of their stored contacts are online currently. Multiple current IM conversations are organized by horizontal tabs.

Yahoo Mail continues to surge in worldwide and U.S. usage v. Gmail – Yahoo claims that Yahoo Mail gained more new U.S. users that in the first nine months of 2006 than total U.S. Gmail users to date. Comscore backs this claim up, reporting 250 million worldwise users of Yahoo Mail to Google’s 51 million (September 2006) (see chart to left).

The number of IM users worldwide is still very small compared to web-based email users – 80 million IM users v. nearly 500 million web mail users. Yahoo hopes to introduce IM to the large percentage of Yahoo webmail users who’ve never tried IM.

We continue to prefer Yahoo Mail over Gmail because Yahoo Mail allows POP access to third party email services, whereas Gmail only allows access to Google’s own email service.

Categories: Ajax, News, Open Source, yahoo

My Yahoo! Gets Web 2.0 Makeover


Hot on the heels of My.Netscape’s personalized homepage makeover, Yahoo has announced a new version of its own long-running personalized homepage, My Yahoo. It will at first be a private beta, with a limited number of users being offered a beta account at http://cm.my.yahoo.com/upgrade. Yahoo’s plan is to gather feedback from those early users and then make the My Yahoo! beta more broadly available – with additional features – over the coming months.

Read/WriteWeb got a sneak peak at the beta and we have some screenshots, along with our initial impressions, below. There is also a screencast available (but for now it is high res and slow to load; I’ll notify you when a better version is up).

My Yahoo! has been Yahoo’s personalized offering to its consumers since 1996. In the preview, Yahoo told me that My Yahoo! is seen as their “narrowcast” option for users, while the yahoo.com frontpage is seen as the broadcast model. However I was also told that, over time, the two homepages will converge. Certainly, the first thing I noticed about the new beta My Yahoo was that it had some of the new features Yahoo introduced last year with its Ajax makeover of yahoo.com. And the look and feel is very similar between the two.

My Yahoo! is essentially a user’s dashboard, or start page, for the web. So it shares a lot in common with Microsoft’s Live.com, Google’s Personalized Homepage, Netvibes, Pageflakes, Webwag, and many others. However up till now, My Yahoo has been a relatively static personalized homepage – mostly devoid of the widgets and gadgets that populate the likes of Netvibes and Live.com. Also the design was rather conservative, although to be fair probably much more usable than the other ‘start pages’. Also, My Yahoo was an early adopter of RSS feeds (not full text though).

All in all, Yahoo has managed to keep its many millions of mainstream users happy – but with the trade off of falling behind Microsoft and Google in terms of widgets and ajax interactivity. Indeed we’ve noted a few times before that My Yahoo has plenty of potential as a ‘web 2.0’ start page – and thankfully now we’re starting to see that potential being fulfilled, which is good news for Yahoo’s user base.

New Features

The beta My Yahoo has a fresh new design and some neat interactive features (using ajax of course!). It also aims to make personalization simpler. Some of the new beta features include tools for:

  • pre-built personalized page for each user, based on data Yahoo has already gleaned from their usage of Yahoo properties – the design of the page is closely aligned with yahoo.com;
  • Category pages for topics such as cooking, plus “content suggestions”;
  • Users can further customize their page with drag-and-drop modules, and new four-column and small search box layouts;
  • Feed previews and a full post reader on the page;
  • Editable Personal Assistant with instant access to things like Yahoo! Mail, horoscopes, local traffic, etc;
  • Redesigned modules from Yahoo! and select partners, with games, music, commerce, sports updates, weather, finance portfolios, TV listings, etc;
  • Sharing feature, enabling users to send their My Yahoo! page or favorite modules to friends and family – note, this is very similar to Pageflakes’ sharing feature, only Yahoo told me that their sharing service doesn’t require sign-ups;
  • More “new interactive modules” to come

Also noteworthy is the “hover bubble” (an unofficial term for an ajax-based text bubble). My favorite new feature so far is the MyYahoo Reader, which offers full text (yay!). Both of these features aim to give the consumer more content in the page, without navigating away.

What’s not there currently? Widgets, but Yahoo told me that over time Yahoo! Widgets (aka Konfabulator) will be integrated with My Yahoo.

Conclusion

digg_url = ‘http://www.digg.com/tech_news/My_Yahoo_Gets_Web_2_0_Makeover’; As you can see from the screenshots below, the new beta My Yahoo is much easier on the eye than the current My Yahoo. It is very slick and easy to use too. My Yahoo currently gets 50 million monthly users worldwide (their figure) and so it is the biggest “personalized homepage” on the market. As such it is careful about rolling out new ajax and web 2.0 features – in order to avoid the Netscape.com or USAToday re-design backlash from users. Yahoo also says it received “a fundamental United States patent for the invention of personalized start pages” back in 1999, although who knows what that means.

The new My Yahoo is a great improvement already on the old one and we’ll be tracking its progress over the coming months, as it is slowly released to the mass market.

Update: Ex-My Yahoo Boss, Now Pageflakes CEO, Responds to My Yahoo Beta


My Yahoo Reader


Customize colors, columns, etc


Similarities to yahoo.com


Add Content


Sharing

Categories: News, Open Source, yahoo Tags: , ,

Yahoo! Shortcuts WordPress Plugin Features Overview

I have just installed the Yahoo! Shortcuts WordPress Plugin to my blog, and I will use this post to demonstrate what it does. First, the installation was straight forward, no different than installing any other plugin in WordPress. Once you activate the plugin you will find it when you write or edit your pages or posts in the upper right corner. It searches for possible matches while you type, letting you know how many matches it has found.

The plugin automatically integrates a variety of APIs to your blog, including maps, stock charts, product reviews and photos.

Follow the Jump for the complete list of APIs and at least one example of each.

  • Flickr Photos – Get Creative Commons Photos related to your content for your blog posts, automatically. I looked for photos about the Battle of Manassas from the civil war, and a ton of photos came up. I picked one of the stone house used as a hospital during the battle (I live in the area).
  • Yahoo Maps – Anytime an address shows up on your page, you can link to or embed a Yahoo! Map, showing that location. For example, I live in Manassas, Virginia. Other popular locations like the Washington Monument may show up as well.
  • Yahoo! Financial – Get stock quotes, chart and company overviews, again, in a link or embedded into your post. Comcast is my internet provider…as you can see, it provides a link to a stock chart, I can also embed it directly into my post.
  • Products – Type a product name and let Yahoo find reviews and places to buy the product. Looking for an Xbox 360 or a Nintendo Wii? Look no further.
  • Autos – Get information on cars and trucks, like the Toyota Prius or the Nissan Rogue . (Those 2 are for you, Michelle!)
  • Current News – Blogging about Barak Obama? Well, when you type his name, Yahoo! Shortcuts finds recent news and photos about him, automatically.
  • Web Search – Allows you to link to a Yahoo! web search on key terms in your blog. Search for Yahoo Shortcuts! or Google AdWords by clicking on the link.

You can choose what content you want to display. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, the dashed-blue-underline represents the Yahoo! Shortcut.

There is the obvious fact that you are sending traffic to Yahoo! without getting paid. I don’t really like that aspect so much. This will limit it’s use on this blog.

I think the coolest and most useful feature has to be the Flickr photos API. Finding free photos fast that relate to your content is a pretty sweet feature. I think this is a good enough reason for me to keep the plugin enabled on my blog.

Categories: News, yahoo

Yahoo! Launches Go 3.0 Beta, New Open Mobile Widget Platform and New Mobile Homepage

Yahoo! Launches Go 3.0 Beta

Yahoo! is announcing today the Yahoo Go! 3.0 beta featuring an enhanced user interface, access to third-party widgets from major publishers, click-to-call capability in the ads displayed from Yahoo!’s major global advertisers.

Yahoo! is also launching an open platform that allows developers to create mobile widgets that will be available from various locations including including Yahoo! Go 3.0 and Yahoo!’s new mobile homepage. Third-party Widget launch partners include, eBay, MySpace and MTVand the SDK for developers will be available in the coming weeks.

Yahoo! completely redesigned the interface of its Mobile Homepage, now users can customize the content according to their needs and location using Snippets. Snippets are extensions of mobile widgets and can be used to launch a full-featured widget built on Yahoo!’s Mobile Widget Platform. For the moment it will be available only on high end mobile browsers such as the Apple iPhone, several Nokia Series 60 devices, including the N95, and select Windows Mobile devices. It will be available for more devices soon.

Launch of the YOOtools

YOOtheme is pleased to announce the launch of the YOOtools Web 2.0 Joomla extensions. In addition to the YOOtheme templates YOOtools is dedicated to bring you premium Joomla components, modules and plugins to enhance your website experience! All YOOtools extensions come with some amazing features.

* Include their own exclusive stylings right out of the box
* Can be used with YOOtheme templates or any other template
* Come as native versions for Joomla 1.0 and Joomla 1.5
* Any other Joomla! Modules can be loaded inside a YOOtools module. This exclusive new YOOtools feature makes any module combination possible. For example you can show the latest news, a random product or login inside any YOOtools module. Think about it!

Here is a quick overview of our current Joomla extension lineup: YOOcarousel, YOOaccordion, YOOslider, YOOdrawer, YOOtoppanel, YOOlogin, YOOsnapshots

YOOtools is an exclusive service for YOOtheme members-only. A membership gives access to all YOOtheme templates and YOOtools extensions. So jump on and join the YOOtheme club today.

Categories: Joomla, News, Resource, yahoo

Web 2.0: Sports Sites Get Social

With football season heading into the final sprint and basketball season warming up, sports fans are heading online in droves to catch the latest news, analysis, opinions while certainly not shying away from wanting to express their own opinions. Fans can always browse to traditional popular sports destinations such as ESPN.com or SI.com, but let’s review what new innovations from the Web 2.0 movement such as social networking and social news has brought to the world of sports news. We’re going to take a look at several sites incorporating more social features while trying to immerse you into their sports community.
Fannation.comFanNation
FanNation is the biggest social sports site around, probably due in a large part to their relationship with SI.com and the prominent billing they have there. Unlike some of the other sites that follow the Digg-inspired user submission of news, FanNation aggregates news itself by pulling in content from sources around the web for the major sports including football, baseball, basketball, and hockey. News is broken down into three types. The most prominent type is the “Truth & Rumors” section, the sports world’s gossip column where you can also get the standard news from “NewsScout” as well as news affecting fantasy sports. Members of the FanNation community can rate the articles and provide their commentary. Members can also track their favorite teams (TeamTracker) and players (PlayerTracker) and have the news relating to those topics delivered to them automatically. FanNation provides the traditional message boards throughout the site and some newer social networking features like friends, user profiles, private messaging, blogging, and groups.
The FanNation aggregation is impressive. I’ve been a frequent visitor of the site for a while now and I hadn’t even realized until recently that you couldn’t submit news yourself. The content is usually always fresh and interesting and the discussions are very active (this is sports news though; I don’t make any claim for the intelligence and maturity of the discussions). One thing lacking were news feeds. You will have to come to their site to get all of this content (except for a member’s blog), a very web 1.0 way of providing content. There’s also a lack of transparency about how news gets to the top, the ratings aren’t very helpful (no rating count for example), and there’s very little information about where exactly the news comes from, in other words, it doesn’t feel very user-driven.
Ballhype.comBallHype
BallHype is the newest site reviewed here, launching this past spring, and it has been a great addition to the field. Like FanNation, BallHype is an aggregator, but BallHype is pulling from all of the top sports blogs on the web, rather than more traditional news sources. BallHype also provides the capability for user submitted stories to be added into the mix. Members of BallHype vote stories up or down by “Hyping” them, which determine which stories make the front page. Members can also take part in a discussion by leaving comments. BallHype slices up the news in many different ways, as you can see from their site map. You can get news by sport, team, player, and city. What’s great about this too is that any way you view the news by, you can get a feed of that. So, for example if I want to keep up with the latest sports news from Seattle, I can visit http://ballhype.com/locale/seattle/ and see news across all sports and subscribe to the RSS feed to get new news delivered to my feed reader (such as Google Reader or Bloglines).
Again we see the social networking features on BallHype with friends, profiles, and groups. When viewing a user’s profile you can see all of their submissions, comments and voting activity and they provide a ranking system for the top users. In addition to news and social networking, BallHype incorporates game scores and picking into the site, you can get all the latest scores and try to predict the outcome of games. Members can comment on the game itself too from the scoreboard, which is a cool feature, though doesn’t appear to be used much. The game picking is an interesting and probably effective way to get users more involved.
I really liked the flexibility of getting news on BallHype and the user-driven power of the site. One downside is with the focus of the content on blogs; you will have to go elsewhere for the standard news headlines. But if you’re a sports nut reading blogs, BallHype does save you an awful lot of work in finding, subscribing to and reading the interesting blogs out there.
Yardbarker.comYardbarker
Yardbarker is one of the three sites in this guide (the others being ArmchairGM and FanIQ) that helped to pioneer social sports in early 2006. Yardbarker’s mission is to provide the latest articles, rumors, videos, discussions, scores, standings and more. Yardbarker is completely user-driven. All content is submitted by members and then voted on and discussed to find the most interesting news.
Like FanNation and BallHype, news is easily broken town by sport and team to let you focus in if you want to. As a member you can submit and rate news, get scores, make friends, but you can’t provide your own original content like on FanNation or BallHype. However, Yardbarker does have some professional athletes writing their official blogs on YardBarker. Greg Oden, the #1 pick in this year’s NBA draft has his blog here.
Yardbarker is utilizing the proven social news methods to push sports news and discussions forward. It’s a nice site that any sports fan would love, and if you’re really into sharing sports new, then this could be a great site for you.
FanIQ.comFanIQ
FanIQ puts its twist on social sports by encouraging its members to compile the best statistics, just as athletes do. Points are earned throughout the site by contributing news, writing a blog, and picking game winners. In that sense it’s probably most similar to BallHype, but has a lot in common with YardBarker and FanNation as well. The heart of FanIQ is the “Sports Scoop”, user submitted news from around the web. Once again, users vote and comment on the stories as they come in. FanIQ has social networking too, but their profile pages are probably the most comprehensive allowing members to share all kinds of information about their favorite sports teams and athletes in addition to information about their FanIQ contributions. One new thing that FanIQ does is provide a personality test, known as the “FanMatch” to find similar people.
The emphasis FanIQ puts on the user is great to see. Everywhere you go, you’re encouraged to meet other members, whether it’s the profile pages, highlighting the volunteers on the site, meeting other people that are fans of the same teams you are, and even pointing out people that are not like you (rivals). It has a great community feel to it. Unfortunately, I think the news content falls flat and is not as fresh and interesting as the others.
ArmchairGM.comArmchairGM
ArmchairGM, while still focused on providing fans a platform for reading, writing, and talking about sports, takes a different approach by providing a bliki, or combination community blog and wiki in addition to the familiar social network. The latest news, blog posts, and rumors from around the web are not the focus here. Instead, users are encouraged to write their own articles or edit the massive sports encyclopedia. The articles are the community blog where members write, vote on, and comment on whatever sports topic they’d like to discuss. Topics are filtered by sport and team and it is easy to find an area of interest. For the more permanent reference, members can contribute to the Encyclopedia, which is similar in theory to Wikipedia (and in fact ArmchairGM is owned by Wikia, the for profit sister company of Wikipedia), but with a complete sports focus, by adding or editing pages. There are number of other features on the site that keep users involved, such as polls, game picks, a great images collection, quizzes, and ratings. The ratings features is an interesting twist, it lets you rate anything and everything related to sports. Michael Jordan reigns supreme as the top rated athlete, while the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” is the top rated moment in sports history (see ratings here).
For a sports fan, ArmchairGM is a goldmine of fun and interesting information that can provide hours of entertainment as you browse around. The nature of the site makes it one that you’ll come back to every once in a while (to reference the encyclopedia perhaps), but unless you dive into the community and start writing articles or want to contribute to the encyclopedia, there’s not a lot to keep you coming back on a more frequent basis. More simply put, it’s as addictive as the other sites mentioned here.

Categories: Open Source, Resource, Web 2.0

Web 2.0 On New .mobi Site

The recently launched mobile phone news service, Cell Phone News 2.0, now has a mobile version, allowing users to keep up to date on their cell phones.

The mobile version carries over most of the features of the main site, and is among the first mobile sites to use Web 2.0 features on a .mobi site.

“Although the Digg-style voting system uses Web 2.0, the latest generation of cell phones can support this” claimed Anthony Butcher, the site’s founder. “Cell Phone News 2.0 readers are amongst the most technologically up-to-date users in the world, so I have no doubt that they can take full advantage of the Web 2.0 features. In the coming months, we are going to see more and more mobile sites using the increasingly advanced features of mobile browsers.”

“At the moment it seems as if mobile site designers assume that they can only use a bit of text and a few links, but that will soon change I hope. This is where the future of the Internet lies, so I hope that web designers start to become more innovative”.

http://www.CellPhoneNews2.mobi

Categories: News, Resource, Web 2.0