Back in the Game

Yahoo! is once more a force to reckon with,thanks to much-needed revamps of Flickr,Mail and Weather

Written by Pranay Parab | New Delhi | Published: June 30, 2013 4:58 am

Yahoo! is once more a force to reckon with,thanks to much-needed revamps of Flickr,Mail and Weather

The meteoric rise of Google has affected many companies over the years,none more than Yahoo!. The company dominanted email services in India,and Yahoo! Messenger was the most popular chat host,until Google showed up and outshone them in both fields. Google is known to enter saturated markets,such as maps,browser,email,etc,only to provide a service far superior to the competition,often leading to mass migration. Yahoo! products lost a large portion of their market share because competing services were better and Yahoo! was slow to catch up. A good example of this is Flickr. Despite being extremely popular among photographers and enthusiasts,the service lost ground by failing to effectively tap the smartphone market. All that is changing now.

Today,almost a year after Yahoo! appointed former Google executive Marissa Mayer as president,Yahoo! looks like a streamlined company that has cut out deadwood and is focussing on improving key services. Yahoo! Weather is now among the best weather apps,Flickr gives users 1 TB (1,000 GB!) of storage for free,and Yahoo! Mail has also been improved.


Flickr is among the few services that lets users upload pictures in full resolution. While users with DSLR cameras used to account for a large number of pictures on Flickr,ever since the service was revamped,Yahoo! says the numbers have tilted towards smartphones. Now,iPhone 4S and 5 users upload most pictures on Flickr,followed by Android users. Excellent iOS and Android apps have helped Flickr’s cause,but those are dwarfed by storage enhancements. Free users now get 1 terabyte (with ads) and the ad-free version costs roughly Rs 3,000 per year. Yahoo! charges Rs 30,000 a year for an additional 1 TB storage,but few users will ever want more than 1 TB,which is enough for nearly 4.5 lakh photos taken on an 8-megapixel camera. Flickr has also revamped the layout of its website to remove white spaces and fill it with pictures. Hari Vasudev,VP and head,Yahoo! India,says,“With Flickr,the focus is on photos. When you open the website,you won’t be able to stop looking at the photos.”

Things are looking up for the service,as iOS 7,the upcoming version of the operating system for iPhones and iPads,features inbuilt Flickr integration. This means iOS users can easily upload and share pictures on Flickr.

Weather and Mail

While everyone wanted Yahoo! to improve Flickr and Mail,almost no one expected an overhaul of the company’s weather app. While most apps show users a lot of numbers,Yahoo! Weather makes you see the prevailing weather conditions. The app picks up a picture from Flickr to show the current weather,and displays the forecast on that picture. There is a different picture for morning,afternoon,evening and night. But regular users have complained that Yahoo! Weather does not seem to have enough pictures. For example,during summer in New Delhi,the same pictures were displayed through the week. Yahoo! needs to frequently refresh pictures so that the app retains its freshness. Another complaint is that the app is much better on iOS than on Android. But these are minor issues,and can be easily addressed.

Yahoo! Mail apps on Android and iOS have also been revamped and the user experience has improved on the Web. Emails take up most of the screen space,and extra elements have been removed. The iOS app gives users a full-screen reading experience. “You can flip through your emails like a book or a magazine,” Vasudev says.

Users can link Dropbox accounts to Yahoo! Mail and large attachments will automatically be uploaded to Dropbox. There are a few useful addons available as well. One of them is Unsubscriber,which lets users easily unsubscribe from annoying newsletters. Just drag one email to the unsubscribe folder and mails from that sender won’t appear in the inbox again.

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