Sunnyvale, California -- After a span of internal struggling, Yahoo on Wednesday finally released several applications for the iPad, including Livestand, a “digital newsstand” it announced in February that was supposed to ship in the first half of the year, which the company described as a “personalized living magazine.”
Yahoo first disclosed plans for Livestand in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But it did not actually arrived in the App Store until today, where it is now available as a free download.
A man navigates through the iPad 2 (AFP/File, Noel Celis)
Livestand assembles together content from third-party publishers across Yahoo's network for a “visually stunning and deeply personalized digital experience customized to each person's interests and passions,” Yahoo said.
The overall app includes: My Library, a collection of publications and topics; Personal Mix, a personalized magazine Yahoo accumulates based on topics and articles you have tagged; Yahoo Today, a new publication exclusive to Livestand with the day's news, sports, TV listings, weather, and more; News for You, personalized headlines updated 24/7; and a Content Guide, a directory of Livestand material organized by topic.
Livestand is introducing with various partners, including ABC News, Bonnier (Parenting), Forbes, and Source Interlink Media (Bike, Powder, Surfer).
“We serve 630 million users who flock to Yahoo on a monthly basis, and we noticed that our users are going more and more mobile,” Cris Pierry, senior director of Yahoo Mobile, said during the February demo. “What Livestand is intended to do is to streamline that transition from the PC to mobile [so they still] have a compelling way to consume content from Yahoo.”
The struggling firm also unleashed IntoNow for the iPad, which allows TV viewers to unearth programs and discuss them with their friends, as well as a Yahoo Mail application for the iPad and a Yahoo Weather application for Android devices. The company also rolled out some impressive new social features for its News site, including empowering people to have group discussions on the site, and notifications that ping users when content they are interested in hits the site.
These announcements were made at an event called Yahoo Product Runway, where company officials also deliberated a number of back-end technologies that are powering the new applications.
Interestingly, while reiterating the catchword that Yahoo is the world's “premier digital company,” Chief Product Officer Blake Irving attempted to divert the focus to the new Yahoo products and away from questions about the struggling company's future.
“I'm more bullish about Yahoo today” than last month or a year ago, he said.
“With all the twiddle out there, the impression is that it must be defocusing,” Irving said during a Product Runway press event at the firm's headquarters in the Silicon Valley city of Sunnyvale.
“There is little confusion,” he added concerning the circumstances at Yahoo!, which has yet to replace its expelled chief executive and is reportedly interested in takeover bids.
“The other noise out there you are talking about at parties or with your friends, but we feel very good about what we are building.”
Product Runway was the principal platform for unveiling new software formulated to deliver video, news, and other Yahoo! “premier digital content” to smartphones, tablets or personal computers in vivid, personal and social ways.
“With hundreds of millions of people depend on Yahoo! every day, yet no two users are alike,” Irving said. “By developing these products on top of our powerful platforms with attractive interactive design, we are getting closer to a truly 'personal Web' for every Yahoo! customer,” he continued.
Asked to comment about the delay in delivering Livestand, Irving defended its development process, saying that it depends on some key back-end technologies Yahoo worked hard to get right, like HTML5.
There is no other tablet application that employs HTML5 with the level of “richness” of Livestand, Irving said.
In addition, Livestand incorporates video, rich pictures, and text in easily navigated presentations in a challenge to popular iPad social magazine application Flipboard.
Yahoo! also unfurled an IntoNow iPad application that enables tablets to analyze audio snippets to estimate what television shows people are watching and then connect them to news, Twitter posts and other related information.
“Pretty much all of us are engaging with multiple devices while watching TV,” said IntoNow chief Adam Cahan.
“Tablets go hand-in-hand with television, they are a gateway to consumption,” he continued.
Another Yahoo! Weather application for Android-powered gadgets allows Flickr users in more than 60 countries create searchable libraries of images showing conditions at different places and times.
“Our mission and scheme are the same as last year at Product Runway,” he continued. That is: “Bring deeply personal digital experiences to people across the world; that is our mission.”