Yahoo may not be the internet giant it once was, but over 110 million people still use its mail services — now, that experience has been upgraded with a new Yahoo Mail web client as well as new apps for iOS, Android and Windows 8. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer introduced the changes herself in a blog post that went out today; she says that Yahoo's new mail client minimized distracting elements and made speed a key focus, something that should be a major improvement over the somewhat bloated service of old. The new mail experience should roll out for web users "over the next few days," while the iOS, Android and Windows 8 apps are available now.
At first glance, the new iOS app (which is optimized for iPhone and iPod touch only; iPad users are out of luck) shares a lot in common with the recently-updated Gmail iOS app as well as many other smartphone mail apps. For example, the Yahoo mail app uses the now-standard list of folders hiding in a pane on the left side of the screen, much like Sparrow, Gmail, Facebook, and numerous other apps. While Yahoo might not get any points for originality, a streamlined and unified solution across multiple platforms should make for a better user experience. Mayer closed her post by saying "this is just the beginning," so hopefully we'll see Yahoo focus on more mail improvements in the coming months.
Yahoo isn't ceding its place in the webmail market without a fight
Update: Yahoo has released a bit more info on what makes its new mail experience such an improvement. For starters, Yahoo claims that the underlying performance for loading the inbox as well as composing and sending emails has been increased — the company estimates it will save all of its users a combined 36 million minutes every day. The new iOS app features push notifications, a constantly-updating list of messages (so there's no need to load when you reach the end of a list), and the ability to easily add photos from the camera roll or shoot new ones through the app to include as attachments.
Yahoo's had an Android app for some time, but it has now been re-written from the ground up — the company says it maximizes performance while reducing battery drain by 20 to 40 percent. It's a visual match for the iOS app and web interface, and also lets users add multiple Yahoo mail accounts. Finally, the Windows 8 client is fully native, with features like live tile support and integration with the Windows 8 search function. While none of these updates are revolutionary, it should certainly help Yahoo keep pace with the recently-launched Outlook.com service as well as Google's always-iterating Gmail juggernaut.