Yahoo launches new weather, email apps in its 'second sprint' of rebuilding

The apps, designed to reduce clutter, are geared toward increasing user engagement on mobile

Yahoo has released two new mobile apps, for weather and email, suggesting the company may be on track toward delivering on its promise of offering users a range of new mobile products over the next several months.

The company, formerly one of Silicon Valley's most esteemed tech players, has been under pressure in recent years to demonstrate its value to users as more people have migrated to mobile devices, social apps and social networks. Yahoo, unlike Google, Apple or Facebook, currently does not have any social network or smartphone of its own.

Yahoo sees itself as being in the "second sprint" of its rebuilding efforts to win back users and increase its revenue, CEO Marissa Mayer said Tuesday during the company's first-quarter earnings call. The first sprint was geared around improving Yahoo's in-house talent, which the company has now accomplished, Mayer said.

The new Weather and Mail apps, announced Thursday, are both designed to provide a clean, visually engaging and intuitive user experience. For instance, a big feature of the Weather app, which is available now for iPhone, iPod and iPod Touch, is the full-screen photos it displays in the background taken in cities near the user's location, which are supplied by users of Yahoo's Flickr photo-sharing service.

Meanwhile, the Mail app, which is available for iPad and Android tablets, is designed to "get rid of the noise," Yahoo said, and instead provide a digital magazine-like interface in which users can flip through emails and delete, star or move messages with a simple swipe.

"We've designed Yahoo Mail to take full advantage of the tablet making reading your email faster, easier and just a little bit more fun," Yahoo said in a blog post.

The archiving and organizational features of the Mail app appear similar to other mobile emailing applications offered by other companies. Palo Alto-based Orchestra, for instance, recently launched Mailbox, an app designed to let users quickly archive messages by swiping, which has been attracting considerable buzz.

Reaction on Twitter to Yahoo's new apps was somewhat mixed. "The new Yahoo mobile weather app is the best looking app with the worst looking home screen icon," one person tweeted.

Nonetheless, Yahoo is already making some progress toward boosting user engagement on mobile. In the first three months of 2013, the number of monthly, mobile active users on Yahoo surpassed 300 million for the first time, Mayer said on Tuesday, up from 200 million reported in January.

The company has also done several mobile acquisitions in recent months, including its purchase of Summly, an information-summarization app, and Alike, a mobile location discovery service.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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