Intelligence Behind the Screen: Yahoo Smart TV

by Ron Jacoby, VP Smart TV

At CES this week, we’re excited to introduce Yahoo Smart TV, the next evolution of Yahoo’s Connected TV platform, which is used in millions of households today.

With all the choices available on your TV today from traditional channels, to Video On Demand, to Web video such as Yahoo Screen, finding what to watch is harder than ever. I’ve always wanted to come home and simply flip on the TV to find shows that are automatically suggested based on my previous viewing tastes and availability.

With Yahoo’s Smart TV platform, it’s just that easy.

  • Yahoo Smart Guide scans thousands of program options and learns from your viewing habits to recommend content that’s personalized just for you. The recommendations include a combination of shows that are about to start, interesting in-progress content like a football game, Video On Demand content and the Web.

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  • Yahoo Smart Info automatically surfaces content related to the show you’re watching - such as live updates on your fantasy team during the game. And, we’re working with entertainment partners like FOX to give you new ways to get inside your favorite TV shows with relevant downloads and bonus content. Commercials are also made smarter, so it’s easy to track your FedEx package when you see the TV ad, or take advantage of a special offer.

We’re excited to bring together our automatic content recognition, personalization and TV platform to offer the perfect living room companion.

We’re Cooking Up Something Great: Introducing Yahoo Food and Yahoo Tech

By Mike Kerns, SVP Homepages and Verticals

Yahoo is pioneering a new way to enjoy digital content — inspired by visually driven storytelling; anchored by distinctive editorial voices and category tastemakers; and centered on our readers’ daily passions.

Today, we’re excited to unveil Yahoo Food and  Yahoo Tech. Like your favorite glossy magazine for the digital world, Yahoo Food and Yahoo Tech marry the elegant design and bold imagery of traditional magazines with immersive bite-sized stories, engaging videos, and stunning photos curated from Flickr and across the web.

The new sites are designed with phones and tablets in mind, but even on a computer screen these magazines offer a fresh design: gorgeous photographic tiles that represent the various stories. When you click a tile, it smoothly expands in place so that you can read the article; you never have to deal with browser tabs, multiple windows, or the Back button. When you reach the end of that article, you can collapse it again, or just click another tile to read some more good stuff.

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With Yahoo Food, you can pore over photos, surprising and sophisticated recipes, stories on the top food trends, the best cooking tools, new techniques, and everything you need to feel inspired. We have brought together an all-star team of editors, including Managing Editor Sarah McColl; former Bon Appetit senior web editor, Julia Bainbridge; Rachel Tepper who joined from Huffington Post Food; and Alex Van Buren, who has written for Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and Martha Stewart Living. We’re also partnering with some of the best publishers in the business to bring you their expertise and ideas, including Bon Appetit, Epicurious, Food52, Martha Stewart and more.

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There are plenty of technology sites for self-described geeks  and corporate techies, but so far, the Web leaves normal folks in the technological dark. Yahoo Tech is the answer. Led by best-selling author, Emmy-winning TV host, and columnist David Pogue, Yahoo Tech is for people who want machines that work well, feel right, and don’t cost too much—but who don’t care about version numbers, chip names, and bus speeds.  Our writers – an impressive team of renowned columnists, award-winning journalists, authors, TV and radio personalities, and tech experts – are among the finest, funniest tech writers on the planet. They include Yahoo Tech’s five daily anchor columnists David Pogue (New York Times, CBS News, NPR), Rob Pegoraro (USA Today, Washington Post), Dan Tynan (Newsweek, Popular Science, Family Circle), Rob Walker (New York Times, Slate), and Deb Amlen (New York Times, others); editor Jason Gilbert (New York Times, Huffington Post), editorial director Rafe Needleman (CNET, others), and Daniel  Bean (ABC News, CBS); Alyssa Bereznak (Vanity Fair, Gizmodo), and Brian Heater (Engadget, PC Magazine) writing how-to’s, reviews, and news; and games coverage by Ben Silverman (Yahoo Games, others). With features like Pogue’s Inbox, What to Buy Now, Unsung Features, Daily Meditations, and exclusive Kickstarter Reviews, this dream team covers not just what to buy, but also how to use it—and how to maintain your privacy, your money, and your sanity in the process.

Because we fundamentally believe that advertising should be just as engaging as the content itself, Yahoo Food and Yahoo Tech offer seamless, native advertising — that is, articles, videos, and tips that are just as engaging as the stories around them. They’re clearly marked as sponsored stories.

So make a grilled cheese sandwich, grab your favorite touchscreen gadget, and dig in.  And stay tuned, because there is much more to come!

Yahoo News Digest: Get In The Know In No Time

by Nick D’Aloisio, Product Manager, Mobile and Emerging Products

With the introduction of mobile devices, plenty of things have changed. The way we find, consume and share news has evolved. As things become more complex in nature, news consumption has become overwhelming.  That’s why today, we’re excited to introduce Yahoo News Digest for iPhone and iPod touch.

Yahoo News Digest delivers the most important news twice a day, right to your mobile device. Our Digests provide a definitive summary of all the need-to-know news so you can stay on top of what’s happening.

Remember waking up to the local morning news? Coming home to the evening news? Reading a newspaper from front to back page? These formats have been daily habits since the invention of the television and the printing press. We wanted Yahoo News Digest to revisit a content format that when read, led you to a sense of completion and conclusiveness, much like reading the newspaper did.

With Summly, we learned that people don’t necessarily have the time to read a lengthy article, especially when they have limited screen real-estate while they’re on the go. By giving powerful algorithmic summaries, we found that people were willing to consume more content when it was boiled down to the most important bits.

We’ve taken summarization to the next level with News Digest, by algorithmically and editorially selecting the important articles and using multi-document summarization to identify the key ‘bits and pieces of information’. We’ve named these bits and pieces “Atoms.”  Our Atoms assembled from around the web include articles, maps, infographics, Wikipedia extracts, videos, photos and more. Stories contain different atomic units which convey different dimensions of the story from the who, what, when, how, and why of a topic.

Once you’ve gotten through all the key stories you’ve “completed the digest” and caught up with the most important news of the day.

Our goal with the Yahoo News Digest is to make sure you’re always in the know. We hope you’ll enjoy it.

Yahoo News Digest makes your news reading experience simplified, effortless, comprehensive, and complete.  Download the app today and get in the know in no time.

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Aviate now @ Yahoo

by Adam Cahan, SVP Mobile and Emerging Products

Today, at CES, we announced the acquisition of Aviate, a company that shares our vision for simple and intelligent mobile experiences. The Aviate team has created a product that changes the way users interact with their Android devices by connecting them to information at the moment it’s useful.  We’re thrilled to share what they’ve built and extend it to our users.

We hope to make Aviate a central part of our Android-based experiences in 2014 (and beyond), and we are committed to continued innovation on the product.

What we saw… The average person has screens and screens of apps on their mobile phones, with only a handful of those being used daily. Yet we spend our time swiping from screen to screen, hunting, loading, seeking information; our homescreen (launcher) experiences are far from smart. Think about the repetitive nature of getting in your car every day and launching the same apps, or arriving home and yet the same screens are there. We know there’s a better user experience.

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We envision homescreens becoming smarter, more personalized, aware of your context. Aviate helps us bring this vision to life. Aviate auto-categorizes apps on your Android phone and intelligently gathers them into “spaces.”  By using signals to understand your context - WIFI, GPS, Accelerometer, Time, etc - Aviate automatically surfaces information at the moment it’s useful. So whether you’re just waking up, driving, at work, or maybe out for the night, Aviate learns your habits and helps anticipate the information and apps you need - making your phone smarter.

At Yahoo, we want to make everyone’s daily habits more inspiring and entertaining through beautiful, personalized, and innovative products. Aviate fits perfectly with our team and vision. We are excited to welcome Mark, Paul, Will, and the team to Yahoo.

Aviate is still currently in private beta, but we’re opening it up to the first 25,000 people who use code “YAHOO” to celebrate the news.

We’re just getting started, lots more to share in the coming months, so stay tuned.

What Happens in Vegas Gets Live Streamed on Yahoo

Greeting from Las Vegas! We’re setting up at the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show now and we can’t wait to showcase how Yahoo is making the world’s daily digital habits inspiring and entertaining. We hope you’ll swing by our booth to check out some of Yahoo’s newest products — we’ll be in the Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention and World Trade Center, Booth #14038.

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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer will give a keynote address as part of the Tech Titans series on Tuesday, January 7 at 1:00 pm PT in the Las Vegas Hotel theater. Join us at the theater, or watch the keynote live on Yahoo Screen: http://screen.yahoo.com/ces-2014/

by John Buchanan, VP, Marketing

Yahoo and NBC Olympics Extend Digital Alliance to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games

With the XXII Olympic Winter Games from Sochi peeking at us from around the corner, we are proud to announce an extension of our existing digital alliance with NBC Sports.  At Yahoo we love the Olympics - new heroes, amazing stories, and memorable moments can rise up in the blink an eye and last in Olympics lore forever - and we love to bring you closer to those athletes, moments and stories.  And now working together with NBC Sports, we can do even more to bring the Games to life for you.

The alliance focuses on access for Yahoo’s audience to all of NBCOlympics.com’s exclusive digital video rights, including live competition streams and highlights, the creation of a digital Olympics daily show, and the showcase of Yahoo products through NBC’s digital and broadcast coverage of the Games.

Bringing together Yahoo and NBC Olympics for the XXII Winter Games will give fans a deep and rich experience around one of the premier sports events in the world.  For the first time, our audience can watch everything unfold on the live and on-demand NBC Olympics experience from Yahoo.

As part of the agreement, Yahoo Sports experts will work alongside with NBC Sports and contribute Olympic news and analysis for digital segments that will be promoted to both NBCOlympics.com and Yahoo users.  In addition, NBC Olympics and Yahoo will integrate Yahoo content and products into NBC’s broadcast of the Games - such as Yahoo Search, Flickr and Tumblr - to tap into the pulse of the American Olympic fan during the Sochi Games.

This exclusive Olympics-focused arrangement is yet another step in our one-year old relationship that has included collaboration around premium sports news and events coverage, online and on-air; creation of original, short form video programming as well as cross-promotion of popular Yahoo Sports’ products, including Yahoo Sports Fantasy and Rivals.com.

That’s it for now, but keep coming back to Yahoo Sports and our Tumblr, we have some incredible coverage planned for an incredible year… let the Games begin!

By Ken Fuchs, VP Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Games

Watch the Weather with Yahoo Weather on iPad

by Adam Mathes, Director of Product Management, Mobile Weather

Over the past year, Yahoo Weather created an experience that made checking the weather beautiful and emotional.

Today we are excited to take that award-winning experience further with the release of Yahoo Weather for iPad.

We’ve created a spectacular new design that takes advantage of the larger screen. You’ll immediately see a smart summary of weather data along with curated photography. As you scroll, forecasts, graphs and weather data delightfully animate with every interaction.

We’ve also included a new sharing feature that lets you connect with friends and family by sending the weather conditions and photo for any location via text, email, Twitter or Facebook.

The app’s images are submitted by the Flickr community, and we look forward to seeing more of your weather photos. You can submit your own photos to our Flickr group here.

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An Update on Yahoo Mail

by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

This has been a very frustrating week for our users and we are very sorry.

For many of us, Yahoo Mail is a lifeline to our friends, family members and customers. This week, we experienced a major outage that not only interrupted that connection, but caused many of you a massive inconvenience — that’s unacceptable and it’s something we’re taking very seriously. Unfortunately, the outage was much more complex than it seemed at first, which is why it’s taking us several days to resolve the compounding issues.

So, what happened?

On Monday, December 9th at 10:27 p.m. PT, our network operating center alerted the Mail engineering team to a specific hardware outage in one of our storage systems serving 1% of our users. The Mail team immediately started working with the storage engineers to restore access and move to our back-up systems, estimating that full recovery would be complete by 1:30 p.m. PT on Tuesday.

However, the problem was a particularly rare one, and the resolution for the affected accounts was nuanced since different users were impacted in different ways. Some of the affected users were unable to access their accounts, instead seeing an outdated “scheduled maintenance” page which was a confusing and incorrect message (this has since been corrected and updated). Further, messages sent to those accounts during this time were not delivered, but held in a queue.

Over the remainder of the week, we worked around the clock to restore access and all messages to inboxes. This has included restoring IMAP access for people using other email programs like Outlook or Apple Mail to access their Yahoo Mail.

What’s next?

As of this afternoon, we’ve restored access to almost everyone and delivered the backlog of messages. We will continue to work on rolling out IMAP access and to fully restore inbox state (for example, which folders messages were placed in, which messages were starred, etc). This process differs for each user and as restoration continues, we’re committing to communicating directly with you on progress on an individual basis.

Above all else, we’re going to be working hard on improvements to prevent issues like this in the future. While our overall uptime is well above 99.9%, even accounting for this incident, we really let you down this week.

We can, and we will, do better in the future.

Twerking. Snapping. Selfies: Yahoo’s 2013 Year In Review

Is it just us, or did 2013 come and go as quickly as this ridiculously photogenic guy did last year?

Today Yahoo released its 2013 Year In Review, a look back at daily search habits from the year. Your top searches included high-profile trials, Obamacare, and the twerk seen round the world. You and millions of others searched the most for none other than Miley Cyrus, who came into our lives like a wrecking ball, dethroning Kim Kardashian, who was at the top of list in 2012.

Here’s a look at the top searches of the year on Yahoo in 2013:

  1. miley cyrus
  2. kim kardashian
  3. kate upton
  4. minecraft
  5. selena gomez
  6. obamacare (affordable care act)
  7. amanda bynes
  8. jodi arias
  9. iphone 5
  10. justin bieber

What else had you searching this year? Your top obsession is America’s favorite bearded duck-calling family show, “Duck Dynasty.” “Breaking Bad” found the recipe to get to the top and came in as the number two obsession. But let’s not forget about our strategically angled, filtered self portraits! The selfie came in at number nine on our list (just admit it — you love taking selfies!).

One thing is sure to trend for the rest of the year… Anchorman 2. And speaking of Ron Burgundy, the man himself has a special report for you on this year’s top Yahoo searches. Over to you, Mr. Burgundy.

The top searched news stories on Yahoo reveal a wide breadth of domestic and international affairs. At the top of the list was the Jodi Arias trial followed by Obamacare. The birth of the royal baby took the number four spot and Paula Deen’s lawsuit came in at number nine.

For the first time Yahoo’s Year In Review features some of the coolest, funniest, most creative new blogs on Tumblr from 2013.  

Top 10 Most Viral Blogs on Tumblr in 2013:

But what about the comeback kids? Fads of the past came roaring back throughout the year. You searched for everything from combat boots and jelly sandals to boy bands and high-waisted jeans.

So go on, eat that last Cronut (one of the top searched food crazes this year!) and give it one last twerk before we bid adieu to our internet obsessions of 2013.

For more of your top 2013 searches, visit Yahoo’s 2013 Year In Review.

By Vera H-C Chan, Senior Editor & Year In Review Project Lead

Welcome aboard, Katie. Anchors aweigh!

by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

Today, I am incredibly excited to announce that Katie Couric is joining Yahoo as our Global Anchor. Starting in early 2014, Katie will lead a growing team of correspondents at Yahoo News who will cover the world’s most interesting stories and newsmakers. image

I’ve always respected Katie for her thoughtful, charismatic approach to journalism. From pivotal coverage of natural disasters and historic elections to the Royal Wedding and the Olympic Games, groundbreaking interviews with heads of state and leading tastemakers, her experience is unmatched. Katie is dynamic, savvy and has a way of connecting with viewers that I really admire.

In addition to being the face of Yahoo News and shooting features for our homepage, Katie will continue to host her syndicated daytime talk show, Katie.

As Global Anchor, Katie joins Megan LibermanDavid Pogue, Matt Bai and our incredibly talented editorial team in pioneering a new chapter of digital journalism. At Yahoo, we are investing in bringing our users the absolute best content and video experiences available — and this is just the beginning!

Bring Your Photos To Life With Flickr Photo Books

Flickr is all about putting your photos first — we’re a community where people come to share, connect, and discover amazing images.  Today, we’re excited to give you an entirely new way to turn your photos into something special, to help you create and enjoy your favorite memories.

With Flickr Photo Books, in minutes, you can transform your beautiful photos into a professional-quality book.

It’s never been easier to bring your Flickr sets to life - just in time for the perfect holiday gift!

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Pick your favorite photo set, click on the Photo Book icon, and we’ll automatically turn it into a beautiful book for you.  In almost no time, you can turn your photos into something memorable, that we’ll send it right to your doorstep (or to a lucky friend or family member.)

Our focus with Flickr Photo Books is to make it simple and intuitive to create a book that always looks great and is beautifully finished. From the handpicked full-bleed layouts, to the heavy stock photo Lustre paper and the image-based cover with matching dust jacket, we know you’re going to love your books.

Your photos, beautifully bound — in full resolution. Go to http://www.flickr.com/create to make your Flickr Photo Book.

We can’t wait to hear your feedback and to see the books you create… on Flickr!

By Tom Hughes, Vice President, Flickr

Our Commitment to Protecting Your Information

by Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO

We’ve worked hard over the years to earn our users’ trust and we fight hard to preserve it.

As you know, there have been a number of reports over the last six months about the U.S. government secretly accessing user data without the knowledge of tech companies, including Yahoo. I want to reiterate what we have said in the past: Yahoo has never given access to our data centers to the NSA or to any other government agency. Ever.

There is nothing more important to us than protecting our users’ privacy. To that end, we recently announced that we will make Yahoo Mail even more secure by introducing https (SSL - Secure Sockets Layer) encryption with a 2048-bit key across our network by January 8, 2014.

Today we are announcing that we will extend that effort across all Yahoo products. More specifically this means we will:

  • Encrypt all information that moves between our data centers by the end of Q1 2014;
  • Offer users an option to encrypt all data flow to/from Yahoo by the end of Q1 2014;
  • Work closely with our international Mail partners to ensure that Yahoo co-branded Mail accounts are https-enabled.

As we have said before, we will continue to evaluate how we can protect our users’ privacy and their data. We appreciate, and certainly do not take for granted, the trust our users place in us.