Yahoo has been talking about a more social and custom approach to its applications for several years now, and the ramping up of the recently launched Yahoo Open Strategy takes the company further in that direction (finally).
To begin with, the Yahoo Mail welcome page will have more relevant information, such as new messages from your friends (i.e. connections) within the Yahoo network, hinting at how social Yahoo is hoping to make its email client.
In addition to recommended connections, Yahoo Mail has added some filtering options that let you immediately see messages from your connections. This feature looks to be somewhat similar to the Facebook news feed, which allows users to filter their social graph updates across various settings.
There’s also a new Yahoo Toolbar, which is looking to do much of what most recently launched toolbars are doing–centralizing Yahoo products and applications through an always-accessible browser add-on. The biggest change with Yahoo Open Strategy, however, is the new stance on integrated applications. The added support for an open strategy across its products and services means that third-party apps can find better ways in which to fit into Yahoo’s larger picture, as well as their own.
Email continues to the the “home room” of online social activity, and so turning Yahoo into a highly social platform where third party apps can facilitate more direct relationships with users will only make Yahoo itself more social in the end. Changes made to both Yahoo Mail and the My Yahoo start page reflect these strides towards becoming more welcoming to third party applications. Yahoo Mail will push relevant and productive third party apps for end user-benefits, such as Xoopit, an application that allows you to search media attachments and directly share them across the web. Admittedly, I have Xoopit for Gmail and have anxiously been awaiting Yahoo Mail compatibility. Other new apps include some from Flixter and WordPress.
Making the inbox more social is certainly an important goal for Yahoo, and its Open Strategy initiative is moving the company down this road while building on the Yahoo Application Platform, Social Platform and Query Language. So I’m sure we’ll be seeing a number of other Yahoo products inching towards more open standards as well, and generally becoming more integrated with Yahoo’s major services.