in case studies

Yahoo! Go 2.0 shows how far mobile UI design has to go

Yahoo Go 2.0

Have you seen the Yahoo! Go 2.0 interface yet? I have, although only on my laptop as their mobile beta is currently full… I’m on the waiting list.

Yahoo! are very excited about this interface. Here’s how they describe it:

A revolutionary design. Yahoo Go! is the first application optimized for the “small screen” of a mobile phone that truly makes it easy and fun to access the Internet. Everything about the Yahoo! Go interface is designed to be both visually stunning and give you what you want with the fewest clicks possible.

At the core of the UI is the ‘carousel’ at the bottom of the screen that allows you to switch between the various widgets or applications (such as email, and the typical content streams – news, finance, sport etc.).

The carousel could hardly be described as revolutionary, as it is obviously inspired by the Mac OS UI.

More interesting, I think, is the design of the mobile search and the customisation of content sources.

The mobile search actually sounds pretty clever. Not only have the designed the search results in a way that is more useful for the mobile user:

oneSearch includes more actual content in your initial results than any other search—all grouped by subject matter and relevance, so there’s no sea of links to wade through like with a PC search.

The search engine also has location awareness – both awareness of where you are in the application AND physical location awareness. Now this is getting sexy.

oneSearch improves results based on both where you are in the application and where you are in the real world. For instance, launching a search for “eagles” in Sports will return results for the professional football team first. Similarly, searching for a movie will yield showtimes in your local area.

Ah, can it be – finally – location based services coming to a handset near you! I’ve waited a long time for this!

Content customisation looks as though it allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds to your phone using their interface. Very nice (although probably not so new). So you can choose who provides your news rather than live with whoever Yahoo! has their content deal with.

Another nice looking feature aims to remove the need to type URLs (hooray! this is no fun at all on a mobile).

Yahoo! Go also makes it easy to get to other websites. Simply type in the name of a website you want to visit (like eBay), and oneSearch returns the link to the website. Click the link and you’re there.

Having recently upgraded to a reasonably current handset (review coming soon!), I can confirm that the mobile user experience remains, as it has been for some time now, utterly rubbish. It’s as though all stakeholders are conspiring to make things as difficult as possible – from the product design of the hardware to the installed software to the internet content and design. There are frustrations and errors to be made at every turn.

So far, most compliments have to be paid to one or two browsers that are invaluable in making the internet a vaguely hospitable place for the mobile browser. Yahoo! Go 2.0 will hopefully also make the overall experience a little more palatable.

At the end of the day though, it should be a massive wake up call to us all that Yahoo! borrowing an element from the OS user interface and transplanting it into the mobile environment could be considered revolutionary.

It seems ridiculous to me that it has taken this long for any kind of innovation to areas like search interface for mobile and eliminating URL entry to occur. Sure, I know it’s a technical nightmare to develop for mobile… but it’s outrageous that little seems to be happening to increase consistency across handsets and browsers and operating systems.

*deep breaths*
With any luck I’ll get a Beta invite sometime soon… stay tuned for reports on what it’s like to actually use this interface.

Have you used the Go 2.0 interface yet? How’d you find it?

  1. In Moggridge’s “Designing Interactions” there is an interview with one of the people involved with the introduction of iMode in Japan, and they noted that you are often at the mercy of the third-party suppliers of services when it comes to interactions – is that an issue with Go 2.0?

  2. “It’s outrageous that little seems to be happening to increase consistency across handsets and browsers and operating systems”

    If only! Unfortunately we have deadlock because everyone is competing with everyone else. The operators don’t want to work with each other, and don’t want to cede ‘control of the customer’ to the .coms (google, yahoo, etc). Meanwhile the handset manufacturers don’t want to work with each other and don’t want to hand over complete UX control to the operators (who tend to be very bad at it anyway).

    Result… gridlock

    Yahoo Go is interesting but it’s still walled-garden-like. And I have reservations about the use of lots of different midlets (assuming this is a midlet?).

    iMode worked for very specific reasons to do with the Japanese market. Namely extreme control by the operators (DoCoMo and AU KDDI are the only serious operators there), who specified iMode standards to all handset manufacturers. There is no parallel to this market structure outside of Japan.

  3. Interesting comment re: walled garden Olly.

    I think it’s really interesting with mobile internet that there is such a strong *perception* of a walled garden when, in most instances that I’ve come across, the garden isn’t actually walled at all!

    True Walled gardens seem to be pretty rare these days, meaning that you can almost always access the ‘real’ internet… but the way that the landing pages for each network are designed, the exit points are often difficult to locate (even when you’re looking for them), and the OS UI rarely helps. So, intriguingly, we end up with imaginary walls.

  4. Sure. It’s possible to get ‘out onto the web’ on almost any phone. But in practice most operators make this as hard as they can. It’s certainly not something that the average user would want to do often. They also do stuff like provide no data charge for content from their services, whilst charging per byte for other sites accessed.

    Their business plans in the near (and perhaps mid) term appear to depend on getting users to use their mobile internet services. It reminds me of AOL circa the mid 90s, as opposed to being a pure ISP.

    I’m not trying to paint the operators in an especially bad light. I think the whole mobile industry has gotten itself into a situation where real standards are currently out of reach (the kind that will see orders of magnitude increase in mobile sites and mobile site access). To this end I do applaud Yahoo, it is a step (albeit a small one) in the right direction.

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