Yahoo! Mail Comes Out of Beta

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Yahoo! MailToday, what was formerly the ‘new ajaxified Yahoo! Mail beta’ is no longer — the interface is now the default to all of millions’ of Yahoo! Mail users. This completes a 3 year-switchover for Yahoo!, dating back to its initial acquisition of what was known as Oddpost back in 2004.

Yahoo! Mail, for those who’ve observed, has been slowly playing catchup: if their recent announcement of unlimited storage for everyone is of any indication. Today’s announcement, in addition to millions of users now seeing the new Yahoo! Mail, also follows the introduction of a couple of new features — ones that complement the needs of a mainstream consumer too:

SMS Text Messaging: Users in the U.S., Canada, India, and Philippines will now be able to SMS text message any mobile phone number — for free. This kind of capability has existed around the web for a while, but it’s the first time it’s being fully integrated into an e-mail service. More countries are to follow.

Integrated Instant Messaging: With the adoption of Google Chat, there’s gotta be something right? Users will be able to use the web interface to also chat with and IM their Yahoo! Messenger and Windows Live Messenger contacts.

Auto-Recognizing Shortcuts: Killer feature, anyone? Yahoo! Mail will now recognize all dates, addresses, keywords and the like automatically in e-mails (underlining them in blue) and redirect the user to the appropriate location, whether that’s Yahoo! Calendar, Maps, or Search.

Yahoo! Mail’s 3 year-transition period is complete, and I think I can safely say Yahoo!’s job of catching up has been successful to an extent. Gmail lovers will be in no position of switching, of course, but more than anything, this is going to stop existing users from turning away. Feature-wise and overall, their interface can no longer be called inferior to anyone’s. And who can forget unlimited storage? Better late than never as I say :)


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