Its only been a week or so since we saw the first of Google Hotpot, so the timing of Yahoo’s local search announcement probably shouldnt be too much of a suprise. The announcement of a suite of local and search products aimed at personalising your search experience will be announced at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco.
A couple of the features of the new Yahoo toolset include:
New and Improved Sketch-a-Search: New to the desktop and iPad, and improved for the iPhone, these first-of-their kind apps will allow you to zero in on where to eat by drawing on an area map and filtering restaurants by cuisine, ambiance, and ratings. The latest iPhone and desktop versions will even show you reviews of Zagat-Rated restaurants in the location you’re investigating.
OpenTable Application: The new features will allow you to book a reservation without leaving the Yahoo! Search results page through Yahoo!’s new partnership with OpenTable, a leading online provider of real-time restaurant reservations.
Further to these new features a number of other potentially very interesting tools have also been announced:
Restaurant Comparison Quick App: Aggregates key comparison points like price, distance, cuisine type, atmosphere, and ratings into a single side-by-side view.
Rich Search Assist: Yahoo! will start testing a beta version of a more intelligent and content-rich Search Assist (a technology Yahoo! pioneered). Whether you’re looking for a game score, the closest Starbucks, or even a new digital camera, the answers – or direct links to them – will be available in the new Search Assist window as you type (Thing Google Instant)
Yahoo! Clues Beta: Yahoo! Clues lets you see what the masses have on their minds by allowing you to search the searchers. You can view and compare aggregate data, such as gender, location, and income level, with graphs, detailed maps and other metrics that tell you exactly who’s searching for specific topics. More details can be found on the Yahoo blog post on Yahoo! Clues beta.
I have to admit, I actually like a lot of the new functionality announced by Yahoo over the coming days, and the integration of Bing results should help improve somewhat the quality of the search results previously found. In my opinion, these improvements to the search interface will pull some people over (and I do think some of these may significantly improve the mobile volumes however search engines live and die on their results and it is these that are bread and butter of any search engine. This is where Google in my opinion still have the advantage, however there is no doubting that from a usability perspective, there is still some significant life in Yahoo yet…..