Yahoo Rolls Out Search For Its Android Launcher Aviate

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In February, I wrote that the glaring omission from Yahoo’s Android launcher and “intelligent homescreen” Aviate was a search box. Now it has one.

Yesterday Yahoo announced that it’s rolling out search on Aviate (for Android 4.0 and above):

Search on Aviate is your gateway to your apps, contacts and the Web, with Web results powered by Yahoo. Aviate will display all your search results directly on your homescreen, so you won’t have to open a browser or separate window. This initial release is for English-speaking users in the U.S., but we look forward to bringing Search to more Aviators soon.

I hadn’t used Aviate in months so I was pleasantly surprised to see some of the changes that have been made by the Aviate team. Those changes make it much more likely, if you install Aviate, that you’ll keep it on your phone.

Aviate has contextual and temporal awareness and will show users different apps and content depending on time of day and location. It organizes and customizes the presentation of users’ apps.

Below are some screens from my phone that illustrate the UI (using my existing Android homescreen image) and new search box:

Yahoo Aviate with Search

Previously the UI “gap” between Aviate and your existing Android homescreen was jarring. Beyond this Aviate didn’t really offer enough value or utility to truly justify keeping it on your phone. The addition of search adds a major missing piece to the app.

Below is the old Aviate UI from a prior version installed on one of my Android tablets. The new Aviate is less “disorienting” to use.

Aviate

The new Yahoo-Aviate search box simply replaces the one from Google on your Android homescreen. And because the new Aviate is more “subtle,” after day or two you might forget that Aviate is installed.

Yahoo search results are not branded Yahoo, interestingly. Moreover, because search is not as much a navigational feature on smartphones and less “central” to the experience, users may not care as much that they’ve swapped Yahoo for Google. However Google search can still be easily accessed via the Google app or through Google Now.

There’s also a Google Now-like capability in Aviate as well, though not as sophisticated or useful at this point. Aviate users can still access Google Now and so Aviate becomes additive rather than a substitute for the core features of the Android UI — with the exception of that search box on the homescreen.

It remains to be seen whether Aviate gains a meaningful following —  to drive more adoption the app will truly need a breakout feature or capability — but it now represents a potential opportunity for Yahoo to generate more mobile search volume from the roughly 92 million Android users in the US.

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