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Yahoo just built email for the next wave of smartphone users

The new Yahoo Mail for Android Go and mobile web is designed to run on the basic phones popular in developing countries—without feeling like a compromise.

Yahoo just built email for the next wave of smartphone users
[Photo: courtesy of Yahoo]

According to wireless industry organization the GSMA, by 2025, the number of people that access the web via wireless phones is expected to grow by 50%. The majority of those people aren’t going to be using the newest iPhone. Instead, they’ll be accessing the web using less powerful devices and, in many cases, the mobile web.

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Today Yahoo is launching two new ways to access its mail service, both tailored for these new users. They include a new mobile web experience and an Android Go app for Google’s Android Oreo Go Edition device.

“Across the world, you’ll see some people have been using desktop mail, and then they migrate to mobile mail. But there are some parts of the world where mobile is their first email experience,” says Josh Jacobson, senior director of product management for Yahoo Mail. “When we took a look at the mobile web, we saw there was area for improvement to bring it up to the level of our apps.”

Yahoo Mail [Animation: courtesy of Yahoo]
Rather than create different experiences for the mobile web and Android Go, Yahoo attempted to come as close as possible to replicating its standard native app. The Go version is identical to the full version of the app, except it doesn’t support as many languages and uses lower-resolution graphics. The new mobile web experience loads quickly, supports multiple accounts, and offers a variety of themes. (Through its testing, Yahoo has found that people use the mobile web version of mail like they would an app, pulling to refresh and swiping around without being prompted to do so.)

Though Yahoo Mail doesn’t have Gmail’s high profile and billion-user bragging rights, more than 227 million people worldwide currently use it every month. The service receives 26 billion emails a day in 46 different languages across 70 markets. Yahoo sees an opportunity to serve users in parts of the world where the mobile web is widely used, and Android Go could gain traction. “As a business, we understand that this user base is going to clearly grow, and it’s important to service those users,” says Jacobson, pointing out that apps optimized for Android Go get the most prominent promotion in Google Play on those devices.

Once people have an email address, they tend to stick with it, so by building for the next wave of smartphone users now, Yahoo is investing in the future of its venerable email service.

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About the author

Emily is a journalist based in San Francisco.

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