Are we about to get the kind of whiz-bang technology product we’ve been expecting from Marissa Mayer’s Yahoo?
Since she joined Yahoo in July 2012, CEO Marissa Mayer has done a great job of fixing the company’s culture. She’s also refurbished a lot of its most popular products — including weather, email, and finance. Most of these redesigns have been well-received, though a vocal minority of Yahoo Email users are pretty upset about that product’s new look.
What Mayer hasn’t done yet is get Yahoo’s product people to invent anything new and exciting.
That could be changing, if a “leaked” video that’s surfaced around the Web is real.
The screengrabs showed a smartphone mounted to a windshield with a Yahoo-branded app on the screen. The app appeared to show how much traffic there was on the roads to a particular destination.
Latest Tech Tips said the actual video had been removed from the Web.
In the video, a man in a car and talks to a smartphone mounted on his windshield. As he talks, a computerized voice talks to back to him, and a Yahoo-branded app appears to respond to his voice commands. The voice seems to work a lot like Apple’s Siri or Google Now, the voice search tool from Google.
There’s a lot to be sceptical about in regards to this video.
It could be fake — something made by a fan.
Even if it is real, that doesn’t mean Yahoo is actually making the app.
To us, the video looks like something a team inside of Yahoo would make to pitch an idea for a product in hopes of getting a green light from upper management.
It makes sense that Yahoo would be considering this type of product — one that would put users at the center of their mobile experience. Despite some progress under Mayer, Yahoo remains far behind on mobile. That’s because the reason most people use Yahoo on the desktop is Web-based email, and people don’t use Web-based email on their phones.
If Yahoo were able to make a smartphone assistant with reliable voice-recognition, it would have a product that lots of people would use many times of day. That’s a big if, however. Google and Apple have lots of engineers working on voice-recognition technology, and their efforts are still kind of pathetic.
Yahoo declined to comment on the video. You can watch it here.