Yahoo a Better IM?

June 13, 2004

in Chat & IM, Skype Journal

Where does Yahoo fit in all the messenger systems? Compared to MSN and AOL it’s is not winning on share. Still it recently had a facelift. Download here. From my perspective there is both good and bad. Still it brings some innovative new features worth thinking about.

The Good:
Voice Quality: Anecdotally Yahoo voice capability is much improved. I used to use Yahoo for PC to PC voice before discovering Skype last year. The improvement traces to latency reduction rather than a more open sound and richer sound. It still sounds tinny. That’s Yahoo trying to save bandwidth through compression. Can’t blame them it goes through their servers. This little change is not hyped at all.

Launchcast Radio: This new feature pipes stereo music right into your buddy list. Plus if you want you can let your buddies know what you are listening to. The song appears next to your name. Then they can double click and listen to the same music as you at roughly the same time. It is not synched so singing is a little weird. Lauchcast radio does not yet link with yahoo chatrooms.

Radio and Voice in Conversation: It’s possible to keep listening to launchcast and hold a voice conversation. In fact this make the voice session more real, closes the gap and hides some of the poor sound quality. Potentiall both parties could be listening to different music.

Pictures: Your photo is becoming de rigour on messenger systems. Not everyone is revealing a pictures of themselves. Still Yahoo builds in some protection, unlike Skype where unless you block unknown callers you get their picture. I wouldn’t assume that all pictures you be what you expect, especially from spammers. Yahoo also introduces their Avatar function.

Stealth: Now you have the capability to reveal yourself to specific individuals while maintaining invisiblity with others. This needs setting each time one logs on. One step closer to more complex disclosure systems. A plus.

The Weird:
Audibles: Whatever were they thinking. You install the new version and audibles and the default setting is “flirts”. Even the voices are adult. I wonder who Yahoo’s target is. Am I weird? Does it bother anyone else that a kids first experience with an Audible will be a flirt? Mummy probably won’t even know. The few comments I see via Feedster appear positive and are from slightly older women. So audibles could be fun. They could also get a few raised eyebrows if you have sound on in the office.

The Frustrating
Screen Hog: The whole feature set now takes up more screen space. There is no basic or minimalist setting. For that just move to Trillian.

Load time: Is it just me or does logging on seem to take much longer?

From memory, Yahoo’s last major update came in advance of MSN and AOL. Frankly it was my favorite, until Skype came along and created an adequate text and superb voice connection along with conferencing. Yahoo and the rest still have something to learn when it comes to adhoc events and single clicks. There are still two extra clicks required for a voice conversation and a unmasked delay while the system connects. Conferences are even more complex.

So unless Yahoo, AOL and MSN get their act together, then this pronouncement really won’t hold much weight. We think???

We’re making (AOL Instant Messenger) a new front door for communications services,” said Ed Fish, senior vice president of AOL’s desktop messaging unit. “We think it’s becoming the new phone.” AOL IM Blurrage

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