One of the most interesting things announced by Yahoo yesterday was the acquisition of the “intelligent [Android] home screen” Aviate. Aviate was in private beta, but I had a chance to use it for a week last year. It’s clear that Yahoo could do a number of interesting things with the acquisition.
The question is: will the company “go for it”?
First, what is Aviate? Aviate is a home screen replacement for Android devices. It organizes all installed apps by category into a bookshelf-like display. It’s personalized, time and location aware. It changes throughout the day and presents information according to time of day and context.
Here are some of the examples or use cases provided by Aviate:
- Wake up, and Aviate automatically brings you weather and your meetings for the day
- When driving, Aviate automatically gives you traffic and directions home
- Out to dinner, Aviate automatically shows you photos, tips and reviews for your favorite restaurant
In a blog post Yahoo SVP of mobile Adam Cahan said that Aviate will become “a central part of our Android-based experiences in 2014 (and beyond).” Beyond this, there wasn’t a lot of specific information revealed by Yahoo or by Aviate about how its technology will be used in the future at Yahoo.
Here’s more from Cahan’s post, mostly describing Aviate and affirming its value:
We envision homescreens becoming smarter, more personalized, aware of your context. Aviate helps us bring this vision to life. Aviate auto-categorizes apps on your Android phone and intelligently gathers them into “spaces.” By using signals to understand your context – WIFI, GPS, Accelerometer, Time, etc – Aviate automatically surfaces information at the moment it’s useful. So whether you’re just waking up, driving, at work, or maybe out for the night, Aviate learns your habits and helps anticipate the information and apps you need – making your phone smarter.
When I used Aviate, I found it to be insufficiently interesting to justifying keeping it as a homescreen replacement. But, I’m impatient; perhaps if I’d given it more time, I would have kept using it. However, I also recognize the product was somewhat immature.
While the technology behind Aviate might be broadly integrated into Yahoo apps for Android, it would also be interesting — I hope the company does this — to maintain it as a homescreen replacement for Android phones. This would effectively make it a more interesting version of what Facebook did with Home.
In April last year, I suggested that Yahoo pursue a similar “home” strategy on Android. The Aviate acquisition now gives the company that opportunity. Why not maintain Aviaite but with Yahoo branding (e.g., “Yahoo Home/screen”)? The company could also integrate a Yahoo search box into Aviate, effectively “colonizing” Android for Yahoo search.
Aviate or “Yahoo Home” would potentially turn Android (Google) devices into Yahoo devices. And it would probably be more widely adopted than Facebook Home because it surfaces rather than buries or hides apps as Facebook Home did. Overall, Aviate is much more useful than Facebook Home.
In addition, Aviate with its time, location and context awareness, is something of an answer to Google Now. Indeed, whatever Yahoo “takes” from Aviate for its existing apps, it should pursue these bolder Android “conquesting” strategies, as well.