Yahoo's OneSearch app for mobile gets new tricks

The Internet company's mobile-search app for mobile phones gets a handful of new capabilities and support for an additional mobile operating system.

Article edited at 2/10/09 at 8:00 PM to clarify the history of OneSearch for mobile.

Yahoo OneSearch's enhanced search suggestions (Credit: Yahoo Inc.)

Yahoo on Monday released an update to its voice-activated mobile search app, Yahoo OneSearch, that gets a handful of new capabilities for both its full-fledged app and OneSearch shortcut, plus new support for the Windows Mobile operating system. The OneSearch shortcut is a plug-in that lets you search by typing or speaking search terms into a search bar located on the home screen of your mobile phone.

After releasing a voice-enabled version of its OneSearch plug-in to a few Nokia phones last August, Yahoo has been slowly expanding the application's capabilities, as well as expanding the application itself, to the remaining mobile platforms. Considering the California company's latest string of woes, its slower rate of production compared to competing mobile search apps, namely Google, isn't too surprising.

What the OneSearch update offers is essentially good, but it isn't anything new to the field of voice search, either. Among the additions is a location feature that uses cell tower signal to mark your approximate whereabouts. After placing you, your search results will list local businesses by default. It's a necessary feature to win mindshare among mobile searchers, but Yahoo is playing catch-up among its peers. Microsoft integrated its version of location triangulation into Windows Live Search for mobile last month, and location awareness has been a big part of Google's mobile map client for well over a year.

Yahoo's OneSearch application and shortcut also receive some nice enhancements in the suggested search department. As you type a query, Yahoo's search app breaks its predictive offerings into two. The first block of suggestions is populated with a list of your previous search terms. The second block pulls in matches from an internal dictionary that include the first letters you've already typed. Although assisted search is by now a comfortably worn theme in browser and mobile search, it's welcome in Yahoo OneSearch as a timesaver all the same.

Yahoo's final feature is brand-new support for its voice search plug-in for Windows Mobile phones--but only in the U.S. Yahoo's OneSearch apps, however, have expanded onto some cell phone models in Australia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

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