Hands on: Yahoo Go 3.0 beta

The latest iteration of Yahoo Go, Yahoo's mobile portal, streamlines its look and services, and gets a tad more open.

Yahoo Go promotional image

This article has been updated to include new information.

Does the new Yahoo Go 3.0 beta herald Yahoo's new mobile strategy? That's what Yahoo would like you to think.

At first glance, the new Yahoo Go, a portal on the mobile phone to Yahoo's proprietary services--e-mail, Flickr, messaging, maps and directions, weather, and categorized news--looks strikingly similar to the old Yahoo Go. Sure, it's more celestial-looking with a burnished blue sky, pillowy clouds, and rays of emanating light that replace the bubbly signature yellow of its predecessor. But the carousel layout and offerings are essentially the same.

Here's what's not. The carousel is unfixed, which means users can delete Yahoo's default widgets and add their own for a much more tailored experience. The new Yahoo Go also makes use of keypad shortcuts. Pressing '#' gets you back to the carousel and '0' (zero) launches oneSearch. Reminders are tucked into most context menus.

The start screen is another brushup, helpfully summarizing your Yahoo inbox, and letting you add customized "snippets" of information, like a stock price, Web link, or RSS feed. Quick links are also shown on this page--users can select from various Yahoo services or include links to favorite Web sites. I liked both ideas, but questioned the implementation of a long, scrolling page layout that puts my quick links far below the snippet section, defeating the purpose of immediate access.

Yahoo Go oneSearch (Credit: Yahoo, Inc.)

One significant addition opens Yahoo Go to other services, and therefore gives the app a much-needed push for social relevance. Integrating a widget gallery similar to the Yahoo Widgets Engine into Yahoo Go puts users in touch with their favorite non-Yahoo services and information, all while couched in the comfort and visual peace of the easily navigable app.

I have to pause here for a second for a caveat, without which an article on a just-born beta release (as of about 9 a.m. PST this morning)? Here it is: at the time of testing, Yahoo Go comes preloaded with only two widgets (MTV News and MySpace), which will grow as employees and third-party developers create widgets for Yahoo's mobile environment.

With Yahoo Go, Yahoo has adopted a chiropractic mantra, that a series of small adjustments can add up to notable improvement. Yahoo Go 3.0 is a prettier, faster, and more elaborate effort for a mobile portal that offers ambulatory users a far easier and more practical way to access e-mail, Web sites, and data than the typical browser.

At this time, Yahoo Go 3.0 beta is available for select BlackBerry, Nokia, and Sony Ericsson models, with extended compatibility coming soon (full list). Download Yahoo Go 3.0 over the air by entering get.go.yahoo.com into your mobile browser, or visit Yahoo Go's Web site to receive the download link via SMS.

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