Yahoo working on Google Now-like personal assistant app

Yahoo is working on its own personal assistant app in the vein of Siri, Google Now, and Cortana.

A recent conference call involving Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer revealed more on the company’s ongoing effort to compete with Google. One of Yahoo’s next big things, revealed Mayer, will be a Google Now-like digital personal assistant.

Business Insider has been speaking with a Yahoo source on the subject, and has been able to glean some additional information.

Apparently, Yahoo’s new product is a smartphone app code-named Index, and its development is being led by Jeff Bonforte and Peter Monaco – two executives formerly involved in the Xobni inbox organiser, which Yahoo acquired.

It seems as is this personal assistant app will be ad-funded, and Mayer wants a pilot version of Index to be ready some time during the second quarter of the year.

Apparently, Yahoo’s executive team believe that Yahoo’s key advantage over its illustrious rivals is history. Many Yahoo accounts are around 20 years old, whereas Google’s Gmail accounts have only been around for half of that. In the early days of Yahoo, it was common for users to email themselves a lot, which will create a uniquely deep source of information for a smart assistant app to draw from.

Read More: Cortana vs Siri vs Google Now

The app will apparently provide contextually aware search results based on a user’s email activity. So, for example, if an American user were to search for JFK on the way to catching a flight from the airport, Index would be able to scan their emails, figure out that they’re referring to the airport rather than the former president, and surface the relevant information – as well as the user’s flight details.

Whether Yahoo will be able to differentiate Index from its three powerful rivals will be interesting to watch.

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