Yahoo!' Huge Upgrade With AI: 'One Of The Most Significant Updates' In Nearly A Decade

Yahoo! News

The very first things that came up in mind when speaking about AI, is mentioning some of the world's biggest AI players.

From OpenAI that started the generative AI trend with the introduction of ChatGPT, to Google with its own AI tools, Meta with its own, and others with their own respective products..

These companies are often under the spotlight, and make headlines in the AI industry due to how fast they're progressing in the field, and how well they can achieve milestones after milestones.

They also make headlines from how their products captivate their audience, and wow users with their abilities.

Some of the last things that can came up in the mind, is hearing something from old tech company that has diminished in fame and influence.

Yahoo! has way past its peak.

But that doesn't mean it cannot shine.

Yahoo! News

First of, the company announced that it's debuting a revamped version of its news app.

The new Yahoo! News app, which is available as a free download, is powered by the underlying code of the well-received yet short-lived Artifact, a news reader app that launched in 2023 and was helmed by Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

Artifact was heavily infused with AI capabilities, which gave it the abilities to surface news articles that might interest users the most.

Though the app is now dead, Yahoo! resurrected it, after it acquired Artifact with the goal of bringing Yahoo users "more content tailored to their interests."

Months later, that plan has emerged in the form of the revamped Yahoo! News app.

While Yahoo! is no longer the titan of the internet it once was, Yahoo! News is huge.

Considered one of the largest news platforms in the U.S., Yahoo! has enough might left inside it to dive head first into the AI competition.

Using Artifact's AI, Yahoo! is revitalizing its app by sharpening its powers of personalization.

With more than 1,000 publishers partnering with Yahoo! News, who get paid based on revenue sharing agreements, the AI allows users to pick five or more news topics they're interested in, like politics, science, gaming, and climate.

From there, a combination of algorithmic curation is able to determine what they see.

Additional customization options lets users block individual publications or keywords if they don’t ever want to see them in your feed again.

Another one of Artifact’s ability Yahoo! News borrows, is the ability to rewrite clickbait headlines on the fly.

Users who see a headline that feels like clickbait can flag it, and once enough people have reported it, the headline will be replaced in the app with a clearer, often more direct rewrite.

Yahoo! News

Yahoo! knows that AI can hallucinate at times, and this can cause problem with its recommendation algorithms.

The company also knows that by deploying AI, it must aggressively track user behavior and promote news stories with high engagement, and this has consequences, like reinforced bias that can lead to the spread of misinformation.

As a result of selecting exactly what news sources and what types of stories users want to be delivered to them, there is a risk that the Ai can lock users into an echo chamber.

To counter this, Muller said that Yahoo! is trying to very carefully walk that ethical tightrope of delivering what users want to read without causing troublesome side effects.

Because of this, Yahoo! News is not unleashing the AI on its own, and instead, use both AI and human editorial decision-making to populate users' feeds.

"I really like the way this app has come together, because it does balance that Top Stories with that ‘for you’ in a way that’s going to provide you that awareness of what I need to know and what I want to know," Downs Mulder said.

"That’s what’s going to keep a reader from getting too far down a rabbit hole."

Yahoo! Mail

This AI push for the News app comes a few days after Yahoo! introduced another AI update it made to its Mail app.

Before Google's Gmail, Yahoo! Mail was one of the most popular email providers out there.

This time, Mail has been given an generative AI capabilities, in which it can now summarize articles, allowing users to hear some 'Key Takeaways' that may interest them.

The AI summaries appear in the desktop version of Yahoo! News too, but initially, the feature is only available for a small subset of users who are selected and then choose to opt in.

And initially, the recommendation features enabled by the Artifact-driven algorithms in the Yahoo! News app are only available on mobile.

Yahoo! said that its goal is to eventually synchronize features across all platforms.

Kat Downs Mulder, senior vice president and general manager of Yahoo! News, said that the update is a "complete top to bottom redesign of our Yahoo! News app."

The AI additions came following a major redesign of the Yahoo! News app, which has been tweaked to look slicker and more uncluttered.

"People want places to spend their time that are going to help them save time and get what they want to get done, done," said Downs Mulder.

"And in this case, that’s getting informed, having things to talk about."

It's worth noting that besides using Artifact, Yahoo! also uses proprietary technology, with some features powered by AI tech companies Yahoo! has partnered with, like OpenAI.