Coming Soon: A Faster and Twitter-Friendly Yahoo
Props to Yahoo! Mail for being as diligent as ever in the shadow of Mother Google. Today's limited public beta emphasizes the company's social media prowess via the inclusion of Twitter status updates, separate tabs for instant messaging, and enhanced photo and video slideshow capabilities.

From the Ground ^

These days it's trendy necessary to toss everything you thought you knew about user interfaces and consumer behavior to the wind and start over. Yahoo! has reportedly done this with the new beta which, as a result, is being touted as twice as fast as its predecessor.

In addition to Twitter integration, the Yahoo! update packs some Facebook, Flickr, Picasa and YouTube friendliness, allowing users to connect, and view automatic slideshows directly from the inbox. 

Also, it bleeds purple:

newyahoo_ss.jpg

New Yahoo! screenshot -- obviously my Twitter function was defunct

Social/Mobile is Still Going Strong

"Online communication tools are an important part of people's lives--whether they're connecting with their friends and family, sharing pictures and videos, or keeping up on news across social networks," said Blake Irving, chief product officer, Yahoo!. "For the millions of people who access email from a PC and a phone or tablet, there's no better cross-device experience." 

That's right, Yahoo! is also chipping away at the mobile experience with the beta, which is said to provide a similar experience across iPad, iPhone and Android devices. 

Going Against the Grain/Google

This turnaround comes at a deeply vital time. The company lost its senior advertising executive David Ku in September, followed by Hilary Schneider, executive vice president of the Americas, David Ko, senior vice president of U.S. audiences, mobile and local, and Jimmy Pitaro, vice president of media. Meanwhile, many advertisers have shifted their ad budgets over to branding rather than transaction-driven campaigns, and it's within this area that Google holds expert status.

Perhaps Yahoo! Mail's entirely different focus on social integration will give it the boost it needs, perhaps not. Either way, there's reason to celebrate:

To get the new features, you'll have to opt in to Yahoo's Beta for Mail here.