Yahoo Inc. has finally started to roll out new features designed to make its e-mail service more like the popular online hangouts Facebook and MySpace, following through on a promise made nearly a year ago.
With the additions announced Monday, Yahoo’s roughly 275 million e-mail users will have the option of setting up their accounts so they can highlight communications from other people with whom they have formed an online connection.
The concept mirrors a premise that has turned privately held Facebook and News Corp.’s MySpace into two of the Web’s hot spots for socializing over the past three years - a period that has coincided with a wrenching downturn at Yahoo.
After registering their profiles on Facebook and MySpace, people can use the sites to form online bonds with their friends and family so they can share personal information and keep track of each other’s activities.
Yahoo also is copying Facebook and MySpace by opening its e-mail service to applications created by outside programmers. In a test that started Monday among a small number of e-mail users, Yahoo began offering applications developed for finding photos stored in their mailboxes, transferring information to blogs and sharing tips about movies.
The changes will turn Yahoo’s e-mail service into a “scrapbook for your life,” said John Kremer, a company vice president. “We hope opening up Yahoo mail will have a game-changing influence on the industry.”