I spoke with some people from Yahoo including Tom Chi, Senior Director of Product Management for Yahoo Search, about the new feature, Search Pad. Essentially, it keeps track of your searches, figures out when you are researching things, & stores results of interest in a virtual notepad you can use for reference. The following clip shows what it does:
“Let’s say for example, you are doing research online to buy a new TV,” a representative for Yahoo tells me. “Using Search Pad you no longer need to save the websites you are researching as a bunch of links in a doc, or in bookmarks or even scribbled on a sticky note. Yahoo!’s Search Pad will intelligently detect your intent to do research online, and then automatically track the websites you wish to save by organizing the addresses and information in notes which you can edit, save, delete, print or share.”
“Search Pad helps users complete important tasks that require multiple searches over a period of time,” she added. Users can always access Search Pad from Yahoo results pages, and add their own notes to entries whenever they feel like it. They can also organize the notes within Search Pad.
The rep put me in touch with Tom Chi, Senior Director of Product Management with Yahoo Search, who when asked about a possible mobile version tells me, “At this time, Search Pad is only available on Yahoo! web search, not mobile search; however Yahoo! Search is continually innovating new Yahoo! Search features for our users.”
Will Yahoo use any of the data collected for any reason other than to deliver this feature?
“This follows the same data retention policy we have across Yahoo!,” explains Chi. “We recently announced a new policy. Under the new policy, Yahoo! will anonymize user log data within 90 days with limited exceptions for fraud, security and legal obligations. Yahoo! will also expand the policy to apply not only to search log data but also page views, page clicks, ad views and ad clicks.”
Will users be able to disable the feature?
“Users can turn the program off for the current session using the drop down menu in the Search Pad display in the upper right area of the Search Results page,” he says. “The program can also be turned off indefinitely via the Enable/Disable control in the main Search Preferences which can be found in the Options drop down menu at the top of the Search Results page.”
Search Pad is still in its testing phase, and will not be available to the public for a few months. Hopefully it will launch with a minimal amount of bugs as a result. The feature is just the latest example of how Yahoo is striving to set itself apart in search, an industry that is so dominated by Google.