Yahoo will add OnePlace to its suite of services for mobile phones before July, offering a single repository for photos, Web links, news feeds, travel plans and 40 or so other kinds of content.
OnePlace adapts its presentation according to the type of information, and allows users to filter information, find related material and share it with their contacts.
The problem with the internet at the moment, according to Yahoo executive vice president Marco Boerries, is that users' favourite content is in so many different places, and it's mostly locked to their PCs. "OnePlace is about reinventing mobile content," Boerries said at CeBIT.
The service does that by pulling information from many sources – YouTube, Flickr, news sites, RSS feeds and so on – into a central portal, extracting contextual information and adapting the presentation to suit the mobile device.
When asked to store a link to, say, a film review, OnePlace will analyse the content and propose related links to the film itself, the actors or the director. With a sports report, it might present lists of recent match results, team members and related news reports.
Boerries could not say whether OnePlace caches actual news stories or just the links to them. Some news sites allow public access to stories only for a short time, later limiting access to subscribers, or deleting stories from their site altogether.
If OnePlace stores only links, someone returning later to "their" content might find only a dead link. If OnePlace caches stories then it will delight users but annoy content providers jealously protecting their copyright.
OnePlace also includes tools for filtering the information it holds and ranking it by keyword, by nature (celebrity, place, team, event), by contact, by proximity or by importance. "We have strong algorithms for deciding what should bubble up" to the top of the list, said Boerries.
Yahoo plans other ways to pull content into OnePlace, including encouraging sites to embed social bookmarking links in their pages, much like those used by Digg, Reddit or Yahoo property Del.icio.us.
It will publish APIs (application programming interfaces) allowing content providers to include meta-information describing their sites to OnePlace in the HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) headers of their pages.
Yahoo has also developed connectors allowing OnePlace users to link to their accounts on services such as YouTube, Facebook or Google Reader, so that their favorite videos, recent postings and starred newsfeeds appear directly in their OnePlace repository, Boerries said.
OnePlace is a companion to OneConnect, a kind of social networking aggregator that the company announced at last month's Mobile World Congress. Both services are based on Yahoo's "mobile widgets" platform, and will be compatible with around 300 phone models, he said.
They run either in a browser able to display HTML or XHTML, or as native applications for some platforms, such as Symbian OS or BlackBerry.
Boerries had one more thing up his sleeve: a demonstration of the service running natively on an Apple iPhone. Since Apple has not yet released a SDK (software development kit) to allow third-party developers code for the iPhone, Yahoo's engineers "just did it with a jail-broken iPhone like everyone else", he said.
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