Yahoo launches Aviate app for a 'smarter' Android home screen

Aviate plays a role in Yahoo's efforts in contextual search

Yahoo has released an Android personalization app that could give the company a stronger foothold in mobile contextual search.

Yahoo Aviate is the product of the company's acquisition of Aviate earlier this year, through which it obtained an app for personalizing the home screen on Android phones based on what users are doing.

Aviate's app had been in closed beta. The version launched Monday is available globally for Android phones in English, with some new features.

The app's developers have been focused on organizing people's apps based on any number of signals. Walk by a gym and fitness apps might pop up. Driving in your car might bring music apps like Spotify to the fore.

Yahoo's version of the app has features to make it more useful, including alerts for weather changes, and a way to connect to conference calls with a single tap.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has spoken out on the company's efforts to offer more in the way of "contextual search," with Aviate comprising a key element in that pursuit.

But Aviate exists in a crowded field of apps offering personal assistant-like functions, such as EverythingMe and EasilyDo. Plus, trying to predict what people really want is hard, and could be annoying if not done right.

Apps like Aviate also compete to a degree with Google Now, Google's mobile tool for iOS and Android that provides different information likes sports scores and news headlines based on data signals specific to the person.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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