In a bid to expand the usefulness of its site, Yahoo is making interfaces to Yahoo Photos, Yahoo Shopping, and other features of its site available to independent developers.
Yahoo can't predict exactly what outside developers will do with these services. "But they are sure to come up with some interesting applications," says Jeffrey McManus, director of Yahoo's Developer Network.
By making the application programming interfaces available, Yahoo takes another step toward serving as a platform for businesses and offering a multitude of uses on top of the ones already engineered into the site, McManus says. The more Yahoo's services are used, the more visitors it will attract to its site. Third parties are likely to add their own photo handling applications to the capabilities of Yahoo Photos by making use of the new API, for example.
McManus and Ash Patel, Yahoo's chief product officer, disclosed at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference in San Diego that four new APIs will become available over the next few months.
Yahoo Shopping is already available as a comparison-shopping service to outside Web sites, but Yahoo is enhancing what can be done with it. Instead of issuing a large volume of search results in response to a query about a sought-after item, Yahoo Shopping will enable shoppers to name categories, subcategories, and product attributes to narrow their search results to what they're most interested in, says McManus. A possible use for such a service would be on a boutique apparel site that could compare its specialized jeans or sweaters to goods from name-brand suppliers.
Yahoo Photos is the world's most popular place to store and maintain personal photos, with 34 million users, McManus says. Through the Yahoo Photos API, third-party developers could create applications that tag, organize, edit, and upload photos to Yahoo Photos. Or a new application might allow a family member to generate calendars or greeting cards using photos that reside on the site.
Yahoo Calendar likewise will be given an API in the next few months that would allow a book club or bicycle riding organization to move its established calendar on Yahoo to the organization's own Web site. Changes or updates to Yahoo could be passed through to the group site, McManus says.
Another API will be for Yahoo's MyWeb 2.0 bookmark sharing site and enable developers to create applications that can read from, as well as write to, MyWeb, says McManus.
The new APIs can invoke use of a browser-based technique for identifying users, which Yahoo sees as a long-term aid to encouraging E-commerce. Consumers will register at Yahoo and supply identification information, and independent Web sites may ask users for permission to confirm who they are by contacting the Yahoo authentication service. The service would confirm that such a user was registered with Yahoo and would supply the independent site with only the personal information authorized by the user, according to McManus.
The Yahoo Developer Network is now offering an Application Gallery where Yahoo visitors can browse through the applications available across Yahoo Search, Flickr, Maps, and Yahoo Music Engine.