A week after AOL unveiled its new-look front page with lifestreaming and e-mail aggregation, Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) is starting limited random beta tests of new home pages — and we mean limited — to less than one percent of users in the U.S., UK, France and India. The beta emphasizes apps from Yahoo and from third parties, including a dashboard with a way to view email from multiple providers similar to that launched last week by AOL (NYSE: TWX). Unlike AOL, though, Yahoo plans more customization and personalization of the home-page experience. Kara Swisher calls it My Yahoo lite.
Tapan Bhat, the SVP responsible for the Front Door, explained the changes and the testing on Yodel Anecdotal, the company’s official blog.
Among the changes:
– A left-hand dashboard for preview apps like the e-mail app, developed to encourage users to stay on the home page but keep up with changing information. The first round includes weather and local events. Bhat says users should expect “new preview applications from your favorite Web sites … and eventually even open it up to the Yahoo! Application Platform so that external developers and publishers can submit their own preview applications to be featured on the Yahoo! homepage.”
– Eventually, no promise of when, Yahoo plans to make it possible for users to customize the home page by choosing which apps to include.
– “Featured” content will be updated more frequently.
– Also eventually, Yahoo will add the ability to see social network info, something AOL plans to roll out in the next few weeks as part of its front-page lifestreaming. Bhat told Swisher: “They want choices, but they also want don