Marissa Mayer has been acquiring companies of all sizes ever since she became the CEO of Yahoo! in July 2012. The latest is Aviate, an Android launcher that predicts which apps you are going to need at any given moment and puts them front and center on your homescreen.
Mayer announced that Yahoo! is buying Aviate on stage at her CES keynote earlier today, and said Yahoo! would use the technology to personalize its web and mobile applications. However, it may be that the acquisition is about talent, as much as it’s for the technology. The startup was founded by two Google-alumni, Paul Montoy-Wilson and Will Choi, the former of who was a project manager for the Play Store. It was not explicitly announced, but a post on the Aviate blog seems to suggest that the team, which includes four other engineers, will stay with Yahoo!
The Aviate team reassures users that the app “isn’t going anywhere”:
We are committed to continued innovation of Aviate. The technology and product will remain the same — it’s simply going to get better, faster.
Aviate is not a launcher in the classic sense of the word. The app doesn’t allow you to apply too much customization to your homescreen, like Apex, Nova, and other launchers do. Instead you get just three predefined screens, one for your current activity, one for categories of apps, and an alphabetic list of all apps. Aviate’s big forte is its ability to select the apps you are likely to want to use, based on factors such as time of the day, location, or calendar appointments. The whole idea is to make the phone organize around the user, and not the other way around.
If the principle sounds familiar, it may be because Google Now works pretty much the same way. Speaking of which, Yahoo was said to be in talks with Robin Labs, a company that develops a Google Now-like virtual assistant. So Aviate may be just another piece of the puzzle for Marissa Mayer.
To celebrate the news, the Aviate team is offering the YAHOO activation code for a short time, allowing you to install and activate the app. Currently in beta, you can get Aviate from the Play Store for free.