Yahoo’s been making a lot of big moves under CEO Marissa Mayer, from the acquisition of Tumblr to the revamping of Flickr. But none of the company’s recent efforts have re-instilled my faith in the company quite like the new Fantasy Football app.
To me, the old Fantasy Football app–not Flickr as some have posited–epitomized everything wrong with Yahoo. It was ugly, buggy and slow. It lacked features that had become commonplace in competing apps, such as live drafting and push notifications. And you couldn’t even depend on it; last November, a service outage just before kickoff left countless players stranded, unable to adjust their lineups or keep track of scores. Using the app was always a dreadful experience.
But here we are in 2013, and Yahoo’s Fantasy Football app is new and improved on iOS and Android. It looks completely different, trading its tacky turf-and-goalposts motif for a much cleaner design. Navigation seems much smoother overall, especially on the iPad, where you can browse through players in a card-like view. (In a blog post, Yahoo’s Ron Belmarch said the company pulled together a new team to work on the app, including a couple of recently-acquired startups.)
It’s not just window dressing, either; Yahoo has added support for live drafts in its apps, and promises to add push notifications soon. Last year, Yahoo finally added support for trades and waiver pickups, so combined with the new features and design, it seems like the app is finally able to compete with ESPN and other services. I’m actually looking forward to using it.
Perhaps I shouldn’t read into this too much, but Fantasy Football should never have been neglected by Yahoo. The company has talked about how “engaging” it is–in other words, people are obsessed with it–yet it had a reputation for being the worst Fantasy Football service of them all. The new app is a sign that company is getting its priorities in order.