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Yahoo! redesigns email, makes it social and takes it mobile

It's been five years since Yahoo! has made major changes to Yahoo! Mail but the company is rectifying that with a new beta version.

Yahoo! Mail Beta aims to double its performance speed, while also providing enhanced social integration (with direct access to Twitter and Facebook updates), better protection from spam and integrated photo and video viewing.

The new email interface is available for PC users as well as those perusing their email via mobile and tablet devices.

"Online communication tools are an important part of people's lives - whether they're connecting with their friends and family, sharing pictures and videos, or keeping up on news across social networks," said Blake Irving, chief product officer, Yahoo! in an October 27 statement.

"We've built a powerful global framework for email that lets us quickly innovate and enhance this trusted service that people rely on every day. Yahoo! Mail Beta completes our trio of mail experiences, seamlessly spanning the PC, Droid, iPhone and iPad. For the millions of people who access email from a PC and a phone or tablet, there's no better cross-device experience."

With 273 million users, Yahoo! is one of the more popular online email services, but its number of monthly users has dwindled recently as people migrated to other providers with additional features and better user interfaces.

According to market researcher comScore, Microsoft's rival email service Hotmail has around 362 million users and Google's Gmail is constantly adding new users to its September tally of 193 million.

Yahoo! Mail Beta is available to users in 25 markets around the world now and can be turned on by visiting http://features.mail.yahoo.com and clicking "Try It Now." The testing period is said to last until the end of 2010 after which the new features will roll out to all users.