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January 23, 2008

Give Me Some Skin: Ask Gets More Personal

So. You're reading the Ask.com blog, which means you've been to Ask.com, which probably means you've seen our Skins feature.
Western Sky skin on Ask.com

Introduced when we launched Ask3D last year, Skins allows you to change the design of the Ask.com homepage. It was a small part of the whole Ask3D package, but it's quickly become popular on a millions-of-people level, all skinning to their hearts' content.

And many skins users requested upgrades--the most-requested one being the ability to allow them to upload their own images.

Today, we're happy to announce just that upgrade.

All you have to do is use the new upload feature on Skins.

Let's say you have a really sweet photo, like this one we took of the team that worked on the Skins project, and you want to add it to the Ask homepage.
Original image you want to make a homepage skin

Click the Skins bubble on the Ask homepage:
Click the Skins bubble on the Ask.com homepage

Click the "Upload Your Own" button to reveal the upload dialog.
Upload Ask.com homepage skin - Step 1

You can select an image from your computer or enter an image URL. I have this image on my computer, so I used the browse button to find it. Don't forget to the check the box that Legal team made us add; then click the "I Agree" button.

Upload Ask.com homepage skin - Step 2
Now you can decide on a name for your skin, which color text to use, and where you would like the skin aligned on the homepage.

Here are some examples of different anchor points:
Crop your Ask.com homepage skin - example
Crop your Ask.com homepage skin - example
Crop your Ask.com homepage skin - example

Once you're done, click the "Next" button to confirm your new skin.
Upload Ask.com homepage skin - Final Step

Does everything look OK to you? If not, you can always go back and make some changes. I like mine the way it is, so I'm going to click the "Use This Skin Now" button and just like magic: the Ask homepage is my own!
Upload Ask.com homepage skin - Finished Example

Browsing Skins

Or maybe you're the kind of person who appreciates variety. We've also added more images to our library and introduced the ability to easily browse them--including the skins you've uploaded yourself. Just go to http://skins.ask.com  or click the "See All Skins" button in the Skins bubble on the homepage.
Browse Ask.com homepage skins

It's so easy to use, what more is there to say?

Enjoy!

Erik Collier
Director of Product Management
Ask.com

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January 03, 2008

Ask.com Mobile: Voice-Activated Directions Show You the Way

We talk a lot around here about the Mobile Web and making mobile search faster, better. Admittedly, it's easy to get excited about the different features and capabilities of all the new pimped out devices, but at the core every mobile phone does one thing inherently well: transmit the human voice.

I am excited about our first step in integrating voice with Ask.com Mobile. Today, we've added a new option to our Directions service called Click to Speak. The feature lets Ask.com Mobile users enter addresses by speaking instead of keying them in. With just a click, users can activate a voice activated directions service and within seconds receive a text message with a link to directions.

The new capability incorporates technology from our East Bay neighbors, Dial Directions.

Here's how the new feature works:

1) Use your web-enabled mobile device to go to Ask.com (either http://www.ask.com or http://m.ask.com).

Step 1

2) Click the "Directions" link on the home page and click the "SPEAK your address" option.

Step 2

3) Hit the continue button to start the call and follow the voice prompts to speak your location and destination. You can use specific addresses or intersections.

Step 3

4) Almost instantly you will receive a text message with a link to your directions. You can view them in either a traditional list mode or turn-by-turn step format complete with visual cues.  You can also toggle between "driving" and "walking" routes.

It's that easy. No more mis-typing an address while on your way to that important business meeting! No more typing with your thumbs while trying to find your friend's birthday party!

Intrigued? Check out the video:

Ask Mobile with Dial Directions

Or better yet, try it out yourself.

Brendan Hallett
Product Manager
Ask.com Mobile

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Opinions expressed here and in any corresponding comments are the personal opinions of the original authors, not of IAC Search & Media and may not have been reviewed in advance.

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