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Yahoo! hooks self into Twitter

Tests 'local' ecoupons

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Yahoo! has unveiled a wide range of new additions to its sweeping online portal, including a handful of search tools, hooks into the micro-blogging service known as Twitter, and games from the "social" gaming giant Zynga.

Today, during a press event alongside the Web 2.0 Summit in downtown San Francisco, the company also introduced a "local offers program", a way for local merchants to distribute online coupons to the company's 180 million unique monthly users on both PCs and mobile phones.

Yahoo! is partnering with 20 different merchants on the program, which echos Facebook's new Facebook Places–based "Deals" setup, and it is currently under test. The program might involve a new section of the Yahoo! home page that offers such local deals to users.

Speaking to a small group of reporters this morning, Yahoo! chief product officer Blake Irving said Yahoo! is beefing the company's Bing-backed search with a new search- assist tool, which suggests possible searches as you type, and with a desktop version of its iPhone "sketch-a-search" tool, which lets you search by virtually roping an area on an online map.

As part of its integration with Twitter and Zynga games, Yahoo! has rolled out a new beta version of its Yahoo! Messenger IM client, which lets you update Facebook, Pulse, and Flickr as well as tweet to Twitter, play Zynga games, and, yes, send IMs. ®

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