Remember Yahoo! Avatars? The colorful, cutesy characters that users could create as their profile pictures? Well, starting April 1, 2013, the company will no longer be supporting them across their properties. Also up in line for retirement on the same day is the Yahoo! app for BlackBerry, Yahoo! App Search and the Yahoo Message Boards site. The company will also be withdrawing support for the Yahoo! Updates API on April 16.

Those who are particularly fond of their avatars can go to the Avatars download page, pick a picture size and format, and download it. You'll have use a photo editing service to edit the avatar yourself, though. And if you intend to continue using your avatar with Yahoo! products, head over to your Yahoo! Profile and upload the avatar. Yahoo! will also withdraw support for the Avatars YQL table.


Sharpening focus

Also being turned off is Yahoo! Sports IQ, the company's daily prediction game. Users' final lifetime Sports IQ score and rank will be automatically transferred to and preserved with their Yahoo! Fantasy Profiles.

Although the Yahoo! Message Boards website will be inaccessible, message boards on individual properties like Yahoo! Finance and Yahoo! Fantasy Sports will continue to function.

Speaking about the decision, Yahoo!'s Jay Rossiter, EVP, Platforms, said, “At Yahoo!, we’re focused on making your daily habits more inspiring and entertaining. This means that we’re constantly reviewing and iterating on our products and experiences. In some cases, it means updating our products like we’ve done recently with our new welcome to Yahoo!, Flickr for iPhone and iPod Touch and Yahoo! Mail. In other cases, after much thought and deliberation, we decide to shut down some products. Before making these decisions, we look at a variety of factors. The most critical question we ask is whether the experience is truly a daily habit that still resonates for all of you today.”

In December last year, Yahoo! announced some changes to its Messenger services, and added that while the messenger itself would be working, the company would be shutting down some of the services linked to it. The biggest service to be shut was Yahoo! Messenger Public Chat Rooms, which met its end on December 14, 2012.

Other services that shut down on the same day are Yahoo! Messenger Pingbox and the messenger's ability to sync with Microsoft's Windows Live Messenger. While Microsoft buddies still appear on the Yahoo Messenger contact list, they're now grayed out, and any attempt to send messages to them will fail.

The Yahoo! Voice Phone In and Phone Out features have been shut down too. Users can no longer add new funds to their accounts, and active users who had balance in their accounts were to receive emailed instructions on how to request a refund. The service ended on January 30, 2013.

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