For a company that ostensibly competes directly with Google, Yahoo! is curiously invested in Android – in Japan, at any rate. After launching their own pseudo-app store last year, the web search company has created a custom browser app for the Japanese market. The company hopes to keep on top of the search game in Japan, where unlike most other territories it’s actually beating its search rival Google.

The browser itself seems solid, if a little uninspired. The interface takes a lot of cues from Opera Mini/Opera Mobile and, strangely, the iOS browser. Naturally Yahoo’s search and various web tools like Mail and Maps are integrated, as is a “speed dial” home page. Yahoo hasn’t failed to integrate some of Android’s most useful features: voice search and mobile/desktop views are present as well. ICS-style quick buttons and a read it later feature are included. The lower bar seems a little busy and the whole interface covers more of the web viewing area than is comfortable for yours truly.

Currently the browser is only formatted for smartphones (and notably doesn’t incorporate much of Ice Cream Sandwich’s UI design), but it should at least function with Android tablets. Yahoo hasn’t published the app outside of Japan, and given the fact that their app store hasn’t spread either, they’re unlikely to do so in the future. Japanese readers can download the Yahoo! Browser at this link.

[via 9to5Google]