Yahoo is releasing new search features marketers may like and making it clear that it still wants to handle online consumers’ queries in spite of its alliance with Microsoft. The company announced that it will launch local search apps, and it is testing predictive technology that displays a top result as users type.

Brafton has reported that local search’s day has arrived, and Yahoo affirms this with a new line of localized Quick Apps that will go live later in the week. Yahoo says dining is a leading local search topic, with the site handling more than 35 million restaurant queries in October alone. To this end, it is launching restaurant-friendly local search tools.

A Sketch-and-Search App for tablet users allows them to designate an area on a map where they want to eat, then produces relevant nearby listings. Yahoo will also release a Restaurant Comparison Quick App to help users decide between venues based on side-by-side ratings, menus, prices, distances and atmospheric info. Additionally, an Open Table App will make it easy to book reservations directly through Yahoo search results pages.

While those developments will be exciting for marketers in the food industry, all brands may be intrigued by a new Rich Search Assistant application Yahoo is testing. It’s similar to Google Instant in that it predicts queries and displays a result preview.

Though not everyone can see the Rich Search Assistant feature yet, Yahoo’s screen shot of the tool in action makes it seem that just the first potentially relevant result appears in the Search Assistant Window. For marketers, this means Yahoo SEO stakes are higher than with Google Instant, as only the No. 1 result appears in the Search Assistant box.

Paid search ads won’t be affected by the Rich Search Assistant, officials told Search Engine Land. While Google Instant counts ad impressions whenever searchers hover over result pages for more than three seconds, Rich Search Assistant won’t impact ad data because the feature currently covers up paid results.

These features are just some of many the company is developing to maintain its position as a user-friendly search destination. Earlier this week, Brafton reported that Yahoo launched a Contributor Network to expand the exclusive content offered on its sites, and it just revealed Yahoo Clues – a keyword tool that offers insight on the consumers behind trending search topics.