The Yandex web browser

Yandex is the biggest search engine in Russia, with a 60% market share in that country. World-wide it ranks fifth. Yandex has just announced a new web browser:
The users of Yandex's browser can see locally relevant information, such as current traffic or weather conditions, in real time, right in the browser interface. Equipped with proprietary machine-learned automated translation technology, the browser considerably expands the browsing territory for those who speak only one language. The company's cloud-based safe browsing technology, together with Kaspersky Lab's security solution, enhances the browser's safety by warning the users about potentially malicious websites.

The Yandex browser uses the WebKit engine, popular with a large number of web developers. The browser's user interface is based on the open-source Chromium code. The Yandex browser platform has through a technological partnership with a key long term partner been expanded to incorporate Opera Software's Turbo technology, which allows to boost the browser's page loading capacity even with a slow connection.

The Yandex browser supports Windows and Mac OS and can be downloaded at browser.yandex.ru, browser.yandex.com.

Update: I’ve downloaded the Mac version and played with it a little. As expected, it is very similar to Chrome, with a few differences:

  • The Yandex browser has a popover half-window called Tableau that appears when you open a new empty tab and, optionally, whenever the cursor is in the “Smartbox” (URL text field). If there is no input, the Tableau displays a grid of large icons reminiscent of Microsoft’s Tiles. Some of them are simply buttons that transport you to a website (disappointingly, the Twitter icon is one example), others display information such as current weather and temperature. Interestingly, the Tableau has been implemented via an extension (including a background page).
  • Everything is very Russia- and Yandex-centric: There is a Yandex button that gets you to the Yandex website. It always goes to the Russian version, but can be switched off. The search engine invoked via the Smartbox defaults to Yandex (again, yandex.ru, not yandex.com), but can be configured. And the option to translate a website is offered for, say, English, but not for Russian. I would expect the browser to pick up the system settings instead of assuming that the user’s preferred language is Russian.
  • The address bar does not have an icon that serves as a proxy for the currently displayed website. On Chrome, you can drag this proxy to perform actions such as creating a bookmark on the desktop or in the bookmarks bar. I’m missing that feature.
Hence, this browser caters to Russian Yandex users, but offers little that is new to other circles.