Yandex builds personalised content recommendation technology Zen into Yandex Browser on all platforms in 24 countries and 15 languages. Based on the latest developments in artificial intelligence research, Zen recommendation technology uses the company’s vast global web index to pick stories, images, videos and other content for each individual user and offer it them right in the new tab of Yandex Browser.
The intelligent content discovery feed in Yandex Browser delivers recommendations based on the user’s location, browsing history, their viewing history and preferences in Zen, among hundreds of other factors. Zen uses natural language processing and computer vision to understand the verbal and visual content on the pages the user has viewed, liked or disliked, to offer them the content they are likely to like. Yandex’s recommendation technology Disco, based on the company’s machine-learning algorithm, MatrixNet, helps Zen choose which suggestions to offer to the user at any given point in time. Targeted to identify the user’s personal long-term interests and cater to them, Zen also delivers content not directly related to their immediate preferences. The more the user interacts with Zen, the better are the chances that they will see serendipitously interesting content.
‘With all the vastness of information available on the internet, something genuinely interesting isn’t easy to come by. Zen helps solving this problem,’ says Victor Lamburt, head of Yandex Zen. ‘It points each user to what’s interesting specifically to them. This is the future for all web browsers: providing personal internet experience and helping people discover something new’.
The infinite personally targeted content feed in Yandex Browser gives web users an opportunity to discover something they appreciate, but wouldn’t have found it otherwise. To start exploring this new internet experience, all one needs to do is download Yandex Browser and give Zen some browsing history to work with. Alternatively, liking or disliking a few websites on Zen’s start up page will help it understand your preferences on the outset. Users can also alter the type or topic of content they are offered later on by choosing to view more of similar content, less of it, or block specific sources altogether.
Zen first appeared as an experimental feature in Yandex’s launcher app for Android in Mexico and Brazil in 2015. The average time the users spent viewing Zen’s recommended content has increased since then from only 5 minutes to 20 minutes in May 2016. Zen is currently available both in Yandex Launcher and Yandex Browser for iPhone, Android mobile devices and Windows PC and laptops.
Yandex’ personal content recommendation technology can also be easily integrated into third-party mobile applications, such as browsers or launcher apps, and offers great monetisation potential for OEMs, app developers, and mobile carriers.
Yandex kits out its browser with built-in domain name system protection technology to safeguard all users of Yandex Browser against DNS spoofing. This is the first time a browser comes with a DNS security technology on board.
Yandex Browser’s built-in active security system Protect provides a comprehensive anti-fraud defense against the majority of currently existing cyber-threats. It automatically checks all downloaded files for viruses, warns users about dangerous websites, and protects their passwords when using public networks.
Yandex Browser’s newly added line of defence, DNSCrypt, is a protocol that authenticates communications between a browser requesting a DNS address of a website and a DNS server offering this address. Provided by renowned DNS security expert, OpenDNS, this protocol will now be doing its job right through the browser, without user's having to purchase, download or activate a separate security product.
DNS spoofing, when your requested website is replaced with a fraudulent website somewhere server-side, or router hijacking, when your router's DNS is changed by malware, according to the industry experts, affect millions of modems and routers worldwide.
Now, instead of going to an unknown DNS resolver, all your requests made through Yandex Browser will go straight to one of 80 secure and fast DNS servers owned by Yandex in multiple locations all over the world. In addition to using a verified DNS resolver, the DNSCrypt protocol encrypts communications between the browser and the server making them impossible to intercept.
Yandex Browser with DNSCrypt is available for Windows and OS X and can be downloaded from here. To start enjoying the browser's DNS protection, turn on the DNSCrypt encryption in settings.
The option to choose a DNS resolver to communicate with your Yandex Browser will become available in the near future.
The minimalist concept version of our Yandex.Browser launched at the end of last year to respond to the highly interactive nature of contemporary web browsing is now available as a beta version, which is designed to also address the rising demand for personal privacy.
To meet the expectations of those users who would like to have more control over their digital footprint, we’re now rolling out a much more private beta version of the experimental Yandex.Browser, available in 15 languages, including English, German, Portuguese, Spanish and French.
Unlike in most browsers, sending the information about users’ behaviour to the developer (i.e. Yandex) in the private version of Yandex.Browser is disabled by default. While sharing browsing history and web cache can in principle be disabled in other browsers, this opportunity isn’t normally offered as a default option. Sharing users’ information helps developers better understand their behaviour and offer them a better browsing experience. The problem is that the right to make a decision whether to share this information is effectively removed from the user – few can find a pathway to customised privacy settings in a browser.
In addition to data sharing disabled by default, Yandex.Browser provides the ‘Stealth Mode’ option, which blocks analytics cookies, sharing plugins etc. This mode is activated by clicking a button conveniently located right next to the browser’s ‘smartbox’, a combined search and address bar, at the top of the screen. The source code of the built-in blocking extension was developed by AdGuard and is available on Github for anyone to see.
Safe browsing, as well as search suggestions appearing in the browser’s smartbox, is the feature indispensible for contemporary browsing that relies on sharing user information, albeit in an anonymised form. The safe browsing technology allows us to warn the user about unsafe websites. Each fraudulent or potentially harmful website that we identify in the process of indexing more than 30 million webpages every day is logged in our proprietary cloud database. Every time a user is about to visit a website, the website’s address is automatically checked against this database to see if it might be there and whether a warning should be shown.
We have modified the safe browsing technology to use it in our privacy-conscious version of Yandex.Browser. Instead of sending the full address of a website the user is about to visit to Yandex in order to check this address against the database of potentially harmful websites, Yandex.Browser only uses a fraction of a ‘hash’ of this website, which is checked against a ‘hashed’ database of potentially harmful websites on the user’s own computer. The browser uploads a ‘shell’ of this database to the user’s computer at the first launch. This database is then ready to be ‘filled’ with fractions of ‘hashed’ website addresses the user intends to visit. To keep this database updated and the user safe, Yandex.Browser synchs the database on the user’s computer with Yandex’s cloud database every hour, using only fractions of each hash.
Search suggestions in the browser’s smartbox give instant answers to users’ search queries without redirecting them to search results pages. The users of Yandex.Browser can at the first launch choose a default search provider from a selection of three, which varies depending on the user’s location.
To generate search suggestions, predict search terms and offer instant results without redirecting the user to the search results page, the browser has to share the search terms with the search provider as the user enters them into the browser’s smartbox. This option is enabled by default in Yandex.Browser. Although this type of data sharing can be disabled in settings, its benefits massively outweigh privacy risks. Also, web users have an opportunity to add any search provider they trust to the browser and set it as the default.
One of the flagship features of the new Yandex.Browser is rich search suggestions, which instantly take the user directly to the website, or even specific page on a specific website, via a widget and bypassing the search results page. Similarly, simple, straightforward searches in the smartbox of the new Yandex.Browser will retrieve simple and straightforward results right in the browser.
Other automated features essential for the contemporary web surfing, such as sending crash reports, resolving web navigation errors, or the autofill function, involve sharing users’ information in one form or another. These features remain enabled by default. The user has full control over this aspect of their browsing experience and can disable any or all of these features.
The beta version of experimental Yandex.Browser retains its minimalist look to offer the user unhindered experience interacting with the website. Browser tabs can now be toggled within groups, while tab groups can be moved within windows. Website information, the smartbox and favourite websites are hidden when not in use and can be summoned by clicking on the website’s header in Yandex.Browser.
Just like the alpha version of experimental Yandex.Browser, the beta version is available for Windows and OS X and can be downloaded at browser.yandex.com.
At a point in time when web pages have stopped merely hosting content and now look more like fully-fledged applications interacting with their users in more ways than one; when websites no longer redirect their visitors to other places on the internet to give them what they need – web browsers cannot remain the same square windows through which to look at 'carved-in-stone' content.
Facebook.com users, for instance, can now watch a video right in their timeline, play music and talk to their friends. Soundcloud.com isn't just a music hosting website, it offers their visitors nearly professional music recording, streaming and sharing experience, complete with advanced search functions and equaliser settings. In the existing environment, when most web-based resources – from social networking websites to newspapers to shopping platforms – are expected to have their mobile reincarnation as an app, the role of the desktop browser, as well as its look and feel, cannot remain the same.
In response to and accordance with the evolutionary change of the web, Yandex releases a new alpha version of its browser. The new streamlined Yandex.Browser is a new step in its evolution. It reflects the current trend in web user experience, which puts an emphasis on interaction and personalisation. The new Yandex.Browser lets users experience the web directly, while offering secure protection from the darker side of the internet. It is designed to respond to all the current needs of a web user, which aren’t limited to mere browsing, but now also include shopping, reading websites in a foreign language, booking flights, trains, taxies or hotel rooms and restaurant tables.
With its transparent interface merging into each new web page viewed by the user, Yandex.Browser now also serves as an instant information source providing answers to some of the most popular queries. After typing a search in the browser’s smartbox, the user can see a snippet about what they are searching for – a thing, a product, a person or an event – without even having to look at the search results page. The default search engine in the new, also Chromium-based, Yandex.Browser is, naturally, provided by Yandex, but can be changed to some other search provider from a list in the browser’s settings. To reflect the idea of a website as a standalone web application, tabs in the new browser are now displayed at the bottom of the screen.
All the features unique to the classic version of Yandex.Browser, including favourite websites panel (known locally as ‘Tableau’), the browsing quality enhancing ‘Turbo’ mode, the document viewer, are available in the new version.
By bringing all these changes to our browser, we're hoping to make the internet more user-friendly for everyone. The new Yandex.Browser is a weighty contribution to our goal of creating a smart and transparent environment for a happy and comfortable internet experience. Instant page view, 'pages as apps', see-through user interface, rich search results, personalisation, integrated Yandex products and services and many more – are all implemented in the new Yandex.Browser, a trailblazer for the future of internet experience. With user feedback, we're hoping to understand how well we're faring on this path
The new alpha version of Yandex.Browser is currently available for download for Windows and OS X devices.
We have long been witnessing a trend for the internet to go mobile, with more and more users accessing websites or looking for information online on their mobile devices – smartphones and tablets. The information that is required ‘here and now’ is easily provided by means of a portable contraption found right in your pocket or handbag. More than 10% of all searches on Yandex come from mobile devices. The Yandex.Search app available for all major platforms has been downloaded 3.7 million times by mobile users all over the world.
Today, we are taking yet another step towards our mobile users with the launch of our own Yandex.Browser for Android smartphones and iPad. The new mobile Yandex.Broswer features advanced search functions by Yandex available in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This is the first version of the browser, which was designed for devices most popular among our users – smartphones operating Android 4.0 and above and iPad.
The mobile Yandex.Browser follows Yandex’s desktop browser released in October last year and utilises the best technologies and innovations implemented in it. Since its launch, the desktop Yandex.Browser has gained the monthly audience of more than 8 million users only in Russia. Our mobile users, however, have their own needs and expectations when they go online. With this in mind, we have added to the mobile version of Yandex.Browser a number of features that would facilitate the users’ internet experience specifically on their mobile devices.
The key feature of the mobile Yandex.Browser is that it helps users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey to solve problems on the move by offering them a shortcut to the required information. Using the browser’s Smartbox, a unified address bar and search box, allows to enter either a web address or search query, as well as the name or description of a site, and be taken straight to the required web page bypassing the list of search results.
The Tablo panel offers instant access to favourite and frequently visited sites. Popular searches instantly retrieve ready-made answers – videos, news, pictures, locations on a map. Upon searching for a photos of Saint Petersburg or café nearby, the user immediately sees a selection of pictures of the city or the nearest café on a map, without having to click through to them. The mobile Yandex.Browser also supports voice input.
The Yandex.Browser for iPad users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey caters to their popular need to quickly pick something online – a hotel, a recipe or a product. The browser’s iPad search interface has the Split View feature: users can see both an open web page and search results on the same screen and quickly switch between them.
Thanks to Opera Software-licensed Turbo technology, just like the desktop Yandex.Browser, the mobile browser quickly loads webpages even when the connection is slow. When you are on EDGE, for example, the browser’s Turbo mode turns on automatically to compress webpages on the server-side by up to 75%, saving your time and also money, if you are on a pay-as-you-use plan.
Yandex.Browser for the iPhone and for Android tablets will be available later this year.
In the next versions of the mobile browser users will be able to synchronise their passwords, user names, tabs, autofill entries, search history, browsing history, favourite websites in Tablo with their desktop browser. In addition, the later versions will support notification for unread messages from social networks.
Most features of the browser are available for users in Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus – the countries where Yandex provides locally-tailored search services that are deeply integrated with the browser. There is also a version with the English user interface available to anyone who would like to try a fast and secure mobile browser on their Android phone or an iPad.
The current international version of mobile Yandex.Browser has Google as the default search provider, with Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex offered as options, which can be changed manually in the device’s settings. To our users in China we offer Baidu as the default search engine, with Google, Bing and Yahoo! as alternative search providers. The next editions will give users an opportunity to choose the default search provider right at the first launch.
The English language version of the browser is available for download on Google Play for Android smartphones and in Apple App Store for the iPad.