Yandex Blog

Yandex.Disk Gives Users More Control Over Their Content on Social Networks

Your content is yours and only yours. It doesn’t stop belonging to you even after you share it online. That’s what we believe in, at least. Yandex.Disk, our cloud storage service, now has a functionality which allows the service users to syphon all photos posted on their Facebook, and some other social network accounts into folders on their Yandex.Disk – just in a couple of clicks.


Using Yandex.Disk’s new photo import feature, they can save on their cloud storage service not only the photos they shared themselves, but also those images in which they were tagged by someone else. The users of the cloud service can also share their photos stored on Yandex.Disk simultaneously to their Facebook, or other accounts – one image or whole album at a time. The service’s built-in photo-editing tool can be used to enhance the quality of pictures or add filters, text or graphics before publishing.

Yandex.Disk’s new functionality, currently available only on desktop, gives users more control over their photos on the internet and also simplifies their management. This opportunity might interest businesses, such as stock photo agencies or image banks, or web-based photo printing companies, who will be able to increase their customer base by simplifying their processes and thus attracting new non-professional contributors. Yandex.Disk’s integration with social networks is just one step on the way toward deep integration with image-based services via API.

Since its launch in April 2012, Yandex.Disk has been evolving to meet the needs of the majority of its users. Having started as a cloud service offering 20GB of free storage space to everyone, Yandex.Disk responded to popular demand later on and expanded its range by providing an opportunity to buy more space, at flexible rates, to those who needed it. The cloud service’s technology was also used to help mobile users transfer their content from their old Symbian, Java or WindowsMobile phone to a new iOS- or Android-based device.

Yandex.Disk is available in English, Turkish, Russian and Ukrainian as a web service, as well as a desktop app for Windows, OS X and Linux platforms, and a mobile app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

With over five million international user accounts on top of 19 million users registered in Russia, Yandex.Disk enjoys catering for the needs of the global audience and appreciates the trust of its users wherever they are.

Facebook ‘Firehose’ Comes to Yandex

One of the biggest changes to have taken place in the internet recently is, without doubt, the rise of social networks. They’ve become so popular that it’s now difficult to imagine the internet without them. Millions of people turn to online social networks every day to catch up with friends and family, share news and opinions, or just have a laugh. Like it or not, they’ve become a part of daily life.

It follows that information about the hot topics in social networks is an important factor for a search engine in answering users’ questions. The intensity of discussion on any subject in social media is proof of the topic’s relevance, or “hotness” if you will. A search engine has to take this into consideration.

Here at Yandex, we’ve always said that our specialisation is information-search services, aggregation and the structuring of content. We don’t compete with anybody in the sphere of social networks; instead we seek to collaborate with all the players. We see one of our key tasks as being the creation of social search services, using content from all the popular social networks in equal measure. We want to provide users with the possibility to receive answers that take into account the information that can be gathered from these resources. This would allow a user to find an old friend without having to register on every single social network one after another. It would also allow a user to tap in to all the discussions of some interesting event all together in one place.

We’re already working with Twitter in such a way, and we index status updates in LiveJournal, VK and others.

Today we’re announcing another important step in this direction: Facebook has granted us full access to its “firehose” of public data. This means that now, not only can Yandex search for people and company pages on Facebook, it can also search for content marked “Public” from users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey. Of course, anything users mark as “Private” will remain off-limits.

At present, Facebook posts from users in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan pop up in search results only on the Blogs part of Yandex Search, but soon they will be added to the service’s main Search page, giving users even fresher answers to their questions about recent and current events. Along with answers to such queries, Yandex will add up-to-date articles and videos, among other things that have had great resonance among Facebook users. In addition, the popularity of materials in the social network will be taken into consideration when ranking search results.

Yandex Labs collaborated with Carnegie Mellon University to build a new personalized TV experience

At Yandex Labs, we had a chance to work on a 3-month practicum with students and Professor Ian Lane from Silicon Valley department of Carnegie Mellon University. The project was ambitious but also fun: we wanted to build a new TV experience - personalized and interactive. We developed an application for TV that shows personalized content on a TV screen and allows the users to easily manipulate and interact with the content using hand gestures. The app is still a prototype and is not available for download, but we made this video to share our ideas with you.

The app brings users’ social network streams to their TV screens and allows them to navigate over this information using hand gestures. It is built on Mac OS X platform and we used Microsoft Kinect for gesture recognition.

The application features videos, music, photos and news shared by the user’s friends on social networks in a silent ‘screen saver’ mode. As soon as the user notices something interesting on the TV screen, they can easily play, open or interact with the current media object using hand gestures. For example, they can swipe their hand horizontally to flip through featured content, push a “magnetic button” to play music or video, move hands apart to open a news story for reading and then swipe vertically to scroll through it.

To train gesture recognition, the Carnegie Mellon students together with Professor Ian Lane evaluated several machine learning techniques, which included Neural Networks, Hidden Markov Models and Support Vector Machines (SVM), with SVM showing 20% better accuracy. They put a lot of effort in building a real training set – they collected 1,500 gesture recordings, each gesture sequenced into 90 frames, and manually labeled from 4,500 to 5,600 examples of each gesture. By limiting the number of gestures to be recognized at any given moment and taking into account the current type of content, the students were able to significantly improve the gesture recognition rate.

We have been thinking of controlling a social application with gestures for quite a while. When we found a team of like-minded enthusiasts, we took this opportunity and did a nearly three-month research project. The results of this effort were quite impressive and now we are looking whether we can implement them in a real life application.