Yandex Review

No, its not a brand of tissue but a browser (PC, Mac, Ios, Android) created in 1993 and also a search engine created in 1997, followed by the usual suite (map, email,etc…).

So, what’s with the name? It’s the acronym for ‘Yet Another Indexer’. Now, try it for yourself in context, repeat it after me: ‘Yandex it’. Well, let’s face it, it doesn’t sound as cool as ‘Google it’. Or have we have been brainwashed by the most popular search engine that anything else is not cool, I’ll let you decide (or Yandex it if you can’t make your mind up).

Browser

When you open Yandex, you are welcomed with the familiar default page adopted by most browsers nowadays, search bar and big ugly squares for your bookmarks (up to 18). Yandex make it nicer with a choice of different animated backgrounds. I chose the spider web below:

animated_background

The browser interface is kind of unique: your tabs are at the bottom, the address bar and extensions, although on top, are not intrusive. The advantage? It looks like you have a constant full screen view of the website you’re on. One handy tab feature is auto-group, grouping tabs of the same website together (click on tab to expand).

You have 10 built-in extensions that you can activate: lightshot (screenshot), WOT, Adguard, comfortable video viewing, turbo mode, passwords and forms manager, Evernote, block flash banners and videos, syncing tabs between device, save vids and article for later viewing. So you are pretty much ready to go out of the box. You also have a huuuuuge amount of extensions in their catalogue. Just kidding, Yandex only have over 600 extensions but the most popular are there (adblock plus, ghostery, stealth, social media, etc…).

Turbo mode: when on, the browser blocks multimedia and a placeholder is shown instead (just click to activate), this is quite handy if you are in the middle of poor signal zone (the moon, Sahara or Southeastern train) and still insist on going on media heavy websites. It works actually much better than I expected.
mouse_gestures

You can enable mouse gestures, I don’t really see the point but hey, why not. You have actions like previous/next page, close/reopen tab or refresh. Considering people usually have their personal habits for doing those, I doubt you’ll be using the gesture, plus you’ll need some space to do so (you’ll have to move your bucket of fried chicken out of the way). Obviously, totally useless for laptops.

task managerOne distinctive feature: you have a task manager for your browser. Right click on the top bar to bring a simple task manager when you can kill your extensions, your tabs, and even see the GPU usage. You also have ‘stats for nerd’ if you really want usage details. Note that like Chrome, your extensions run as individual processes. Unlike Chrome, you can actually kill them directly within your browser.

The mobile version of the browser holds turbo mode, syncing, a nice multi tab display but the voice search language is only available in Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian. The address bar is at the bottom.

There are many more small features within the browser that you have yet to discover and play around with (right click and the taskbar icon and see your latest downloads, web page loading bar progress, etc…).

Search engine/Map/Mail

The search engine had good settings features like search per file type, per location, per defined period. All the rest is pretty much what you expect from any search engine. Nothing to blow your mind, and has the annoying tendency of reverting to the Russian language. Use Yandex browser, with Google search engine and you’ll be ok for now.

What about their map you may ask? Well, how to put it nicely? Im trying hard here. It is the worse map I came across, I mean mappy looks like autocad compare to it, that’s how bad it is! It can’t find a post code, nor a home address (when entered mine, it found Kensington Spa Garden, how nice of it). I won’t even bother review their mobile app.

mail_appEmail (@yandex.com) is similar to Gmail interface so I won’t elaborate on it, all the
features you need are there (their 15GB free online storage is called Disk, analytic is called Metric). The mobile app shines through is ease of use (swipe right and release to mark as read, swipe left and select trash or more options), and you have by default some handy filters already setup for you (with attachements and unread).

Yandex is the Russian response to Google. It is definitely on the right path, packing up really good features, nice and unique interface. Mobile versions are equally good and the syncing works perfectly. The search engine needs real improvements to be able to have a resemblance of a competitor. Map doesn’t need improvements, it needs to be revamped if it wants to be usable outside the suburb of Moscow.

Get Yandex browser

I’ll be using it for the next few months so check back for updates and further reviews. 

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