Yandex tries to improve privacy features of its new browser

A newly-released beta version is available for Windows and Mac OS

Yandex' browser offers three search engine options dependent on a users' location

Yandex' browser offers three search engine options dependent on a users' location

Russian Internet company Yandex has released a beta version of its new browser that the company says is more privacy-friendly than an earlier build.

Unlike an alpha version released last year, the Yandex.Browser beta doesn't send usage statistics to the company by default. However, other information will still be shared, so it remains to be seen whether the privacy safeguards will be compelling enough to attract a substantial number of users, as the company hopes.

Yandex, which runs Russia's most popular search engine, decided to make this beta version more privacy friendly than the alpha in response to feedback from users in Germany, Canada and the U.S.

The company already has a browser, which it launched in 2012 and which is mostly used in its home market. The company refers to that existing browser as "Classic" and offers it for Mac OS, Windows, Android and iOS.

Yandex wants the new browser under development to attract more international users. "It is an attempt to get some traction outside of Russia with something different than search," said Yandex spokesman Vladimir Isaev.

The new browser doesn't capture web usage data by default. However, users can opt in and tick a box to send anonymous browser usage statistics to the company to help improve services.

The browser also offers a stealth mode that can be activated by clicking a button and that blocks analytics cookies, sharing plugins and other trackers.

Users whose computers don't run Linux can hide their true OS from the sites they visit by checking an option in the browser settings that identifies their OS falsely as Linux. Yandex believes this is a useful option for users because Linux users are rarely targeted by advertisers.

The stealth mode functionality was developed by the team behind Moscow based ad-blocker AdGuard, and its code was made available on Github. Stealth mode lets users whitelist sites and determine which tracking methods they want to block.

However, the browser shares some information with search engines in anonymized form. To generate search suggestions and offer instant results without redirecting the user to a search results page, the browser has to share search terms with the search engine as the user enters them into the browser, Yandex said.

Other features like sending crash reports or resolving web navigation errors that also require the sharing of user information remain switched on by default too, Yandex said, adding that these can all be disabled.

When the browser is launched for the first time, users can choose from three search engines. The options depend on a users' location and in the Netherlands it showed Google, Bing and Yandex as options.

The browser has a minimalist design that lets a website almost fill the whole screen. It has a URL and search bar at the top of the screen while tabs are grouped at the bottom.

The beta of Yandex.Browser was made available for Windows and Mac OS. It comes in 15 languages including English, Spanish, German, French, Italian and Portuguese.

Like the "Classic" browser, the new one is based on Chromium and Opera Turbo.

Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to loek_essers@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags internetYandex

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Loek Essers

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?