During my recent online travels I came across Yandex, which is Russia’s answer to Google. It’s the largest search engine in Russia and competes with Google in pursuit of a hefty market share in Web searching. No telling who’s beating who so far but I guess it depends on who you ask.
I’ve spent some time this week getting familiar with Yandex and and am currently checking out some of its services. I’ve already used it at work to do some searches related to my job and have gotten some decent results. Using a different search engine other than Google is already a breath of fresh air.
The Yandex web browser is eerily similar to Google Chrome, same simplistic interface, same options menu. But the Yandex browser but has some extra features such as the Turbo mode that kicks in when your Internet connection gets slower than usual. It also has a separate window for links to your favorite web sites that appear as widgets that update themselves in real time. The browser’s setup process was very swift and thorough. When I ran it for the first time, it imported all my settings from Firefox, and I mean all my settings, right down to the last web page I visited with Firefox. I was up and running with the Yandex web browser in no time at all.
Yandex Disk is an online backup service that syncs your local folders to the cloud. It started me with 3 GB of storage space with a potential to reach 10 GB when I install the desktop app and get a few friends to sign up. I’m using it to back up my stuff at the moment. [UPDATE: After writing this post, I followed the last step to get the 10 GB of space and posted a tweet with a link to Yandex Disk. It worked and I now have the full 10 GB of space to play with.]
And of course there’s free e-mail. It’s just your basic webmail interface with the ability to save attachments to the cloud. Although the e-mail addresses there end with yandex.com, I was up for a challenge and decided to see if I could get an e-mail address ending with yandex.ru instead. I used Google Translate, some patience and some trickery to navigate through the Russian version of the signup page and was rewarded with my own yandex.ru e-mail address. Major coolness to the nth degree. I would think that the normal signup process is in English and much quicker.
It’s nice to see foreign search providers reach out to the rest of the world like this and remind us that that, contrary to popular belief, Google is not the only search engine in the world.