yandex’s new browser is a bold UI

Yandex’s new browser is a
bold UI experiment that takes
the best from Chrome and
Opera.
Russian internet giant Yandex
has launched an alpha version
of its new Chromium-based
browser for Windows and
Mac OS X that incorporates a
few interesting ideas of how
a modern browser might look.
The main difference from the
interface of Chrome or Firefox
is the ultimate minimalism and
the fact that the tabs are
moved to the bottom of the
page.
Explaining its new approach
in a blog post, Yandex stated
that it treats each website as a
standalone application rather
than a few linked pages of
content. That’s why the tabs
are moved all the way to the
bottom to resemble launched
app icons in Windows or Mac
OS X.
It’s all about tabs
When launched for the first
time, the alpha version of
Yandex.Browser automatically
imports bookmarks and other
user data from other
browsers installed in the
system, so the first thing the
user sees is a so-called
Tableau with a list of favorite
websites.
Links and their order can be
easily changed by right-
clicking anywhere on the
Tableau. User can also choose
one of the 12 beautiful
animated background images
for new tabs, or stop the
animation by pressing the
pause button.
Tabs that contain pages from
the same websites are
automatically put next to one
another and given the same
background color. When
inactive, these tabs are
grouped into one with a line
of dots indicating the actual
number of opened pages.
Ultimately uncluttered
There’s not much to see in the
browser except for the tabs.
Trying to get rid of all the
distractions, Yandex decided
not to show the address bar
and bookmarks bar all the
time. What can be seen is the
title bar with settings menu
and the “smart” back button
that returns you not only to a
previous page but also to the
application from which you
opened a link, like Skype or a
PDF viewer.
The title bar is semi-
transparent, which helps it to
mimic to the webpage’s layout
and almost become a part of
the website, which is
apparently the goal Yandex
was after.
By clicking on the website’s
name at the top of the
window, user can get to the
so-called “Flipside” that
consists of the URL and search
bar called SmartBox and a few
basic functions like printing a
page, sharing it in social
networks and finding text on
it.
In the international version,
the SmartBox uses Google
search by default, while
Yandex is not even in the list
of possible search engines to
use on the settings page. For
the Russian version, however,
the default search engine is
obviously Yandex.
In addition to basic
functionality, Yandex.Browser
is capable of working with
extensions. There’s a list of a
few of them written by in-
house developers, including
Turbo mode that Yandex
received from the Norway-
based Opera browser, which
is still quite popular in Russia.
Turbo mode reroutes traffic
via Yandex’s servers that
compress it and allow faster
browsing for users with poor
bandwidth.
Low number of native
extensions is compensated by
the fact that users can install
any apps and add-ons
intended for Chrome and
Opera right from the
respective web stores.
The only problem with
installing apps from Chrome
Web Store is that it appears
that the only way to launch
them is through the SmartBox,
as they’re nowhere else to be
found. However, that’s a
minor thing you’d expect to
see in an alpha version.
At the moment users of
Yandex.Browser are also
unable to reorder tabs or pin
them as they would in
Chrome. Moreover, sometimes
it’s hard to understand at a
glance, which of the brightly
colored tabs is active at the
moment.
But all in all, the browser
seems to be good to go as an
option for daily internet
activities. Its additional
features include mouse
gestures, notifications from
Facebook and Twitter,
document/e-book viewer, safe
browsing, and webpage
translator, which puts it on
par with today’s alternatives.
It’s hard to tell how long it can
take to get used to the tabs’
position, though it shouldn’t
be much more than a few
days.

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