Yandex published a beta version of its minimalist browser today that it first revealed back in 2014.
The interface has not changed much on first glance, but the switch from alpha to beta introduces a new set of privacy enhancements and features in the browser.
One of the bigger changes in the beta version is a new Stealth Mode extension that the browser ships with. The extension is off by default but linked directly in the browser's main toolbar.
Stealth Mode blocks online trackers when enabled. It is not an ad-blocker and works similar to the tracking protection feature that Mozilla plans to integrate into its Firefox browser.
The extension is developed by Adguard, a company best know for its ad-blocking extensions for various browsers.
Stealth Mode comes with a set of options of which several are enabled by default. It blocks social widgets and third-party cookies by default for instance, and ships with options to hide the user-agent, IP address and referrer from third parties as well.
Yandex Browser ships with a large number of preinstalled extensions including Adguard, an ad-blocker by the same company, the Web of Trust site reputation tool and a Flash blocker.
All extensions with the exception of the bug reporting extension are off by default.
Another privacy related change is that the browser is not collecting behavioral information on how the browser is being used. The company has created a help page indicating that some features still require the sending of data but provides instructions on how to disable those in the browser.
For instance, crash reporting is enabled by default but can be turned off under Settings > Privacy. The same goes for navigational errors, search and address suggestions, and the browser's phishing and malware protection feature.
The company made additional changes, for instance to the safe browsing technology used by the browser. Instead of sending full urls to Yandex to find out if a site is safe to visit, the browser sends only a hash to make that check.
The browser displays three search engines on start to the user of which one can be selected to become the default search engine.
The new beta version of the Yandex Browser can be downloaded for Windows and Mac OS X from the official project website.
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