This is perhaps the biggest search news to break so far in 2013! Google’s main rival in Russian, Yandex, has built a secret search engine for Facebook.
Yandex is Russia’s biggest search engine and has lent its support Facebook by producing a voice-activated visual search engine codenamed “Wonder”. According to TechCrunch, Wonder is a mobile app that allows people to ask what businesses friends have visited and what content they’ve consumed.
Here’s the full rundown from TechCrunch:
Wonder users can search using voice for things such as “restaurants in Los Angeles my friends have visited.” A horizontal, tile-by-tile scrolling interface lets them view one at a time the restaurants where their Facebook friends have taken photos or checked in. Wonderers can also type to search instead of using voice, or ask to see where a specific friend has gone.
Clicking on a business shows a horizontal stream of photos and recommendations of that place posted by their friends. Another tap brings up Foursquare-powered venue info such as a map, address, and phone number.
Wonder can pull up music that friends have listened to, let you learn about artists thanks to Last.fm-powered profiles, or preview or buy songs from iTunes. There’s a news discovery component, too. You can see news articles recently read by all your friends or a specific friend and read them within the app through an internal browser.
Jeepers! It sounds impressive and just what Facebook needs to put pressure on Google in the search space. There’s no news from either camp yet on whether Facebook will allow this app, especially considering its policy prohibits the use of its data in search engines without permission. However, a Yandex spokesperson did admit, “Yandex is working on mining social data. We are building social products.”
While Yandex is the number one search engine in Russia, commanding 60% of the market, it is yet to break into the US market – perhaps this app could be just the ticket? It looks promising with Facebook striking up a status update licensing deal with Yandex in 2010 to allow public posts from Pages to appear in the Russian search engine. In exchange Facebook got a widget on the Yandex home page that helped it sign up Russian users when it was still fighting off local social network VKontakte.
Facebook certainly doesn’t have any deal like this with Google… Watch this space!