The Oban Blog

Facebook overshadows Yandex’s app debut in US

Yandex, the leading search engine in Russia, has its sights set on the US market with the launch of their new voice-based social searching app, the epically-named “Wonder”.

This ‘experimental’ search tool, developed with the typical American iPhone user in mind, was launched on the 24th of January and responds to users’ spoken queries, displaying results from your social connections in a handy horizontal format. Users are recommended news to read, places to visit, songs to listen to and more based on information posted by their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Foursquare. Other tools connected through Facebook, such as Spotify and various newspapers’ social readers, are also indexed by Wonder.

According to, Russia’s most-used search engine debuted their new baby with a US-only launch but are planning to expand to Russia and Turkey before long.

“It’s a very smart move which shows that Yandex is testing other potential areas for future growth,” said Konstantin Belov, an analyst at UralSib Financial. “Yandex wants to utilize its technology alongside the most popular social websites and investors appreciate that,” Belov underlined.

But just hours after its release, Facebook unexpectedly blocked the app from accessing information on its network. RIA-Novosti announced that Yandex representatives were in talks with Facebook regarding their reasons, with a view to finding a solution.  Apparently, all new users trying to register on Wonder with their Facebook account received an error message.  Meanwhile, information from Twitter, Foursquare and even Facebook-owned Instagram was updating without any problems.

Technology portal TechCrunch tried their best to explain Facebook’s measures; experts from the site stressed the platform’s policy, which specifies that app developers “must not include data obtained from us in any search engine or directory without our written permission.”

In recent weeks, the American company has blocked connections from both Twitter’s micro-video service Vine and smartphone-based walkie-talkie app Voxer, indicating “a trend of Facebook aggressively protecting its data.” Many rumours point to Facebook launching a social search app similar to Wonder at their upcoming press conference.