Yandex Reportedly Developing a Visual Search Engine for Facebook

Yandex, a tech giant in Russia often dubbed as the “Google of Russia,” is reportedly working on a voice-activated visual search engine for Facebook. The mobile app, codenamed “Wonder,” allows users to ask what businesses their Facebook friends have visited and what they have ordered.

TechCrunch revealed details on the alpha version of Wonder, which was built into an iOS device. Users can voice out their queries such as “restaurants in Los Angeles my friends have visited.” The search result yields a horizontal, tile-by-tile scrolling interface that displays the restaurants one at a time. These establishments display were based on where their friends on Facebook have take photos or checked in. Users can also type to search instead of using their voice.

Clicking on a result entry displays a stream of photos and recommendations of that establishment that their friends posted. Tap the business again and it leads the user to a Foursquare-powered interface that includes information such as a map, address, and phone number.

Wonder bears similarities to Facebook’s recently launched “Nearby” feature, but those who have seen Wonder disagree. “Wonder isn’t just for local businesses,” TechCrunch wrote. “Wonder can pull up music that friends have listened to, let you learn about artists thanks to profiles, or preview or buy songs from iTunes.”

The mobile app also has a news discovery component, wherein users can see news articles read by their Facebook friends or even a specific friend. Users can read the articles within the app through an internal browser.

The question now is whether Facebook will allow such an app to become available. Its policy prohibits unauthorized use of its data in search engines, not to mention that it has some resemblance to Facebook’s “Nearby.” A spokesperson for Yandex “can’t confirm and can’t comment on Wonder,” but has admitted that the company is “working on mining social data” as they are “building social products.”

Source: TechCrunch
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