What internet browser are you using to read this post?
It wasn’t so long ago that we did not really have a choice in this regard. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was more or less our only option, at least that’s from what I can remember. Now, there seem to be a variety of options available, from Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera Browser, and Naver Whale Browser. Yes, I did say Whale browser. No, it isn’t this whale, I mean the web browser Whale! If you never heard of it, then you’re at the right place. But before I start introducing the browser, I just want to be sure that you know about Naver.
You know how Koreans seem to have our own way of doing everything? Well, we have our own “Google” too. It’s a portal website that everyone in Korea uses, called Naver. If you don’t know what it is, I wrote an article on it previously, you can check it out here. To quickly summarize what it is, it is a web portal where you can use as a search engine, read the news, watch videos, access email and more. Oh, and did I mention Webtoons? Naver is one of the biggest player in the Webtoons Market in Korea. I also wrote an article on that here (self-advertising hehe). Anyway, I apologize for digressing. Back to the web browser. Naver has revealed a new web browser called Whale. It is based on Google’s open sourced Chromium. It is currently in beta, and only available for Windows PC. So, with numerous well-established options available, why would people opt to use Whale?
Here’s what Naver is advertising as some key features of the Whale Browser:
Switching between tabs is cumbersome. Naver says that the Whale browser makes multitasking much easier. How does it achieve this? You are able to open two tabs side-by-side within the browser itself. In other browsers, you either have to shift between tabs or have two windows open side-by-side. The difference in Naver’s browser is that you are able to have tabs side-by-side natively within the browser.
2) Advanced recognition abilities
There seem to be a variety of features that Naver is touting as “recognition technology.” It seems that the web browser is able to recognize texts in images, which is known as optical character recognition (OCR). In addition, you can highlight foreign currencies to have the browser convert them to your desired currency. You can translate other languages too.
3) “Smart Pop-up”
You know how pop-ups are annoying? The Whale browser is able to compile all the pop-up windows into smaller windows and move them to the side. You can scroll between different pop-up windows, and even allow or disable them.
4) Sidebar Tools
While browsing, remember that time when you had to open the calculator? Naver seem to have integrated a few key tools that people often use when browsing, such as the calculator, clock, currency conversion, unit conversion (e.g. pound–>kilogram) , etc.
5) Mobile web browsing
Have you ever opened a mobile webpage on the desktop? Due to the bigger screen and different aspect ratio, you will have noticed that everything seem to be expanded horizontally. Naver’s Whale Browser opens a smaller window for mobile webpages, and you can browse the desktop webpage and mobile webpage, in a smaller window, together. To be honest, I am not sure how practical this is in real life usage. I can’t think of a situation where you need to have a mobile webpage open on your computer. Nevertheless, it is one of the features that the Naver Whale Browser has.
It seems that you can customize the browser according to your interest. You can customize the color of the menu bar, or even incorporate skins of your choice to the browser.
7) “Battery Saver” and “Memory Saver”
It seems that there are integrated functions of battery saving capabilities, and memory management. Naver says that it will reduce battery consumption and use less memory.
After using the browser, I think that Naver has heavily geared this browser towards the Korean market. Many of the features seem to be convenient features that target how Koreans browse the web. The features also do not standout enough, in my opinion, that you would use Whale in lieu of other established browsers. In addition, the features offered-such as translation- are all Naver’s own service. A search function in the sidebar also utilizes Naver’s search engine, not Google’s. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I do not think that this browser was developed to compete in the worldwide market. Rather, it is something that Naver hopes will catch on in Korea. However, keep in mind that the browser is still in beta. Also, I found that some features were quite useful. Putting myself in the role of the average Korean internet user, many of the features were indeed convenient. The internet browsing experience also did not differ to much with Google’s Chrome, since it does use Google’s Chromium source code. It would be interesting to see what this browser ends up becoming. Based on my experience, I think that it could be a great local alternative to Google Chrome to Korean users.