Friday, August 4, 2017

Naver Whale browser now in English

Naver's web browser "Whale" is now available in English.

As of the latest beta version, the browser interface is nearly 100% in English. I'm talking menus, settings, everything. Not only that, but the Whale Store is in English and the formerly-defunct English version of the Whale download site is back and totally revamped.

Naver Whale English download page. Image: Naver

If you've been curious about Naver's crack at a Chrome-based browser, here's your chance to dive in deep. But you know me, I love screenshots, so let's take a look.

Naver Whale browser in English

New tab page

Naver Whale - New tab page (Eng.)
Overall, it looks pretty good. Above is the new tab page. Not a whole lot there, but you can see the URL bar tooltips, as others, are in English now.

Context menus

Whale's context menu (Eng.)

All (right-click) context menus are in English. Now we can see that "Belli" really is the name of the "whale tail icon" built-in note storage app (Naver's version of Google Keep). I mean come on, obviously you're storing stuff in the "belly" of the whale, right? Maybe they just went for a stylization. Anyway have fun, Jonah.

Site translation via Papago

Built-in Papago translation of page to English 

Once you're set to English, pages in Korean (like this Naver News entertainment article) will show a little Korean flag in the menu bar, next to the capture tool. Click it, and the browser will offer to translate the page into your language (and give the option of always auto-translating). Here you see the icon is a US/UK flag, and the page has been fully translated.

I think this is really a key competitive feature of Whale, and likely the real reason Papago recently upped their character limit for translations. Good, because Naver's oldie Site Translator sucked. With this, Whale can handle smooth and accurate Korean-to-English translations on-par with Chrome. I can see the legions of loyal K-pop/Hallyu fans adopting Whale en-masse now. Let's see if my prediction proves right. You read it here first.


Whale sidebar Music Player gadget

The little widget/mobile site tools in the Sidebar got translated too, including Belli and Bookmarks and even the Music Player. This is another feature that could potentially be attractive to K-pop fans. I don't have an account with these services so couldn't try it. My friends and I have, *cough*, other ways of getting music. Ahoy.


Whale settings page in English

All the settings are in English too. Here you can see the language settings. They're all like this. Go ahead and dig deep. You can see the dreaded "Plugin compatibility mode" there for all your online banking .exe and Active X files. There are a very few minor elements still in Korean, but I promise you won't even notice them.

Whale Store 

Whale Store in English

Even the Whale extensions store got an English facelift, and noticeably more extensions since the last time I checked it out. See that extension there about popular girl group Twice? Did I mention I think K-wave fans are going to be interested? Otherwise, I don't see many real stand-outs here, but it does now offer extension import/export. I don't have time to see if Chrome extensions can be manually added (some, like Google Keep and Google Calendar, can't be added via Chrome store). I doubt anyone cares too.

How to set it to English

Before you complain that yours is still in Korean, note that you're going to need to make sure you're running the latest version ( beta). I was still running 9.34 so didn't have the language change option.

If you're already running Whale in Korean, there's no need to download a new installer. Either wait for it to auto-update, or visit the info page (whale://about/) and it will download the update and show a button to restart the browser.

Whale "About" page: update downloaded and ready to apply

If you're a Mac user, that's it! It will automatically change to English based on your system language settings. Damn you, Apple users, and your simplistic ways.

If you're part of the PC master race, then after you've updated:

  1. Go to Settings > Webpage > Language (of course in Korean it's 설정 > 웹페이지 > 언어).
    Or if you're using Whale right now just go to this link: whale://settings/webpage#language-setting
  2. Drag the English (영어) option up to the top of the list. Not American English (미국영어), just the plain basic English. 
  3. Click the 3-dot menu icon on the right
  4. Click the checkbox (it says to set this language as the browser interface)
  5. Restart browser (you can easily do it by clicking the 재시작 후 적용 message that appears)

Changing the language settings

By the way, you may notice that under the 언어 추가 setting you can add a large variety of other languages. These are pretty useless right now (they just indicate to the website which version of a page you prefer; it doesn't affect the browser). But it's possible the corresponding interfaces could be added later. Maybe we'll see a Chinese, Japanese, Indonesian, or Spanish version of Whale soon.

Why use Whale?

Over on Reddit, there was talk about why somebody would want to bother using this Whale browser, instead of Chrome. I'll repost it here, edited it a bit for clarity.

It really depends on your browsing habits. You might prefer Whale if:

  1. You do a lot of online banking, shopping, or appointment reservations in Korean on Korean sites. Whale has a special "compatibility mode" that helps facilitate plug-ins designed for IE to run on this Chromium browser. Another called "Swing browser" had this feature too. If you're just a normal expat just accessing your bank account, and your bank offers a Chrome plug-in or some .exe file, then you might be OK. But many more minor Korean shopping sites don't have anything like that, so Whale can fill in that gap until all Korean sites go plug-in free (don't hold your breath).
  2. You prefer Papago over Google Translate. Papago is actually decent and has potential. Again, it's more a personal preference.
  3. You really like multi-tasking. I'm fine with just keeping YouTube/Facebook in another tab, but I have to admit having them pinned on the side is helpful when they're essentially acting as background noise anyway for me. And for doing internet research, it helps to be able to take notes right there in the sidebar while seeing the page you're on.
  4. You use the Naver ecosystem already anyway, so all your visited sites, bookmarks, and logins are already synced there.

Whale has a specific audience in mind. It's not going to be a Chrome killer, but it can be a worthwhile Chrome replacement for certain users (i.e. mainly real Koreans). The English version can be a ploy to get more international K-pop fans into the Naver ecosystem, which can then data-mine their history/bookmarks for serving up ads, since that demographic is sometimes obsessed with buying Korean goods.

Download Whale now

If you don't have Whale yet, you can download it from the English download site here:

Or click the cute button bellow.

The installer will run in English, so no problem. Once installed, you can create and sign-in to a Naver account to sync all your settings. All of that in English. Boy, times have changed.

By the way, did I mention Whale may find a receptive audience among K-wave fans? Well Naver seems to agree and ran an entire little SNS contest to encourage (Korean) fans to K-popify their Whale installation

More about Whale

If you want to know more about what Whale is and what it can do, you check out some of my other recent posts:

Or these news sources:


  1. It's an amazing browser. I love the features.... like highlight text, right click, "play selection" and it reads you the text.
    Granted, I can already do this with my Mac with a little accessibility setup... but the voice on Naver Whale is more realistic.

    The features in Whale are so well thought out. And the browser is much more stylish than Opera or Chrome. Not as stylish as Safari on Mac, but Safari is very simple and lacking in features.

    1. It does have its charms, and you're right it's a very nice modern browser. I personally find it a little cluttered, but otherwise it does have some nice features. I think it would be most useful for people who interact with Korean sites often, as the built-in Papago translation is nice.

  2. Do you maybe know if Whale Android is available in English? I've been poking around a bit but can't find 웹페이지 in settings there. Although to be honest I am not good at spotting Korean

    1. It looks like most of the settings/features are still in Korean for the mobile version. What setting are you looking for?