It seems that AI voice assistants are the new chess pieces in mobile superiority so, naturally, Yandex is jumping in on the game. Regarded as the Google of Russia, and simultaneously the greatest threat to Google in Russia, Yandex has an equivalent to nearly every Google service and feature available. So it was really only a matter of time before it came out with its own Google Assistant counterpart. Meet Alice (not the Resident Evil Alice), the smart assistant that will perfectly understand you. If you speak Russian, that is.
One of the biggest problems with voice-activated and voice-controlled AI assistants is that they are of course at the mercy of the languages they support. Not a problem for English (unless you happen to be Samsung), but English is hardly the only language that smartphone users speak. Fortunately for Russians, local hero Yandex has the clout, the guts, and the resources to build something for their own needs.
Alice was built not only to speak and understand the Russian language fluently but also to understand local slang. So while you can ask it in a natural language what the weather is in Moscow, you can follow it up with a question about “Peter”, which it will understand to be referring to St. Petersburg.
Unsurprisingly, Yandex advertises its own neural network technologies that act as the brain behind Alice. Using that, Yandex built a “chit-chat” engine so that you can make small talk with Alice about anything and everything. Yandex boasts that it’s an entertaining and fulfilling experience that even the likes of Google Assistant don’t offer.
Alice, of course, integrates with Yandex’s ecosystems of apps and services, including Weather, News, Maps, Transport, and Music. Alice is available from the Yandex Search app on iOS and Android and, soon, Yandex Assistant for Windows. Yandex plans on eventually making Alice present in the Yandex.Browser as well as its other products, making it the AI glue that holds the companies services together.