Russian search engine Yandex debuts its own voice assistant, Alice

yandex
The Russian search engine known as Yandex has officially launched Alice — its own voice assistant. Alice only speaks Russian, but is specifically built to interact with others, understand users’ requests, and provide answers to their questions.

Yandex has been around for quite some time — branching out into a real-time bidding platform, language translation, and even offering antivirus software. Now, it’s thrown Alice into the mix of capabilities.

To create its latest voice assistant, Yandex first released a beta version back in May to test out ideas and see how users responded. In addition, Alice is equipped with a neural network based “chat” engine to allow users to have conversations about any topic. Similar to Google Assistant — and now Siri — you can either speak to Alice verbally or type out your questions instead.

Alice is integrated into the Yandex search app, but it will only speak to you in Russian. Alice has been specifically trained to understand, listen, and speak to users through natural language. Even if you were to ask Alice, “What’s the weather like in Moscow, followed by “What about Peter?” — the voice assistant will automatically understand you mean St. Petersburg.

The voice assistant specifically uses speech recognition and synthesis capabilities from SpeechKit — Yandex’s toolkit used on products such as Navigator and Music. Since the Russian language is extremely complex when it comes to grammar and morphology, SpeechKit has been able to provide the best accuracy for Russian recognition.

To make sure Alice’s voice sounds as authentic and natural as possible, its voice was derived from the well-known film Her — by Spike Jonze. Yandex specifically used the recording actress who dubbed the voice of Samantha in the Russian language version of the film.

Alice is available for use in the Yandex search app — available for download on both iOS and Android. Aside from Alice, you can check the weather forecast and traffic, follow events in Russia or other countries, and receive email notifications. Even though Alice is only available in Russian, the app itself works in Ukrainian and Turkish as well.

The company also plans on releasing a beta version of Yandex Assistant for Windows. Alice will soon be released on the Yandex mobile browser and other Yandex products as well.

Mobile

North Focals smartglasses discount cuts the price by a massive $400

Canadian startup North is hoping smartglasses will be the next big wearable. After announcing its new Focals smartglasses in late 2018, the company opened product showrooms in Brooklyn and Toronto and has made its first shipment.
Smart Home

Language barrier? Psh. Here's how to make your Google Home an ace translator

You can now use interpreter mode on your Google Home devices. This means, you can use your Google Home device to translate conversations in real-time. Here's how to use interpreter mode.
Home Theater

Everything to know about Sling TV: Channels, pricing, and more

Sling TV has grown a great deal since its launch. Now there are more channels and more packages to chose from, with prices to match, and more is being added all the time. Everything you need to know is right here.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Computing

Windows 7 is still immensely popular. Is it really better than Windows 10?

With the end of support of Windows 7 approaching, have you been holding off on upgrading to Windows 10? In this guide, we give look at some of the biggest differences between the most popular operating systems.
Mobile

Worried about extra data charges? Here's how to check your usage on an iPhone

It's common to get a little nervous about nearing data limits. Keep your peace of mind by checking how much data your iPhone is using. Our guide on how to check data usage on an iPhone helps you stay in control.
Mobile

Exclusive: Take a look at what a next-generation 5G phone will look like

With 5G phones debuting at MWC in mere days, there is discussion about whether they will be clunky bricks that die after a few hours? A reference design from Qualcomm offerrs a glimpse of the future: This is what 5G phones will look like.
Mobile

New Apple patent hints clamshell-style foldable phone may be in the works

Apple has filed a patent for a foldable phone that suggests the company could be following in the footsteps of the likes of Samsung and Huawei. The patent describes a clamshell-style foldable phone with two separate sections.
Mobile

Xiaomi Mi 9 will be one of the first phones with monster Snapdragon 855 chip

Xiaomi's next major smartphone release will be the Mi 9, and the company hasn't held back in giving us a good look at the phone, revealing the design, the camera, and a stunning color.
Wearables

Galaxy Watch Active isn't official yet, but you can see it in Samsung's own app

Samsung may be about to resurrect its Sport line of smartwatches under a new name: The Galaxy Watch Sport Active. Leaks and rumors are building our picture of the device at the moment.
Mobile

Stop buying old tablets, says Samsung, buy the new Galaxy Tab S5e instead

Samsung has launched the Galaxy Tab S5e -- the E is for Essential -- a reasonably priced tablet that includes many of the features we like from the Tab A 10.5, and the Tab S4. Here's what you need to know.
Mobile

Bag yourself a bargain with the best budget tablets under $200

The battle for your budget tablet affections is really ramping up. Which tablet, costing less than $200, should be commanding your attention? We take a look at some different options for the budget-conscious.
Computing

What is Wi-Fi 6? Here's a look at the next evolution of the wireless standard

We're exploring the new naming convention for wireless standards, how it affects the devices you buy, and what the upcoming Wi-Fi generation is changing for the better.
Home Theater

Samsung accidentally leaks its new Galaxy Buds ahead of launch

It's been all but certain that Samsung would launch a successor to its Gear IconX wireless earbuds soon, but a newly leaked photo and recent FCC certification document seems to indicate that the debut is very close.