Today Yandex officially announced its intelligent assistant Alice that will offer the 144 million Russian speakers a conversational digital assistant that integrates Yandex search and other services in one centralized tool.
As reported by Yandex in their official English language blog, “Alice helps users to easily and efficiently navigate their lives in a variety of ways by planning routes to destinations, providing weather forecasts, and sharing the latest news, among a number of other useful tasks.”
Alice integrates the following services: Yandex Search, Yandex.News, Yandex.Maps, Yandex.Weather, Yandex.Music, and Yandex.Transport.
According to the blog, “Yandex integrated search Yandex added a neural network based “chit-chat” engine to Alice that allows users to have free-flowing conversations about anything. It is a unique feature that our users find surprisingly delightful and different from other major voice assistants”
Alice leverages speech recognition and synthesis capabilities from Yandex’s SpeechKit, already widely used in products like Yandex.Navigator and Yandex.Music. Based on word error rate (WER) measurements, SpeechKit provides world’s best accuracy for spoken Russian recognition, which is near human-level accuracy.
Alice’s voice is derived from Tatyana Shitova, the recording actress who dubbed the voice of Samantha in the Russian language version of Spike Jones’ film Her.
Alice is now available in the Yandex search application for iOS and Android and in a beta version of Yandex Assistant for Windows. Alice will also soon be integrated into Yandex.Browser, followed by other Yandex products.