Yandex company blog

Our Intelligent Assistant Alice Turns One

8 November, 15:30

A year ago, Yandex launched its intelligent assistant, Alice, equipped with advanced conversational abilities that uniquely enable users to engage in free-flowing chit-chat.  Alice was first available through our search app, connecting users with many core Yandex services to help navigate their daily routines.  Some of the original services included Search, News, Weather, and Music.  Today, 30 million people use Alice every month on multiple platforms, and the assistant has become more useful and fun through the addition of thousands of new skills.  In honor of one year in production, we wanted to share an update on Alice's growth.

On mobile devices, Alice is available through the Yandex app and Yandex Browser.  In March, Alice was added to Yandex Browser for Windows, making our browser the first to have a voice assistant.  Through the launch of our first hardware product, the Yandex.Station smart speaker, Alice became available to assist users in their homes.  Alice is also used on multiple platforms for transportation, helping users navigate to destinations with voice commands and fewer distractions.  Through the Yandex.Navigator app, Alice assists with directions, while Alice's incorporation into Yandex.Taxi allows users to hail a ride using voice commands.  The vehicles in our market-leading car-sharing service, Yandex.Drive, also employ Alice in the infotainment system to help users with multiple needs in the car.

While Alice excels at helping users better manage their tasks, the assistant can also provide a break from the rigors of the daily grind.  For example, games have become a popular use of the service.  Trivia games serve to both entertain and educate users with fun interactions.  Alice also provides personalized music through integration with Yandex.Music and can help users discover new songs.  With Alice, users can find the name of a song by asking, "Alice, what's playing now?"

Beyond advanced conversational skills, Alice also now has the power of vision with best-in-class reverse image search capabilities.  Users can take a picture of an unfamiliar object, such as a car, animal, or building, and Alice will provide information on the image in near real time.  Within the captured images, Alice can detect text and offer to translate it, as well as find consumer goods on Yandex.Market, Russia's leading price comparison tool.  The skill helps users better connect with the world around them, whether they are traveling and curious about a landmark or spot a pair of shoes to purchase as a gift.

Over the last year, we have continued to add Alice to more Yandex services, but we have also opened up the platform to third-party companies and developers through the Yandex.Dialogues skills platform.  Since introducing Yandex.Dialogues at the end of May, over 1,000 third-party skills have been added to Alice, bringing the total amount of skills to over 28,000.  Users can now book flights, order food, control their smart home, and more.  Yandex actively encourages developers to create new skills for Alice through a competition where they can win monetary rewards for the most useful and exciting skills, as chosen by the Alice team.

Some of the top international companies that have created skills for Alice include Unicredit Bank, ASICS, Reebok, and Papa John's.  Along with skills added by leading Russian brands like S7 Airlines, MegaFon, and Alfa Insurance, users now have thousands of ways to use Alice with the third-party services they use every day.  A great example of this is online banking, which has proven to be one of the most popular skills on Alice.

Thanks to all of our users who have inspired us to develop more capabilities for Alice and to the businesses who have embraced the technology to expand opportunities for their customers.  From the many users who wished Alice a Happy Birthday with the special birthday skill, to the film Hotel Transylvania 3 for featuring Alice in their movie, we are thrilled to see the many ways in which Alice has become part of modern life.  We look forward to another year of growing with Alice!