Yandex Brings Alice Voice Assistant to Smart TV Platform
Russian tech search engine giant Yandex has added the Alice voice assistant to its smart TV platform. Alice allows watchers to use voice commands to search and control playback, continuing Yandex’s efforts to make Alice more widely available and continuing a recent burst of new integrations between voice assistants and smart TVs.
Yandex launched its smart TV platform in April, working with nine television manufacturers to bring its search engine and related tech onto the mix of Russian and international TV brands. With the upgrade, those TV owners will be able to use a remote control with a microphone to ask Alice to search for channels and content by title on the Yandex platform as well as Kinopoisk and YouTube. Alice will also essentially turn the TV into a smart display, with the ability to answer questions, share news headlines, and manage smart home devices via the TV’s connection.
Bringing Alice to TVs gives Yandex another angle to compete with its rivals. Yandex has been working to rapidly expand Alice’s abilities this year, adding the ability to pay at restaurants, make bets on sports, and become an art critic. The company recently partnered with Chinses tech firm Huawei to support its Celia voice assistant in Russia using Alice’s platform. Yandex is hoping to use all of these new features to beat Tinkoff Bank’s Oleg voice assistant and Mail.Ru’s Marusya AI, even as they debut new smart speakers and otherwise go after Yandex’s market share.
Yandex is far from alone in thinking that augmenting smart TVs with a voice assistant is a good move. SFR in France and Vodafone in Spain are looking to boost their smart TV userbase with new hardware. Both companies separately partnered with hardware developer Devialet to launch a new smart speaker in the last few weeks in their respective countries. The smart speakers are designed to act independently as well as integrate closely with their smart TV platforms. And Foxtel, Australia’s largest television subscription service, upped its own smart TV options by adding TiVo’s voice search platform. Both Google and Amazon are upping their efforts in the space, too, with a new Chromecast set-top and new Fire TV Stick Lite, respectively. Yandex will have to hope the home country advantage will get people to change the channel to Alice.