Yandex’s voice search is called Alice. She can understand Russian, and she can speak Russian and English. Alice is an evolution of Yandex.Bing, which was the first virtual assistant in Russia and powered by neural network technology.
The new Alice is more capable of understanding spontaneous human speech, recognizes words with a different intonation (which are absent from the vocabulary of the old technology), and understands context better – for example she knows that “14 квартиры недорого” means “cheap apartments 14. But she does not know what “14” means.
Yandex has launched an initiative named “01011000” which aims to improve the recognition of Russian, English and Chinese voice search queries. Yandex can take voice samples in these languages and provide training data for the neural network, so that it will improve the accuracy of generating responses in these languages.
It is not the first time Yandex has participated in such an initiative. In 2014 it joined forces with Microsoft to develop Alice and Bing, which in 2016 became a separate virtual assistant. There have also been joint efforts between Yandex and other international experts since 2015 on the creation of Alice with Russian-speaking users in mind.