Yandex is about to enter the smart speaker market. As reported by TechCrunch, the Russian search engine and tech company is planning to launch a smart speaker later this summer. Known as Yandex Station, it follows in the footsteps of Google Home and Amazon Alexa by supporting voice commands.
Yandex Station’s virtual assistant, Alice, features more than 4,000 skills. Users can ask for directions, find bus tickets, order pizza, cast to their TV and more. While 4,000 skills may sound like a lot, it pales in comparison to Amazon Alexa, which reportedly now has more than 30,000 skills. Like its Alexa counterpart, though, Yandex will likely update its flagship smart speaker with new skills in the future.
One of the greatest features of Yandex Station is its ability to stream media to a TV or computer monitor. If a user wants to watch Netflix but doesn’t have a Chromecast, Fire TV stick or any other streaming device, he or she can use Yandex Station. The upcoming smart speaker supports both wireless Bluetooth and wired HDMI connections. Once connected to the user’s TV or display device, he or she can stream media from their preferred app.
Considering that Yandex released the Alice app for mobile devices last year, it was only a matter of time until the Russian tech company launched an Alice-powered smart speaker. The Russian tech company has confirmed that it will launch Yandex Station later this summer, with a starting retail price of 9,990 rubles ($160).
In addition to Yandex Station, Yandex is also launching a new premium subscription service for its products. Known as Yandex Plus, it’s available for 169 rubles ($275) and includes perks like access to Yandex’s streaming music service, 10 percent off Yandex taxi rides, free delivery in select selections, ad-free media viewing on KinoPoisk and an extra 10GB of free cloud storage. All Yandex Station purchases will include one free year of Yandex Plus.
Founded in 2000, Yandex is the largest tech company and search engine in Russia. Statistics show that 53 percent of Russian internet users prefer Yandex, compared to 43 percent with Google. Both Yandex Station and Yandex Plus are launching in Russia. It’s unknown if they’ll make their way to the United States.