The Yandex Station is the company's first foray into hardware elements, and yes, the Yandex speakers have an assistant. While Amazon has Alexa, Yandex has Alice -- a Russian-speaking assistant developed by the company's in-house engineers.
Alice has been available on mobile devices since she launched in October 2017. Tens of millions of Russians use Alice for a variety of purposes, Yandex noted in a press statement. Alice will also see an expansion when Yandex debuts its connected car platform later this year after the program merged with Uber.
"With the introduction of Yandex.Station, we are excited to bring our intelligent assistant from mobile devices into the Russian home," said Konstantin Kruglov, Director of Experimental Products at Yandex. "Our high-quality smart speaker offers Russian users the benefits of a highly localized intelligent assistant, unique options for audio and video streaming, and superior sound quality."
Alice has a variety of skills -- over 4,000 at the time of the press announcement -- including looking for cheap flights, ordering food, and moving video elements to a television.
The speaker itself includes seven microphones that will pick up a user's voice from anywhere in the room. The Yandex Station also includes a removable speaker grill so users can further customize how they hear the audio coming through the speaker system. The speaker has two 20mm 10W tweeter drivers, one 85mm 30W woofer driver, two 95mm passive radiators. It's Bluetooth-compatible and measures 14 cm х 14 cm х 23 cm.
Currently, the Yandex Station is only available in Russia. Its current price is listed at 9,990 rubles (approximately $160 USD). The Yandex Station will make it easier for Russians to access a regionally-adapted speaker system rather than waiting for a Google Home or Amazon speaker.
Anyone who purchases the Yandex will also get a free one-year subscription to the Yandex Plus bundle. That combines a variety of other Yandex services like music streaming, their taxi service, and Yandex Drive.