We meet Yandex. Phone - now officially

    Introducing Yandeks.Telefon - this is the first smartphone that combines the familiar Yandex applications in a single ecosystem, the center of which is Alice.

    Today we will tell Habr readers why a close relationship with the hardware is so important for any voice assistant. We will explain how the determinant of Yandex numbers differs from a simple search in a catalog of organizations. Recall the machine learning and compare the keyboard. We'll talk about the application catalog and answer other questions.


    For the first time we told the story of Alice and her technology to Habr's readers a year ago. During this time, she settled in many applications of Yandex, in the Station and even in the devices of our partners. Alice learned new skills created by third-party developers using the Dialogs platform. Many users love Alice. Including readers Habra, if you believe the results of the survey from a third-party post .

    Initially, Alice worked only within Yandex applications, but people would like to access it from any screen or even without touching the phone. But this is not easy to do. And not just because of the limitations of operating systems.

    High-quality voice recognition is a difficult task for any modern hardware, so Yandex, like some other industry leaders, uses neural networks in the cloud. But in order for the assistant not only to understand the speech, but also to be able to respond to “Listen, Alice,” something else is needed.

    The device cannot afford to send all the surrounding sounds to the network. It is expensive and long. The engineers solved this problem with a small neural network that works on the device quickly and economically and responds only to the activation phrase. But even such a simple solution needs a special coprocessor that will work out voice scripts, saving the resources of the main CPU. But access to such a “hardware” of any device is closed for third-party applications. So, Alice needs her own smartphone.

    Yandex.Telephone uses the Qualcomm Aqstic WCD9340 chip to work with sound (such a chip is usually placed only in the top version of the platforms). This means that now Alice will hear you on top of any screen of the system. Alice no longer needs to be ashamed of her capabilities - the system no longer limits her. Now she behaves proactively. For example, tell the weather or the situation on the roads right on the main screen. And it will do it not in the form of gray system notifications, but in the format of a dialogue.

    It is not necessary to keep the phone in hand. If you enable Smart Unlock, the assistant will respond, even if the device is just lying somewhere nearby. For example, before going to sleep, you can ask Alice with an closed eye to set the alarm, turn on the sounds of nature, or choose a fairy tale for a child.

    You can talk about Alice for a long time, but let us return to the main function of any phone - the ability to make calls.

    Yandex Handbook

    Yandex specializes in search. Including on the search for organizations. We have a directory that contains information about the organizations of Russia. Their addresses, numbers, mode of operation and customer reviews. These data are replenished and adjusted by both users and organizations.

    46 million people per month are looking for organizations using the Directory. For example, through Maps or simply in Search, to call one click from the results. On Yandex.Telephone, it will be even easier for them to do this. Now you can search for organizations directly in the phone book.

    Directory is also used as a determinant for incoming calls. If the number is in our database, then the Phone user will see the name of the organization. But this is only the tip of the iceberg of our determinant.

    The determinant of Yandex numbers

    In the spring, we told Habr's readers the story of creating a new identifier for Yandex numbers. It uses not only the Directory data, but also explicit feedback from people about incoming calls. These reviews are left by users of the Yandex application for Android. And a lot of them. Therefore, on top of all our knowledge, we use machine learning to classify unknown numbers and warn people about unwanted calls.

    For example, advertising, scammers, polls, or even collectors.

    Yandex Keyboard

    Back in the last century, Yandex learned to search on the Internet, taking into account the morphology and other features of the Russian language. In addition, users of the RuNet every day enter hundreds of millions of queries in Yandex and often make mistakes. Therefore, our Search has learned not only to understand the rules of the language, but also to understand the laws of error.

    We applied this experience in the keyboard of the Phone, which is trained on real and actual user requests. Our keyboard uses machine learning to spell check and generate hints. Special ML-library works exclusively locally and does not send the entered text to the network.

    A small comparison of the tips of the Yandex keyboard (left) with the tips of another popular keyboard for Android:

    For the qualitative application of machine learning are important factors that will be analyzed. The Yandex keyboard takes into account not only adjacent letters and words, but also geometric factors. For example, takes into account exactly which point of the screen the user clicked. So, if a person touched the border of a button, this can be a sign of a miss.

    After taking into account all factors, the keyboard can either agree with the user's option, offer the traditional hint to him, or replace the letter himself. That is, do not correct the word after entering a space, but initially substitute the correct letter! This applies only when there is considerable confidence in the user’s error and allows for faster typing.

    Working with corrections and the language as a whole within the keyboard deserves a separate post, with which we will try to return in the future.

    System and iron

    At the heart of Yandex.Phone is the Android 8.1 operating system, which we plan to update and are already working on version 9.0. Therefore, we carefully treated the components of the Android Open Source Project, so as not to complicate the process of building new versions, and our users could receive updates as soon as possible.

    Search and install new applications is simple. The phone has the Google Play directory and its services necessary for the normal operation of familiar applications. And no restrictions. Want to change search, helper, browser or maps? You are welcome. Use third-party launcher? No problem.

    The price of Yandex.Telephone is 17990 rubles. This is an average price segment. It is massive enough that the device could afford not only units, but not enough to save on the important. For example, we did not refuse NFC, because contactless payment is convenient. Like a fingerprint scanner. For scratch protection, we use Gorilla Glass both in front and in the back. It is also important to recall the Qualcomm Aqstic WCD9340 chip, which not only helps Alice to work with her voice, but also provides a sufficiently high-quality sound. Therefore, it is often saved, and put only in the more expensive segment. We did not save on the sound. By the way, the "jack" by 3.5 mm, too, no one threw. But the "fringe" on the screen we do not.

    Specification by picture

    Yandex.Telephone is the first smartphone that integrates Yandex technologies and solutions of our partners into a single ecosystem, in the center of which Alice is located. We sought to create a useful, convenient and affordable device, without "bikes" and controversial decisions. We believe that we have succeeded. And we will welcome any feedback and ideas from Habr's readers. Thank!

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