It was reported just a few days ago that China’s online retail giant Alibaba was going to launch an Amazon Echo rival of its own in the near future. The company has made the official announcement today. Alibaba’s smart speaker is called Tmall Genie. The smart speaker comes with Alibaba’s own virtual personal assistant much like Alexa in the Amazon Echo.
Echo hardware and other third-party devices come with Alexa baked in, but the Tmall Genie doesn’t. It has a homegrown assistant that’s called AliGenie. It offers functionality similar to what Alexa can do for Amazon Echo users.
The AliGenie assistant can stream music, read the news, search the web, and can even control smart home devices on the user’s command. It also has a wide variety of other skills up its sleeve as well. To get it working, users just have to say “Tmall Genie” in Madarin.
Since Alibaba online marketplace Tmall has lent its branding to this device, it’s not surprising to see that the Tmall Genie is capable of ordering items from the Alibaba-owned Tmall online shop. Voiceprint recognition support is present which means that users that are authorized are the only ones that can place orders.
The design of the device itself is a bit similar to the Amazon Echo. It has a cylinder with a light facing downwards that illuminates when the device is activated. Alibaba has released the Tmall Genie in a limited beta only for around $73. Those who want to take part in this beta and get their hands on a unit soon can sign up for the beta initiative starting today.