Huawei voice assistant to rival Amazon Alexa and Google outside China


Huawei is working on its own voice assistant that works outside of China, potentially pitting it against software produced by Google and Amazon.

In China, Huawei has its own voice assistant called Xiaoyi which operates in its smart speaker called the AI Cube and its smartphones. But it is only for the Chinese market.

Now the technology giant is working on a voice assistant that will work outside China.

“We are using our own in China, in (the) future we will also have our own outside of China,” Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei’s consumer business, told CNBC in an exclusive interview.

“In the beginning, we are mainly using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa” for its AI Cube and smartphones, he said. “We need more time to build our AI (artificial intelligence) services … Later we will expand this outside of China.”

The CEO made clear that it will continue working in partnership with both Amazon and Google. However, any step outside China could put it in direct competition with the two U.S. tech giants, both of which have their voice assistants integrated with various hardware.

Amazon and Google were not immediately available for comment.

Yu did not say what language the voice assistant would use outside of China, nor when it would be available.

Voice is seen by consumer technology companies as a key way for users to interact with products, particularly “smart” internet-connected gadgets. Many of the speakers on the market like the Amazon Echo or Huawei’s AI Cube are seen as a hub in the home that connects to appliances that can be controlled by voice.

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