Tencent launches AI assistant app Yuanbao, linking it to WeChat ecosystem

by micheljwpn


Tencent’s Yuanbao app. Credit: Tencent

Tencent on Thursday launched an AI assistant app called Yuanbao, signaling the Chinese tech giant’s belated entry into the highly competitive artificial intelligence assistant field with an independent entry based on the company’s Hunyuan foundation model.

Yuanbao integrates artificial intelligence-based search, summaries, and writing competencies, and can be used to analyze documents, and basically engage with people based on prompts.

Why it matters: The opening of the independent app shows that Tencent has finally chosen to face competition head-on, several months after AI offerings from its rivals. Baidu’s ERNIE Bot has already amassed 200 million users, while ByteDance’s Doubao currently boasts over 26 million monthly active users.

Details: Tencent’s Yuanbao distinguishes itself from Baidu, Alibaba, and ByteDance’s products by offering direct access to content from the WeChat ecosystem, the company’s super app with nearly 1.4 billion monthly active users, which the firm says will give it superiority in terms of content timeliness and richness.

  • WeChat, the all-in-one app, features a fan page functionality similar to Facebook’s, known as Official Accounts, where individual creators or enterprises can publish articles or information to subscribed users. The content cannot be directly accessed through mainstream search engines such as Baidu.
  • Since its launch in September 2023, the parameter scale of Tencent’s Hunyuan large model has been upgraded from hundreds of billions to trillions, according to Tencent, and the pre-training corpus has increased to 70 trillion tokens.
  • Based on the published guidelines of the Yuanbao app, the consumer-oriented assistant currently offers multiple AI agents, similar to GPTs, which can be selected for various functions, including English-speaking practice, daily life translation, and avatar generation.

Context: Last week, Tencent announced that it had made the lite version of its Hunyuan model free to access, while the price of its more powerful version has been reduced by 50% to 87.5%, as the firm joined a fresh price war among major Chinese tech companies.

  • Tencent’s announcement comes just hours after iFlytek said its SparkLite API would be permanently free. In an interview with TechNode at the BEYOND Expo 2024, the firm’s vice president Wang Wei mentioned that the decision was made because “iFlytek should have a sense of social responsibility as a major company by making [AI] technology available for broader applications.”

Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.


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