Prominent Chinese multinational conglomerate Tencent is all set to release its own smart speaker under its Tencent Smart Innovation division and has reportedly teamed up with WeChat to make that happen. Set to be marketed as the Tencent TingTing, this won't actually be the company's first foray into intelligent voice recognition or into A.I. It also isn't very likely that TingTing will be hyper-successful outside of China. However, it could give the company a head start in its home region, with several other companies likely to launch their own devices in the region later. Moreover, the integration of China's popular multi-purpose messaging and social platform - namely, WeChat - could give it a significant edge when it does launch.
That's because WeChat includes a full range of services from making payments to sending text messages. So the inclusion of just that one service will allow users where the social platform is most prominent to gain a lot of functionality. They'll likely be able to send text messages, post to the platform, access the network's localized "City Services," and send or receive money with voice commands without the hassle of wires. Each of those should be useful but the City Services would provide a particular advantage in China. That allows for users to interact with local businesses across at least 27 Chinese cities, with the capability to book appointments, pay fees or bills, and book modes of transportation. That's already a substantial number of capabilities for any smart speaker to ship with, without consideration for other IoT features TingTing will likely include.
There are not a lot of other details available regarding TingTing, as of this writing. It is currently expected to be battery powered, rather than requiring a constant power source from a wall plug. There's even a picture that is expected to be representative of the final project, which was shared by the source and shows the speaker working without any wires. Nevertheless, there's really no way to get a firm handle on the power, size, or number of its internal speaker or speakers. That's leaving alone the mysteries surrounding the layout or number of microphones it will include or what kinds of connectivity it will feature. The speaker pictured doesn't look dissimilar to Amazon's A.I.-empowered Echo devices but appears to be somewhat smaller. Having said all of that, it's probably a good idea to take the news and image with a grain of salt until the company announces something more officially.