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Yandex launches Wonder, a voice-controlled social search app for the US market (update)

Sarah Silbert

Yandex, the Russian search giant, has just launched its first product for the US market: a voice-controlled social search app called Wonder. Available on iOS, the app pulls data from your Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and Twitter accounts to answer questions like "What music do my friends listen to?" Essentially, it's a mobile version of Facebook's new Graph Search, which also uses data from your social network contacts to answer questions. Wonder uses Nuance's speech-recognition tech to record and convert your words into text, and Yandex's own language software then processes those words (you can also type your queries, if you're so inclined). According to TechCrunch, which spoke with the company about the new app, Wonder is launching as a "pure experiment," with the intent to collect feedback as well as data from English-speaking users. Currently, the app is only available in the US, and it only supports questions about places, music and news. If you're packing an iDevice, you can click through to the App Store to download Wonder for free. Make sure to check out a video demo past the break, too.

Update: Facebook has thrown a spanner in the works, preventing the new app from accessing its API. The two sides are now discussing a way out of the impasse, which would need to meet Facebook's requirement that outside search engines only access its data with written permission. TechCrunch has more.

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