Mobile operator SK Telecom (SKT) launched a trial version of a Korean-language virtual assistant named A. for users of Android smartphones, with plans to expand to iOS devices as soon as possible.

The so-called open beta version of the assistant is available to users regardless of whether they are a SKT customer.

In its current state the assistant is able to handle tasks such as playing specific music through voice commands and recommending content deemed appropriate based on the user’s preferences.

It can also hold general conversations, link to other apps, use text commands and be customised to consumer preferences.

Later in the year, SKT plans to add new features including wider content options to incorporate TV and gaming, language services and photo management. It also aims to partner with third parties on further developments.

Announcing the launch SKT stated A. had been “built with advanced natural language processing and sentiment analysis technologies,” with the aim of enabling users to “create and enjoy communicating with an AI character that understands them well”.

“Currently in its open beta stage, A. still has room for improvement,” the company added. “It is expected to become smarter and more helpful through customer feedback and constant self-learning.”

SKT CEO Ryu Young-sang noted the intention was to “provide customers with the benefits of warm, human-centred technologies in this era of AI”.

The release is SKT’s latest foray into AI, which has become a major priority for the business as it aims to become a leading player in the fledgling sector.