There is currently an overabundance of voice assistance on the market, and while options are always terrific, it can be annoying to work with several of these AIs on a daily basis. The front-runners are Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana. Don’t forget about Samsung’s new Bixby, the voice-assistant is sure to catch up over the next few weeks, but the rollout here in the States was much later than the previous voice-assistants mentioned above. This week Amazon and Microsoft announced that Alexa will soon be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa. It’s a terrific first step in unifying smart-homes devices and apps, cars, smartphones, and other devices that already work with those AIs. Soon you will be able to turn to your Echo device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa,” and issue commands to those devices. While it’s great that Microsoft and Alexa are talking to each other, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for Siri integration with either of the those platforms.
Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana’s unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email – all using just your voice. Similarly, Cortana customers can ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, interact with many of the more than 20,000 skills built by third-party developers, and much more. This means that while you are on your computer, you can ask Cortana to lock your Alexa-connected doors, or turn on the lights, and it should making controlling your smartphone easier, wherever you are. The features will start working with the Echo Dot ($44 on Amazon) the Echo Tap ($99 on Amazon) and the Echo ($179 on Amazon).
“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. “Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
“The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon. “It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”
Alexa and Cortana will begin talking to each other later this year, and at that time Microsoft and Amazon will announce further details and features.