Alexa and Cortana devices will speak to each other soon

Javier Stokes
August 31, 2017

Amazon and Microsoft announced something of a curve ball this morning, with the two tech titans revealing plans to integrate Alexa and Cortana, their respective voice-activated digital assistants. "Soon, users will be able to play their favorite song, alter the volume, or change an input in any room where our connected products are placed, simply by asking Alexa to do so".

Amazon and Microsoft announced an extended partnership Wednesday that enables Alexa to talk with Cortana, and Cortana with Alexa. Cortana users will be able to ask Alexa to control their smart home devices, shop on Amazon.com, and interact with the platform's 20,000-plus skills built by third-party developers.

Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us.

This means anyone with an Amazon Echo can access Cortana's different features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reads a recent press release from Amazon. "In my view of the world, because that would be best for the customer, that's probably what eventually happens", Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said. Meanwhile, Microsoft Cortana is available via 145 million Windows devices.

Amazon is gifting Echo owners with a new feature.

Bezos stated that at the moment he hasn't reached out to Google or Apple to see if they would be interested in a similar partnership but says that he would "welcome it", while Microsoft's Satya Nadella stated he hoped they would be "inspired" by the partnership.

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Amazon's voice-powered digital assistant Alexa will now be able to activate Microsoft's own assistant Cortana, and vice versa. He approached Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in May past year to suggest bringing the two voice agents together, and Nadella agreed.

The integration will be complete by the end of this year and would be, reportedly, a bit cumbersome to use.

The voice-controlled helpers can make web searches, set timers, crack jokes and adjust smart home devices thanks to their integration with the cloud.

"The personality and expertise of each [assistant] will be such that if they interoperated, the user will get more out of it", Mr. Nadella told The New York Times.

HomePod is created to work with the Apple Music subscription service and can produce rich sound while tapping into the artificial intelligence power of Siri.

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