Alexa and Cortana buddy up in Microsoft / Amazon partnership
According to The New York Times, Alexa users will be able to access Cortana, and vice versa, on a range of devices.
The report does state that this integration will be a little bit awkward initially, however.
When using an Alexa device you will have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to get access to Microsoft’s own digital assistant. If you’re using Cortana you will have to say “Cortana, open Alexa.”
From this alone it looks a lot like all these companies have done is created skills on each others platforms to enable the basic integration.
Why should I care?
The benefit for users is that it will allow Alexa users to get access to some of the more unique aspects of Cortana. Microsoft has built its digital assistant to access Office products.
Furthermore, while Microsoft is still tempting developers to create their own Cortana skills, existing Cortana users will be able to call up Alexa to get access to the ones that Cortana is missing.
This news has certainly come as a surprise to us at GadgetyNews. Especially as Microsoft is preparing to launch a Cortana speaker with Harman Kardon – the Invoke. Not only that, it’s preparing to push its digital assistant into cars, thermostats, and more devices.
Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google have all built rival digital assistants. As far as users and developers are concerned there, up until now, have all had strict borders. This partnership signals a move to make them work better together.
The New York Times reports that Microsoft and Amazon partnered in May last year. Word is that Amazon CEO, Jeff Bezos, raised the idea with Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, at Microsoft’s CEO summit.
This Amazon / Microsoft lovefest actually makes perfect sense. Firstly, Microsoft already helps power Alexa queries through its Bing search engine. Secondly, ganging up will certainly pose strong competition against Google’s own assistant.
However, after saying that, Bezos is more than happy to welcome Apple and Google and offers similar integration.
Microsoft and Amazon are planning to fully detail their partnership later today.
UPDATE – official statement from Amazon
I have just been contacted by Amazon who have confirmed the above.
Their statement says:
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.
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft says
Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon added
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. It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”