In August last year it was announced that Microsoft and Amazon were preparing to make Cortana and Alexa the best of friends. Regardless of whether you owned one of Amazon’s smart speakers or a device with access to Cortana, the two smart assistants would be accessible with a voice command. A year later and that integration has finally happened.
As Arstechnica reports, it’s now possible to say, “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” on your Windows 10 PC, Xbox One, or other Cortana-friendly device and gain access to Alexa. Alternatively, on an Echo you can say, “Alexa, open Cortana” and gain access to Microsoft’s assistant.
The reason this was allowed to happen is a lack of overlap. Cortana will give you access to information such as your calendar, to-do list, and emails. Alexa on the other hand unlocks access to Amazon’s range of service including music playback and voice shopping, for example.
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The fact you have to ask to switch is a bit awkward and it’s a shame you can’t just talk to Cortana or Alexa directly without the initial voice command. I also can’t help but feel this integration benefits Amazon more than it does Microsoft. I think there will be far more consumers wanting to access Amazon’s services from their Windows PC or Xbox than there are Echo owners wanting to have emails read out to them.
If you’re in the US, Cortana and Alexa should be available on your devices at some point this week if not already. Simply try either voice command to find out if it is and then decide how useful that is. I suspect many will try it once and forget all about the integration until it becomes a little less clunky.