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How to Connect Alexa and Cortana, Use Them Together

Want to beef up your voice assistants? Make Alexa and Cortana work together to perform certain tasks, instead of bouncing back and forth between the two.
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How to Connect Alexa and Cortana, Use Them Together

You use both Alexa and Cortana as voice assistants, but since they’re made by different companies, the two have been unable to talk to each other—until now.

In a new spirit of cooperation between Amazon and Microsoft, your two friendly, neighborhood voice assistants are now on speaking terms. That means you can ask Alexa to summon Cortana and Cortana to summon Alexa. You can then access certain information and perform certain tasks through whatever computer or device you’re using.

Why use Alexa to access Cortana? You may be near your Echo but not your Windows 10 computer and need to retrieve information that you would normally get from Cortana. Similarly, you might be at your Windows 10 computer but not near an Echo device and need information that you’d normally get from Alexa.

“An Office 365 customer could, for instance, ask Cortana to summon Alexa through a PC at work and use Alexa to order groceries or adjust the thermostat before heading home for the day,” Microsoft said in its blog post announcing the integration. “And someone making breakfast in the kitchen could enlist Cortana through an Echo device to preview a daily calendar, add an item to a to-do list, or check for new emails before heading to the office.”

For now, the Alexa skill is available in the US on Windows 10 devices and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. Cortana is accessible on the core Amazon Echo devices, including the Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Spot, but Amazon said it’s working with Microsoft to bring the experience to more customers and devices over time. The initial team-up comes courtesy of a public preview, so it’s not yet fully baked and can be awkward to use. However, it’s a promising start and worth trying. And there’s more to come.

“This is just the start for Alexa and Cortana, which means features like music, audio books, and flash briefing will not be available immediately,” Amazon said in its blog post describing the new integration. “But the experience will continue to improve as we work with Microsoft to add new capabilities and features over time. And because Alexa is always getting smarter, the experience will get better the more you use it.”

According to Microsoft, engineers will be using feedback from the public preview to deepen the collaboration between Alexa and Cortana. Until then, here’s how to chat with both digital assistants.

  • Connect Cortana to Alexa

    To make the process work, you’ll need to connect Cortana with Alexa, and Alexa with Cortana. To first connect Cortana to Alexa, open the Alexa app. Tap on the hamburger icon () and select Skills. Type Cortana in the search field at the top and tap on the Search button. From the search results, tap on the entry for Cortana. The Cortana screen explains how the skill works. Tap Enable to activate the skill.
  • Enable Cortana Permissions

    Once you tap Enable, Cortana will request access to your Alexa device. Tap the button to Save Permissions. On the next screen, you will be shown what information Microsoft collects from you so Cortana can work.
  • Access Your Microsoft Account

    Sign into your Microsoft Account with your username and password. Then give access for Cortana to run on your Alexa device. The next screen should tell you that Cortana has been successfully linked.
  • Manage Cortana Skills

    Before you try to summon Cortana through Alexa, make sure you’ve connected the necessary services so Cortana can access your calendar, contacts, and other content. To do this, click on the Cortana search field on your Windows computer and select the Notebook. Click on the heading for Manage Skills and then select the entry for Connected services.
  • Connect Services to Cortana

    Turn on and connect to each service that you want to access through Cortana.
  • Open Cortana with Alexa

    Next, say “Alexa, open Cortana.” You can then ask questions to get general information, like the weather forecast and sports scores. However, the true purpose is to ask questions and access information that Alexa can’t handle on its own, especially data specific to the services connected to Cortana.

    You can do things like access your calendar, check for new emails, and hear your to-do list items. You can also make calendar appointments, send emails, and add to your to-do list. Here are some examples:

    • Say “What’s on my calendar for next week?” Cortana reads off your appointments.
    • Say “What new emails do I have?” Cortana lists your new emails, asks which ones you want to listen to, and then asks if you want to reply to a specific message.
    • Say “What’s on my to-do list?” Cortana lists the items.
    • Say “Add an appointment to my calendar.” Cortana asks for the date and time and then the name of the appointment.
    • Say “Send an email.” Cortana asks for the recipient, subject, and body of the email.
    • Say “Add to my to-do list.” Cortana asks you what you want to add.
  • Connect Alexa to Cortana

    Now, let’s connect Alexa to Cortana. On your Windows 10 computer, open Cortana. You can either click in the Cortana search field or say “Hey, Cortana” if you’ve enabled that option. Tell Cortana: “Open Alexa.”
  • Access Your Amazon Account

    Sign into your Amazon account. Click Allow to let the Alexa Skill Security Profile access the Alexa Voice Service. Click Yes to let Windows remember your Amazon sign-in name and password. Click Yes to allow Microsoft to share your location and speech recording with Alexa.
  • Open Alexa with Cortana

    You can now talk to Alexa through Cortana. The next time you summon Alexa through Cortana, you’ll cut right to the chase without having to sign in or grant permission to anything.

    You can now directly interact with Alexa through your Windows computer. You can perform more personal tasks, such as accessing your calendar appointments, listening to messages, and managing your to-do list. You can ask for names of local restaurants, businesses, and other nearby spots. You can also manage your smart home.

    While you can’t ask for music and radio playback, alarms, timers, or reminders, you can use many of the skills you typically access through Alexa, like play games, take quizzes, and listen to news.

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