Online giant's partnership expands Alexa's reach

Thursday, 31 Aug, 2017

Long term, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says that he hopes this won't be necessary and that each device's primary assistant will be able to defer tasks to the secondary assistant as appropriate.

The integration will begin by requiring users of either voice assistant to specifically "open" the other. "That would be best for the customer". "Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal", according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Multi-room audio support is a common feature on most premium audio devices and since Amazon wants the Echo to be counted among those devices, it's adding this functionality to the Echo.

Amazon has already allowed for third-party companies to make speakers that use Alexa, and it's even opened up its hardware build for the Echo speakers, allowing for other manufacturers to make speakers with the same microphone array.

Alexa's users will be able to access Cortana's productivity features, including booking meetings, reading emails aloud, accessing work calendars - or "reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home" - using just their voice. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Google and almost every other big tech company is pouring huge amounts of money into making digital assistants that are smarter and can do more, seeing them as a new way for people to interact naturally with devices and online services. Apple's Siri has been the digital assistant inside iPhones for years and will power the forthcoming HomePod. Meanwhile Google has billions of Android users who could potentially use "Ok Google" or the new Google Assistant.

The global electronics manufacturer on Sunday said it planned to showcase its appliances working with Amazon's Alexa voice-controlled intelligent speaker at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin that kicks off next week.

So don't expect Apple or Google to jump on the cooperation bandwagon any time soon.

The two chief executives also discussed the partnership with The New York Times.

Bezos added: "It's great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana". Or did they decline an invitation to mind meld with the other digital assistants?