Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Cortana are teaming up

Monday, 04 Sep, 2017

Microsoft and Amazon announced jointly this Wednesday that their virtual voice assistants, Cortana and Alexa, will work together in each other's ecosystems. Windows 10 users will be the first to able to access Alexa via Windows 10, followed by apps for Android and iOS at somepoint in the near "future".

Users will be able to launch Alexa from an Amazon Echo device and ask to use Microsoft's Cortana, allowing users to access the features of each service.

With this cross-platform integration, Alexa users can now access some of the more unique aspects of Cortana.

In fast response to the Alexa-Cortana alliance, Alphabet announced that its own AI assistant software Google Assistant would be made compatible with third-party speakers and home appliances. Alexa mainly lives in Amazon's Echo, a home-based device, and can perform thousands of tasks, including voice-only ordering from Amazon.com. "Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal", said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

For now, the functionality is limited to Amazon powered devices only. Amazon and Microsoft are teaming up to let their voice assistants talk to each other by the end of the year.

Both Google and Amazon have been putting their respective assistants on more devices, lately. The Redmond company, at present, only have some partnerships with manufacturers such as Harman Kardon and Hewlett-Packard. Unlike the Cortana-powered Invoke, which is set to be released later in the year, the Allure looks like a mini humidifier with its translucent plastic-looking top.

The Kitsound Voice One also has what the company calls TLC audio boost and it has multi-room technology built-in, allowing you to connect up to eight Kitsound Voice One speakers together in one group. For now, though, only those in the US, UK, and Germany will be able to use this multi-room music feature on their Echo, Echo Dot, and Echo Show speakers. Meanwhile, Microsoft seemed to be pivoting its efforts to concentrate on improving voice recognition services and APIs for developers rather than for Cortana, the personified digital voice assistant. However, that the two rivals would get into a partnership so soon was quite unexpected, more so because it is quite unlikely for tech giants to collaborate on new and important technologies, as they prefer to stand out from the competition. A non-gimmicky future for digital voice assistants depends on it.

"The world is big and so multifaceted", Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says in a news release. This is going to start with the Swift 2 range of devices from Wileyfox.

A few years ago, I remember thinking that if Siri, Cortana and their digital voice assistant peers aspired to be more than gimmicks, their corporate parents would need to teach them to play nice with each other.