Amazon and Microsoft have teamed up to allow their respective digital assistants – Alexa and Cortana – to work in relative harmony.
As the artificial intelligence war heats up, Amazon and Microsoft have decided to join forces in hopes of getting the edge over competition from Apple and Google. In a surprising move, the two companies today announced plans to allow the Alexa and Cortana digital assistants to talk to each other.
“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
So how does it work? Well, both Alexa and Cortana will be able to access a selection of the other’s features, simply through user voice control. You can either say, ‘Alexa, open Cortana’ when speaking to an Amazon Echo device, or say ‘Cortana, open Alexa’, when speaking to a Windows 10 device.
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For Alexa customers, you’ll be able to access Cortana’s features, which include booking a meeting or accessing work calendars. You’ll also be able to check up on your Cortana reminders or read your work e-mail.
For Cortana customers, you can ask Alexa to control your smart home devices, shop using Amazon, and interact with the 20,000-plus skills built by third-party developers.
Speaking about the announcement, Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon, said: “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 specialised skill areas.”
“Together,” he continued, “their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.”
Bezos added: “It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”
It’s not clear whether Apple or Google were approached regarding access to their respective digital assistants – Siri and the Google Assistant. However, cross-platform functionality is not available for either at this point.
The new Cortana-Alexa functionality will be available later this year, meanwhile.
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