The Alexa-Cortana integration is finally available for public review. All users can now talk to Alexa from their Windows 10 PCs, or to Cortana from their Echo devices.
Alexa is working like a voice skill in Cortana, and so is Cortana in Alexa. Users may say “Hi Alexa, open Cortana” or “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” to start testing the integration. Microsoft says it welcomes users to provide feedback so that it can improve the use experience.
Each voice assistant has its strength. Alexa supports the most number of smart home devices and connects to Amazon’s e-commerce platform; Google Assistant has a better search skill; and Cortana is knowledgeable about users’ Outlook calendar and emails. As such, integration between voice assistants is special.
Users can ask Alexa to order groceries and adjust the thermostat before heading home in the office from their PCs. When making coffee in the kitchen in the morning, via Echo devices, users can ask Cortana to check their calendar before heading to the office.
Not all features from the two voice assistants are accessible from each other. For instance, music streaming and alarm setting aren’t working yet in this integration. But Microsoft said it will add more skills and the two assistants will be more integrated over time.
Users’ voice data will be stored separately in each company’s system. When people open Alexa from Cortana, the voice data will be accessed from Amazon’s database, and vice versa.
“The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life – at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient,” says Microsoft in an announcement.
Amazon and Microsoft announced this partnership about one year ago. At the time, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon CEO, said he envisioned a future where devices would automatically send commands to whichever assistant that is best suited to answer this query, and no extra phrases are needed.
Such a vision, however, requires competitors to work together. In the past year, none of them (Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Samsung’s Bixby) has shown interest in the joint voice venture. If the Alexa-Cortana integration can work while both companies benefit, maybe more partnerships will be formed in the future.
Consumers can access Alexa from Windows 10 PCs or Harman Kardon Invoke speakers, and talk with Cortana from Amazon Echo devices.