Microsoft and Amazon are integrating their digital assistants this week. A new preview is being offered to both Cortana and Alexa users in the US that will allow each digital assistant to summon each other and access additional apps and services. The integration was first announced last year and demonstrated earlier this year at Microsoft’s Build developer conference, and now Microsoft and Amazon are seeking feedback before it’s broadly rolled out to all devices.
The integration is rather basic right now and requires users to summon each digital assistant through a rather clunky process. “Alexa, open Cortana” will launch Cortana on an Echo device, and “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” will do the same on Windows 10 PCs and devices like the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker. Cortana and Alexa will both be enabled as a skill on each platform, allowing you to call up Cortana from an Echo device and get access to some of the Windows / Office specific features of the digital assistant. Likewise, Windows 10 users will be able to access Alexa through Cortana to access a host of skills and smart home integrations.
While the integration might be clunky, Microsoft and Amazon are working towards improving this in the future. “The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life,” explains Microsoft’s Jennifer Langston. Features like streaming music or alarms are not available just yet, but Microsoft says additional skills and features will be added over time. “Engineers will use feedback from the public preview to deepen the collaboration between Cortana and Alexa,” explains Langston.
Amazon is also bringing Alexa to a number of Windows 10 PCs with a dedicated app that can listen for the Alexa wake word. Microsoft hasn’t really been pushing ahead with Cortana, though. With the exception of the Cortana-powered thermostat, Microsoft’s digital assistant has not started appearing in more speakers, cars, fridges, toasters, and thermostats like the company promised. Cortana has now fallen far behind both Alexa and Google Assistant, and Microsoft has now placed its Outlook for iPhone boss in charge of Cortana to help improve the situation.
If you want to try out Alexa on Cortana, and vice versa, you can simply say “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” on a Windows 10 PC, or say “Alexa, open Cortana” on an Echo device.