Microsoft and Amazon have struck a surprising deal, with the two tech giants announcing that their digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa, will be able to talk to one another later this year.
Users will soon be able to fire questions at Cortana via Amazon Echo, or question Alexa via a Windows 10 device. Users will be able to use the AI assistants by simply saying “Alexa, open Cortana” or “Cortana, open Alexa”. The tie-up between the rivals will broaden the reach for both AI assistants, with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saying:
“Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.
“There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas.”
The collaboration will enable users to play music, set up calendar appointments, Amazon shopping and control their smart home using either of the devices.
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft, said: “”Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
Amazon’s Alexa is primarily used on Echo speakers in family homes, whilst Cortana is utilised on computers. With the partnership users can get the best of both worlds and access features from both devices.
The integrated digital assistants will be available later this year to users, with Andrew Shuman, Corporate Vice President Cortana Engineering, saying: “This collaboration will allow you to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs, followed by Android and iOS in the future. Conversely, you’ll be able to access Cortana on Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show.