Tech heavyweights Amazon and Microsoft have announced today that Alexa will be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa. Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon say that at somepoint later this year, customers will be able to turn to their Echo device and say, “Alexa, open Cortana”, or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, “Cortana, open Alexa”.
Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana.
What is interesting to see here is that both the voice assistants work differently. While Cortana is leaned more towards business and productivity, Alexa on the other hand is more consumer and lifestyle focused. The cross-platform integration will allow Alexa to access Cortana’s features, which are directly built into Microsoft’s Office products.
“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,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.
“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 specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO, Amazon.
In an official blog, Andrew Shuman, Corporate Vice President, Cortana Engineering, Microsoft states that by bringing Cortana to Alexa and Alexa to Cortana, the company is trying to add more value and choice for consumers and developers alike.
According to several news reports, the news comes just as Microsoft is preparing to launch its Cortana speaker in collaboration with Harman Kardon. Once that is out in the market, customers will have to chose between Microsoft and Amazon devices, or at least when it comes to smart speakers.