Microsoft and Amazon play matchmaker between Cortana and Alexa
Thu 31 Aug 2017
Amazon and Microsoft’s smart assistants will now be able to talk to each other, making them accessible from new devices and able to work together.
In a collaborative project between the two giants, it means that customers soon will be able to turn to their Echo device and ask Alexa to open Cortana, or turn to a Windows device and ask Cortana to open Alexa.
Corporate VP of Cortana engineering, Andrew Shuman, noted that he himself uses multiple personal assistants, and Microsoft’s collaboration with Amazon came about ‘because people use and interact with all kinds of products.’
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, 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.’
Shuman uses the example of receiving a message at work, from your partner about needing to do some shopping. He says: ‘In the future, on your Windows 10 PC, iPhone or Android phone, you could simply say, “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” and ask Alexa to order using your preferred payment method for your Amazon account.’
In reverse, Shuman envisions the two products helping to organise your life through a dramatic laundry-based tale. He asks: ‘What if you’re making breakfast in the morning and need to know if you have enough time to drop off the dry-cleaning before work? On your Alexa device, you can say, ‘Alexa, open Cortana,’ and ask when your first meeting is.’
The two assistants have different specialisms and skills, as hinted at through Shuman’s examples, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos agrees, saying: ‘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.’