Tech giants announce first-of-its-kind collaboration.
“Alexa has made a new friend,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tweeted to announce a major collaboration between the two tech giants.
So it turns out, both Amazon and Microsoft have been working together for the last 12 months to make Alexa and Cortana BFFs. Alexa users will be able to access Cortana and Cortana users will be able to access Alexa across a huge range of the companies devices, although the initial integration will be somewhat awkward to begin with.
The New York Times had the early scoop on the story. To access Cortana from an Alexa device, the users will have to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to talk to Microsoft’s digital assistant. Conversely, Cortana users will have to say, “Cortana, open Alexa” to talk to Amazon’s.
Can’t we all just get along?
The move makes sense. Despite the advances made by AI personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google’s efforts, they have effectively been ‘walled-gardens’ separate from each other. By teaming up together, both Microsoft and Amazon will be able to open each other’s proprietary intellectual technology to each other.
Cortana for instance, is heavily integrated with Microsoft Office, and Amazon knows a lot about shopping. Giving their consumers more choice, seems to the order of the day for the two companies.
Phone home? Not without a cell phone
It’s a bold move, but as both companies do not have a significant mobile ecosystem like Google or Apple, the consolidation seems to as much about consolidating market share as about consumer choice. Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claim that they are concerned however that blocking each other’s assistants from working together, and forcing consumers to choose between one or the other, hurts everyone.
Their viewpoint is that each assistant has unique strengths that could benefit the other assistants. “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 Bezos.
The updates for Cortana and Alexa assistants will be available “later this year“. Windows 10 users will be the first to able to access Alexa via Windows 10, followed by apps for Android and iOS at somepoint in the near “future”.