Yesterday, Microsoft and Amazon announced a public preview of the integration of their intelligent digital assistants, Cortana and Alexa for US users. Both Cortana and Alexa allow each digital assistant to summon each other and access additional apps and services on their Windows 10 PCs and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers.
This digital assistant integration was first announced on 30th August last year and was demonstrated at the Microsoft Build Developer Conference, 2018.
Why did Microsoft and Amazon collaborate Cortana and Alexa?
“I want them to have access to as many of those A.I.s as possible”, said Jeff Bezos in an interview with The New York times, while putting forth his vision for users to communicate with AIs as they do with their friends while asking them recommendations about a good restaurant or a famous hiking place nearby, and so on.
He further stated, “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.”
Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft added,”Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal”.
Cortana users can have another way of making their lives easier with a great shopping experience. For instance, if you’re at work but remember you have to get soft drinks for a dinner party in the evening and you’re using their Windows 10 PC, iPhone or Android phone, you can simply ask Alexa to order soft drinks using the preferred payment method for their Amazon account.
“Alexa, open Cortana”
“Hey Cortana, open Alexa”
For trying out this exciting update for Alexa on Cortana, and vice versa, you can simply say “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” on a Windows 10 PC, or “Alexa, open Cortana” on an Echo device.
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) August 15, 2018
As explained by Amazon in one of its recent posts, “The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life — at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient. Currently, Cortana and Alexa can each be enabled as a skill on the other.”
In Microsoft Office 365 users can simply ask Cortana to summon Alexa through a PC at work or can use Alexa to order groceries, adjust the thermostat before heading home for the day. Also before heading to work, one could enlist Cortana through an Echo device to preview a daily calendar, add an item to a to-do list or check for new emails while making breakfast in the kitchen.
As a part of this latest public preview, users can freely offer their feedback on how they can help both the communities in improving the Alexa+Cortana experience.
The feedback will be based on what the users like, what they did not, and what features they use the most. With customer feedback, the experience will keep getting better and more precise as more people use it and as changes are updated to the underlying algorithms.
“Engineers will use feedback from the public preview to deepen the collaboration between Cortana and Alexa”, stated Jennifer Langston in Amazon’s official post.