Alexa, meet Cortana.
Could they become best friends?
Microsoft and Amazon are pairing their voice assistants together in a collaboration announced Wednesday.
Both companies say that later this fall, users will be able to access Alexa using Cortana on Windows 10 computers and on Android and Apple devices. They’ll also be able to access Cortana on Alexa-enabled devices such as the Amazon Echo.
“It’s a surprise move by both companies, and comes just as Microsoft is preparing to launch a Cortana speaker with Harman Kardon and push its digital assistant into cars, thermostats, and more devices,” The Verge reports.
“Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Google have all built rival digital assistants that have been seen as walled gardens blocked off from each other, and this partnership signals a move to make them work better together.”
Microsoft says the tie-up will allow Alexa customers to get access to Cortana features such as for booking meetings or accessing work calendars. Cortana users, in turn, can ask Alexa to switch on smart home devices or shop on Amazon’s website.
The use of voice assistants is growing. Google and Amazon already have smart speakers on the market. Apple has HomePod coming with its Siri assistant, while Samsung plans one with Microsoft’s Cortana.
- VIDEO: Watch Cnet’s report about the story at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5gQnmIcSYUU
Amazon has little to lose from the partnership, and Microsoft’s Cortana — which has been largely limited to laptops — might get discovered by more users because of it, said Carolina Milanesi, a mobile technology analyst at Creative Strategies.
“Cortana might get a little bit more out of it because it gets Cortana out of the PC,” she said. “For Cortana to really get to be more important, it needs to be consistently used every day for different tasks.”
Milanesi said that for Amazon especially, which wants more people to consider Alexa as their first choice, the partnership also might be designed to send a message to customers and rivals.
“They both get something out of it, which is mainly showing Apple and Google that they’re willing to work together to get stronger,” Milanesi said.