You Can Now Talk to Alexa Using Cortana

Microsoft’s Megan Saunders and Amazon’s Tom Taylor show off the first integrations of Alexa and Cortana at Microsoft Build in Seattle

Nearly one year ago exactly, Amazon announced plans to integrate Microsoft's Cortana with its Alexa personal assistant.

But today, finally, almost a year after it was first announced, Amazon and Microsoft are claiming that their rollout of the digital assistant collaboration has begun.

Microsoft and Amazon officials have said the goal of integrating Cortana and Alexa is to be able to carry out different tasks both at home and work on whichever device is most convenient.

On a Windows device, users need to say "Hey Cortana, open Alexa", in order to make requests like querying Amazon shopping deals or asking for an Alexa-powered thermostat to set a temperature. For instance, you can access the Office specific functions of Cortana from your Amazon Echo speaker using the "Alexa, open Cortana" phrase. One feels the mere "Hey Cortana" or "Alexa" should be enough to speak to the right agent.

To get started simply trigger Cortana and say "open Alexa".

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The tie-up between Cortana and Alexa will be available in the USA only at first, and both companies are requesting that users provide them with feedback that can be used to improve the feature.

Alexa and Cortana: Tech's new BFFs?

Amazon teases that this is only the beginning of the relationship between Alexa and Cortana; it also warns that some features aren't available under the preview, including access to audiobooks, music, and Alexa's flash briefing.

As Microsoft and Amazon demonstrated at the Microsoft Build conference in May, the procedure for invoking Cortana on Alexa devices (and vice versa) is rather awkward. Microsoft tells us that "many" of those skills will be available at launch, with more coming later down the line. During the preview period, only limited set of features are available.

Such a future would likely require support from rival voice assistants like Apple's Siri, Samsung's Bixby and the Google Assistant, none of which have shown much movement towards cooperation in the 12 months since Amazon and Microsoft's partnership was first announced.

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