Almost one year ago exactly, Amazon announced plans to integrate Microsoft’s Cortana with its Alexa personal assistant. Under this integration, Alexa will be able to communicate with Cortana, and Cortana will also be able to communicate with Alexa. Today Amazon revealed the latest evolution in this plan, introducing a public preview that enables customers to experience the new functionality.
Assuming you have a device with Alexa, such as the Amazon Echo, you can summon Cortana to perform actions like checking email, adding items to a to-do list, and getting an update on your calendar events. This is performed by first saying the phrase, “Alexa, open Cortana,” which launches Microsoft’s own personal assistant.
Upon doing this the first time, you’ll be prompted with instructions on linking the two services; you’ll also need a Microsoft account, which you’ll have to sign into. In the same way, Cortana users can harness Alexa’s intelligence using the phrase, “Hey Cortana, open Alexa.” For those on Windows 10, they can click the microphone button, then simply say, “Open Alexa.”
The integration is useful for Microsoft users, enabling them to control their smart home devices from their Cortana smart speaker or Windows 10 device. The integration also brings access to Alexa’s large library of skills.
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.
The preview is rolling out for users in the US. For Cortana fans, the preview is available on Windows 10 and the Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. For Alexa users, the preview is available on the various Echo products. However, Amazon says that it is working with Microsoft to expand support to additional devices in the future.