“Hey Cortana, Meet Alexa”: Microsoft and Amazon announce voice AI integration

Microsoft and Amazon have surprised everyone announcing integration between their two voice-controlled assistants: Alexa and Cortana.

Two of the world’s biggest tech conglomerates are putting differences aside to work together for the benefit of consumers – have we entered a new dimension? Amazon and Microsoft announced yesterday that they would integrate their voice activated artificial intelligences with each other to enhance both with the power of each other’s resources.

By the end of the year Cortana should be able to call upon Alexa on Cortana powered devices, and vice-versa on Alexa powered devices like Amazon’s Echo smart speakers. With access to both users can access the best of both worlds with Cortana’s specialties lying in Microsoft software and Alexa being best adapted to shopping online and audiobooks.

Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos said: “The world is big and multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data with different specialised skill areas. 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.”

It’s interesting to see a unified approach other artificial intelligence considering the competitiveness of the market. This suggests that AI is seen more as a tool than a product that they want to open up to more consumers and enhance it, which sets an interesting precedent for how companies will move forward working together on tech like this.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is key priority for us. Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”

The two will work seamlessly together once integrated, requiring just a simple “Hey Cortana, open Alexa”, to access the other assistant. As an example for what this partnership will provide, it will allow users on PCs, windows phones or any Cortana activated device to go shopping, listen to audiobooks, and much more. Likewise Microsoft access on Amazon Echos will give users access to Outlook emails, their calendar and more.

Microsoft are reportedly in development of their own Cortana powered speaker and both Amazon and Microsoft are looking to introduce their AI’s into vehicles, working with car-makers. It doesn’t seem like we’ll be seeing a partnership with the two other leading AI makers, Google and Apple, anytime soon. Bezos said that he would “welcome it”. Nadella said: “Hopefully they’ll be inspired by it. At least that would be my hope.”

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