Amazon and Microsoft had hoped to get Alexa and Cortana speaking before the end of 2017, but that still hasn’t happened
Microsoft and Amazon have missed their deadline for their voice-activated digital assistants to work with one another.
Last summer the two companies said they would allow Alexa and Cortana to ‘speak’ to to each other in a surprise twist to the ongoing battle for supremacy in the fast growing sector.
As part of the plans, Windows 10 devices will work with Alexa’s feature set and gain access to Amazon’s retail service. Similarly, the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show will be able to use the productivity features, such as calendars, of Cortana.
Cortana Alexa working together
The two companies say the move is recognition that people will use more than one digital assistant. For example, someone might use Cortana in the office, but Alexa at home. Interoperability will also attract more developers to both platforms.
“Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on Amazon.com and manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa’s third-party skills by asking Cortana to open Alexa, just as Alexa users will have access to Cortana’s world knowledge and helpful productivity features such as calendar management, day at a glance and location-based reminders simply by asking Alexa to open Cortana,” explained Andrew Shuman, head of Cortana engineering at Microsoft.
It was said that such features would become available before the end of 2017 but this has clearly not happened, as noted by industry observers.
An Amazon spokesperson told Silicon that the company was working on it and hoped to roll out the promised functionality soon. Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
The voice-activated digital assistant market is characterised by intense competition. Apple arguably kickstarted it all with Siri back in 2011, while Google and Samsung also compete in the space.
Such features not only add value to products such as smartphones, smart TVs and dedicared devices, but can also tie users into a particular ecosystem and are a treasure trove of personal data. With Google so dominant in search, it’s unsurprising that its rivals are keen to steal a march.
There had been suggestions that Microsoft and its recent appetite for hardware would see it create a rival to the Amazon Echo, but this has yet to materialise. It has however launched Cortana apps for iOS and Android, both of which will be able to work with Alexa at a later date.
Amazon also has plans for the business world and only this week it was suggested that Alexa could be used by British police forces to help fight crime by collecting witness statements, reports and to disseminate information to the public.