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Alexa and Cortana devices will speak to each other soon

31 August, 2017, 00:53 | Author: Kristen Ingram
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"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us", Nadella said.

Microsoft said they had 145 million Cortana users mainly on PCs, and Amazon is believed to have more than 70% of the smart speaker market.

It's true to say that digital assistants will generally have their own areas of expertise depending on which company made it - for example, Cortana will be more tightly integrated with Microsoft's suite of software such as Office, while Alexa is more in tune with audiobooks or online shopping.

Amazon Echo users will soon be able to access Cortana's set of features by simply asking Alexa. "Hopefully, they'll be inspired by it".

The fairly stunning detente in what was shaping up to be a protracted war of digital assistants for ultimate domination of the smart home could lead to any number of smart home innovations now that the two systems are being allowed to work in tandem. Amazon wants you to be able to control things, yeah, but the end goal is for you to have access to Amazon with your voice no matter which electronics maker you prefer. Alexa's skillset is also growing rapidly: Amazon had only officially passed 10,000 skills in February, meaning it's offerings grew by more than 50% in just four months. But it's a pairing that should pay off for both juggernauts, with Alexa featured on about 70 percent of all smart speakers, and Cortana having almost 150 million monthly users on PC. If you have the Amazon Echo connected, you can say it an alternative way of approaching the Microsoft assistant, directly.

Then again, Bezos, who pitched the idea of an unprecedented Amazon - Microsoft partnership to a surprisingly receptive Nadella way back in May 2016, admitted in a New York Times interview he didn't also reach out to Google and Apple.

Alexa now dominates the market in terms of available skills: As of June, Alexa had 15,069 skills, compared to Google Assistant's 378 and Cortana's 65. It seems as though the two are doing this to bring in more features to their users. Meanwhile, Google's Assistant is now in smartphones and in its Home smart speaker.

It is, perhaps, a different situation for Apple and Google given that their respective assistants Siri and Google Assistant are important parts of the very distinct iOS and Android smartphone ecosystems.

Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said the new partnership between Amazon and Microsoft could be a major win for both companies.

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