Two of the biggest tech companies on the planet, Microsoft and Amazon, have decided to allow their digital assistants to speak to each other, and it could be the beginning of a great new relationship.
On Wednesday, in the surprising turn, the companies released a joint statement announcing that you will now be able to issue commands like “Alexa, open Cortana,” or “Cortana, open Alexa.”
“Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us,” Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO, said in a statement that appeared on both Amazon’s and Microsoft’s website. “Bringing Cortana’s knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments, and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal.”
“Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.” —Jeff Bezos
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. This is huge. But exactly how huge will likely be up to how deeply the two tech giants allow Alexa and Cortana to achieve truly seamless interoperability.
“The world is big and so multifaceted. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO, said in the same joint statement.
Of course, the big question this leaves hanging out there is: What, exactly, will be the responses from Apple (the maker of Siri) and Google (Google Home) to this shift in the digital assistant landscape? Will they join the party? Were they ever even invited? Or did they decline an invitation to mind meld with the other digital assistants?
Either way, the combined might of Alexa and Cortana, and the innovative collaborations the two will give rise to will not only benefit users, it could make things a lot more competitive for Apple and Google.
“Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience,” said Bezos. “It’s great for Echo owners to get easy access to Cortana.”