The biggest online retailer and one of the biggest tech companies in the world are bringing their digital assistants together to play. Later this year, someone who owns and Amazon Echo will be able to confidently say, “Alexa, open Cortana,” while a Windows 10 user can say, “Cortana, open Alexa.”
Amazon and Microsoft announced the collaboration on August 30, marking this the latest project from the two companies working together. Speaking to The New York Times, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella confirmed that the partnership began in May 2016, when Bezos approached Nadella with the idea.
The pair of CEOs believes that keeping the various assistants from interacting with one another could do more harm than good. Working together, however, they might make up for each other’s weaknesses. For example, Cortana is intrinsically tied to Microsoft Outlook, while Alexa supports various smart home accessories and is incorporated into Amazon’s online website and music streaming services.
“The world is big and so multifaceted,” said Bezos in a statement. “There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized 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.”
Of course, there can’t be a conversation about digital assistants without including Siri and Google Assistant. Apple nor Google was approached about bringing their assistants into the fold, with Bezos telling the NYT that he’s unsure if either would even be interested. Nadella, however, hopes their partnership might lead to Apple and Google joining in. “Hopefully, they’ll be inspired by it,” said Nadella. “At least that would be my hope.”