Alexa and Cortana lend their voices to a mighty new AI chorus

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With Amazon and Microsoft already collaborating, does it mean that Apple and Google will join in? Alexa customers will be able to access Cortana's features, including booking meetings, accessing calendars and reading email. Alexa will play music, answer questions, get news and local information, control smart home products, and other tasks from voice-enabled products.

The New York Times revealed on its report that Microsoft and Amazon have actually been quietly coordinating behind the scenes for this collaboration since May 2016. "In my view of the world, because that would be best for the customer, that's probably what eventually happens", Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said. You will be able to turn to your Echo device and say, "Alexa, open Cortana", or turn to your Windows 10 device and say, "Cortana, open Alexa".

Asking Alexa to open Cortana and vice versa will launch the rival assistant once it's available later this year, meaning the companies have effectively built skills (the smart speaker equivalent of apps) for each other's platform.

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"I'd welcome it", Bezos said while Nadella noted that "Hopefully, they'll be inspired by it".

SEATTLE, Wash. - August 30, 2017- Amazon and Microsoft announced today that Alexa will be able to talk to Cortana, and Cortana will be able to talk to Alexa. With full access to Cortana's capabilities, one might as well just buy an Echo.

The two companies say the move is recognition that people will use more than one digital assistant.

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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.

The new Cortana-Alexa functionality will be available later this year, meanwhile. Yet each of them comes with unique skills that users might want access to.

When this partnership goes live, Alexa-powered devices will be able to connect to Cortana by saying, "Alexa, open Cortana". But, as The Times notes, such a future may be unlikely since Google and Apple see their AIs as key differentiators for their mobile phone operating systems. It's his idea that Amazon took to Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft.

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