Alexa has a new friend: Cortana


"Similarly, Cortana [pictured, left] customers can ask Alexa [pictured, right] to control their smart home devices [or] shop on", the statement said in part. Someone using an Alexa device will have to say "Alexa, open Cortana" to get access to Microsoft's own digital assistant, and someone using Cortana will have to say "Cortana, open Alexa". For example, Windows 10 users will say, "Cortana, open Alexa", and Echo users will say, "Alexa, open Cortana".

The voice-activated assistant software, which mostly lives in Amazon's Echo speakers and the miniaturized Echo Dot, can be told to create groups for two or more Echo devices, linking together the devices in a certain room or area. This means that while you are on your computer, you can ask Cortana to lock your Alexa-connected doors, or turn on the lights, and it should making controlling your smartphone easier, wherever you are. That's a task best suited to Cortana, which offers deep integration with Microsoft's suite of products. 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.

Now there is no word on when this device will be available to consumers but with more than an estimated 7 million Echo's already sold, it is likely going to be less expensive to get voice access to Cortana through Echo speakers then Invoke.

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The main thing to note here - aside from how clumsy it's going to be having one voice assistant summon another - is that Cortana and Alexa play in very different spheres; one being productivity and business user focused, and the other being ecommerce/entertainment and consumer focused.

According to the two companies, the partnership will allow the companies' customers to take advantage of the complimentary skill sets of the two digital assistants.

The New York Times reports that this collaboration began about a year ago when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos brought up the idea with Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella. Meanwhile, Google's Assistant is now in smartphones and in its Home smart speaker. Apple arguably kickstarted it all with Siri back in 2011, while Google and Samsung also compete in the space. Will they join the party?