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Amazon and Microsoft’s Alexa-Cortana hybrid is now available in preview

AMAZON AND MICROSOFT’S ungodly combo of digital assistants is starting to roll out to early adopters.

Announced last year and much delayed, the meeting of artificial minds is designed to being the best of the business-focused Microsoft Cortana to Amazon’s market leader Alexa.

For Alexa, it means a foothold in every Windows machine capable of far-field communication (in other words, with the right microphones) and for Cortana, access to devices which use Alexa including the company’s hugely successful Echo range and the Harmon Kardon Invoke speaker.

Not every feature from both systems is included, but the vast majority will work including home control, something that Cortana remains limited in.

It’s not seamless by any stretch. Phrases like “Alexa, ask Cortana….” seem like Chinese whispers rather than cutting-edge technology.

Nevertheless, it does add a huge raft of new functionality, including Outlook integration and this isn’t the end game. Features such as music streaming and alarms will be added later and eventually it’s hoped that the syntax can be worked out so there isn’t a constant ‘he said – she said’.

The preview is finally here after several months of delay, after the first successful demonstration at this years Microsoft Build Developer Conference.

Amazon has already started rolling out a separate Alexa UWP app to certain computers which offers a more direct integration but doesn’t snuggle up to Cortana in the same way.

If you want to have a try, you can either say “Hey Cortana – open Alexa” on a computer or “Alexa – open Cortana” on an Alexa device to log in to the other assistant’s account.

We’ve just tried and Cortana told us that Alexa was only available on Alexa devices (helpful) but we’re not sure if that means it’s a US-only deal or if its still in the process of rolling out.

Either way, the age of schizophrenic AI assistants has arrived and it can only get better.

We’re still betting that Google is biding its time before launching Google Assistant inside its 65 per cent market leading Chrome browser, and when that happens, to quote another tech visionary, this changes everything. μ

Source : Inquirer

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