Alexa, Open Cortana: Amazon, Microsoft Team Up on Voice

Chirpy voice assistants Alexa and Cortana will soon become the best of friends, as Amazon and Microsoft are working to integrate the two services.

Later this year, you'll be able to access Alexa via Cortana on Windows 10 PCs; support for Android and iOS will be added "in the future," Microsoft says in a blog post. "Conversely, you'll be able to access Cortana on Alexa-enabled devices like the Amazon Echo, Echo Dot and Echo Show."

Just say, "Hey Cortana, open Alexa" or "Alexa, open Cortana" for details about upcoming meetings, traffic alerts, shopping lists, and anything else you might have synced to either service.

"Ensuring Cortana is available for our customers everywhere and across any device is a key priority for us. Bringing Cortana's knowledge, Office 365 integration, commitments and reminders to Alexa is a great step toward that goal," according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Andrew Shuman, corporate vice president of Cortana Engineering at Microsoft, says you'll also be able to add items to your Amazon shopping list on the fly via Cortana if your Echo or Echo Dot speakers aren't in earshot, or set Cortana reminders via Alexa if you're closer to an Echo.

Excitingly, this also suggests you'll be able to do things like schedule recording times on connected TV platforms like EE TV and YouView via Cortana, as well as make use of the many new skills being written by third-party developers.

Why do this? One big clue is this line in Microsoft's blog post: "Cortana users will be able to have Alexa shop on and manage their Amazon orders." Amazon's push into hardware has always been about providing a way for people to shop; buy ebooks on a Kindle, movies on a Fire tablet, toilet paper with a Dash Button, and whatever your heart desires on an Echo...and soon, Cortana. Similarly, Alexa users can tap into Microsoft's productivity features.

Neither Microsoft nor Amazon mentioned how this will work in terms of user privacy, but look for more details later this year.

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