Artificially intelligent programs joining forces and conspiring against the humans have always been the usual stuff for churning out many sci-fi horror series. The same is being played out in the real world though fortunately for us, it is man-made. Microsoft’s Cortana will henceforth collaborate with Amazon’s Alexa as the two companies seek to make the most of the two digital assistants’ capabilities.
This makes for a unique development, the kind of which the tech world has never seen before. While companies of the likes of Apple or Google have been busy wooing us with the unique capabilities of Siri and Google Assistant and what all it can achieve, we have never thought of them collaborating behind the scenes to get our job done.
That said, it still is a matter of speculation as to what extent Cortana and Alexa will be collaborating. We will get to know more of it only after December, which is when the integration is likely to be complete. The only bit known so far is that anyone seeking assistance from Cortana via Alexa will have to use the phrase, ‘Alexa, open Cortana’. Similarly, if you are seeking Alexa through Cortana, you need to use the phrase, ‘Cortana, open Alexa’.
Amazon is again among the pioneers in this field, being the first to launch an Alexa powered smart speaker system and is set to launch its second generation of Echo speakers soon. Microsoft, on the other hand, is just about to launch its first Cortana powered smart speaker, one that has been designed by Harman Kardon.
Such a move though has not been a sudden development. In fact, it started back in May 2016 when Jeff Bezos first mooted the idea to Satya Nadella. Surely it makes for a lot of sense given that consumers will have a bigger AI expertise to tap into than would have been possible with either Cortana or Alexa alone.
Also, both Microsoft and Amazon too have a lot to gain given the two different focus areas they operate in. While Microsoft is mainly attached to the personal computing segment, Amazon has its genes in online retail even though it has off late strived to evolve into a true blue tech firm with their own cloud business and all.
No wonder, each of the digital assistants – Cortana and Alexa – are designed to attend to their maker’s own user base. For instance, Alexa will be more adept at placing an order on Amazon than say searching for a file, something that Cortana can pull off at ease. That said, both Cortana and Alexa can be equally efficient in pulling off a variety of other tasks as well, like playing a specific song or booking the cab and such.
Now with Cortana and Alexa coming together, the consumers will be the biggest beneficiaries as they instantly have a bigger sphere of AI expertise to tap into. Maybe this is going to be the way the future is going to shape up, with even Google and Apple joining in too even though it seems very much unlikely at the moment.