Just this month, Amazon and Microsoft forced their voice assistants to start talking to each other, and you can now use Cortana to access Alexa, and vice versa, if you’re in the U.S. The newfound friendship opens the door for much simpler organization and management, as you won’t have to jump back and forth between the two to manage your personal or professional life, eventually. (If only all digital assistants could follow suit.)
Right now, Alexa-Cortana connection is fairly limited, with most functions only working on an Amazon Echo device, Windows 10 PC, or Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. However, Microsoft and Amazon have already enabled a few cool functions you can try out right now, with the promise of many more to come. Here’s how to get started:
Connect Cortana and Alexa
The easiest way to get Cortana and Alexa talking to each other is to use the Alexa app’s “skills” feature. Open the app on your mobile device (Android, iOS) and hit the menu icon in the top-left corner, then select “skills” from the dropdown menu. Search for “Cortana” in the search bar at the top, select it from the results, and select it to enable the skill. From here, just sign in with the Microsoft account associated with your Cortana assistant to link the two together.
Connect Alexa to Cortana
If you prefer, you can also add Alexa via your Cortana assistant, instead. Unlike the first option, this can’t be done on a mobile device, or even the Xbox One, which has Cortana built-in. To get started, go to your Windows 10 PC, fire up Cortana, and ask it to “open Alexa.” A window will pop up, and you can then link your Amazon account accordingly.
Also, it almost goes without saying, but you’ll need to perform the linking on both devices to be able to use Cortana on Alexa or Alexa on Cortana. Just linking Alexa on Cortana, for example, won’t automatically connect them everywhere.
Skills to try with Cortana (when talking to Alexa)
When using Cortana via Alexa, the assistant is designed to handle your productivity functions, such as managing your schedule. Once you’ve opened Alexa and fired off the “Open Cortana” trigger phrase, you can ask it questions like, “What’s on my calendar?” or “What new emails do I have?” Cortana will pull up the information as she would if you were using the assistant directly on a PC. You can also ask it to add items to your Microsoft to-do lists.
Skills to try with Alexa through Cortana
There are quite a few more features you can try with Alexa through Cortana than there are the other way around. On your Windows 10 PC, say, “Hey Cortana, open Alexa,” and you’ll be greeted with her voice.
From here, you can ask Alexa many of the same things you would on an Echo device. Try asking Alexa to adjust your thermostat at your home while you’re out and about, and your temperature will be changed when you’re home. You can also order groceries this way, assuming you’ll be around to pick them up later, and you can turn on the lights in your home remotely or check on an Amazon order status.