The rise of voice assistants has been a pivotal upgrade on the day to day living of most people. It adds convenience and portability for services that usually take time to finish. From only getting the latest news or booking your lunch, voice assistants have been of great significance for an on-the-go lifestyle. From the likes of Alexa, Cortana, Bixby, Hound, and Lyra, voice assistants have grown into a massive mobile service in the convenience of our voices.
In April 2015, Gartner, a research firm predicted that 30 percent of interaction would be done virtually through conversations with smart machines powered by our voices. True enough, this year, the widely known Alexa has moved from push-to-talk service to a now hands-free virtual assistance. With just your voice, Alexa can now be activated on any Windows 10 PC.
The latest version of the Amazon-powered voice assistant still allows you to set alarms, book dinners, check the weather, get news and control your home. But this time, these can all be done by only using the “Alexa” wake word. Whether the app is running on the background, on the foreground or minimized, Alexa can easily be activated to do your bidding.
Alexa for Windows 10 app has been launched already since last November for only specific compatible PCs, but it has now expanded its reach to any Windows 10 PC. The push-to-talk feature is still functional for all users by pressing the button within the app or hitting the keyboard shortcut. But Windows 10 PC users can also switch between two modes of activating Alexa either by the button or through the wake word.
On the initial launch of Alexa for Windows 10 PC, it was not able to support control on any music streaming app, but the recent update now carries music streaming on Pandora, allowing users to listen on their favorite Pandora stations and control their playlist.
This recent update on Alexa is only a part of the ongoing collaboration between Amazon and Microsoft and the integration of their voice assistants on an Alexa app for Xbox One. Along with the new diverse avatars, Dolby Vision support for Netflix, the Alexa skill app enables users to summon Cortana from Alexa and vice versa. The feature on the Xbox One also allows users to turn on their console, adjust the volume and even launch a game which means you would be able to start your game by simply saying, “Alexa, launch Assassin’s Creed.”
When the hands-free Alexa was officially launched available for download through the Windows Store, users have immediately claimed that it will be the end for Cortana. However, despite offering the same service, Microsoft says that it sees Cortana rather than a competitor but as a compliment to the other voice assistant. Microsoft’s Jennifer Langston explains, “the goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life.”
Despite the integration of the two virtual assistants, this recent update on Alexa has made Cortana fallen behind from both Alexa, and Google Assistant added to the fact that Cortana was removed from Microsoft’s Skype and had Alexa in its stead. However, The Verge CEO, Satya Nadella said that Cortana should be available for Microsoft 365 subscribers. “You should be able to use it on Google Assistant, you should be able to use it on Alexa, just like you use your apps on Android and iOS so that’s at least how we want to think about where it’ll go,” explains Nadella. But you can still command both Alexa and Cortana on Windows 10 PC by simply saying, “Hey Alexa, open Cortana,” or “Cortana, open Alexa.”
According to research, almost 10 percent of people who do not have a smart speaker will be most likely to purchase one. With these additional updates, it would not be far from the reality since these voice-powered virtual assistants whether they will last for long or will slowly disintegrate, this specific digital service has changed the game for day to day living of convenience and efficiency.