AMAZON'S ALL CONQUERING voice assistant Alexa has a new home as a number of PC manufacturers have announced it will be integrated into their new laptops.
The Alexa app will be supported by devices with far-field microphones, meaning they will have a performance on par with that of separate devices.
The news has come as something of a curveball given that the strategy previously announced had been around integrating Alexa into Cortana and vice versa. This is still going ahead, with the Alexa app integration forming a separate strategy from manufacturers.
HP, Asus (Zenbook and Vivobook), Acer (Spin, Swift, Switch and Aspire) and Lenovo have already confirmed that their new lines announced at CES will come with ‘wake-word' support (in other words, saying Alexa without touching anything) but it won't be universal.
The key will be Intel's Smart Sound technology which will mean that it can be detected.
"Hands-free access to Alexa on PCs can be helpful to customers in many ways, like making it simple to interact with your smart home, get news or weather, set timers, and more," explained Amazon Alexa VP Steve Rabuchin.
It will have some of the visual display elements from the Echo Show as a taskbar pop up, but it won't be a full service - not at launch at least - one of the big draws - smart home control - will be missing. Ditto for the ‘drop-in' and calling /messaging features.
Additionally, it's not entirely clear at this stage, given that the launch was for specific laptops, whether all capable machines will be able to use the Windows 10 version of Alexa or whether it is specifically available on these new ranges, and that fact alone could make a huge difference.
It's somewhat surprising given that Microsoft has always said it is betting on Cortana working through its existing billions of machines, rather than creating new hardware, and Alexa on Windows 10 would impede the latter's growth.
Meanwhile, Google has been making the "Hey, Google" wake-word of its rival service visible on every possible surface at CES as the battle between it and Alexa seems set to accelerate.
At present, the Windows 10 Alexa app is due for release in the Spring, but no firm dates yet. µ
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