MICROSOFT HAS brought some much needed smart home love to its Cortana virtual assistant thanks to a tie-up with IFTTT (If This Then That).
Controlling gadgets is one of the coolest things about the internet of… well… things… and up to now, Cortana has lagged somewhat behind the pack.
Now, however, by linking your IFTTT account, you can control 550 different brands of smart device at a stroke.
IFTTT remains quite limited unless you delve into the experimental world of the maker platform, and not all the triggers you want are there for every device. But it's better than nothing.
The issue is that IFTTT does just what it says on the tin - OR and AND just don't exist yet for most customers, in spite of being launched over six years ago.
Microsoft Dynamics has its own IFTTT style platform for workflows, but it's not designed for home automation and it's not worth setting out to reinvent the wheel. However, it could form the basis of a native platform in the future.
Native support is offered for a select group of apps including LIFX lighting, Honeywell and Ecobee thermostats and TP-Link Kasa.
However, the total number of platforms supported before this deal was minuscule compared to the likes of Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
The move comes after Apple launched its physical embodiment of Siri, the Apple HomePod. Its launch has been beset by problems ranging from criticism of its poor set up and limited functionality, through to the more heinous crime of leaving a ring on Carly's new coffee table.
With Microsoft not planning any physical embodiment of Cortana at the moment, the company is instead focusing on getting Cortana on as many existing devices as possible, leveraging its dominance in the home.
It will also be available on Amazon Echo devices as a result of a deal with Microsoft.
However, the original deadline for that deal has now passed with no further details on when it's going to happen.
Meanwhile, we found that IFTTT and Cortana only played nicely using US English, but if that is the case, it will more than likely get regionalised quickly. µ
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