THOSE FEARFUL OF a gradual AI takeover should be wary with the pace at which Amazon's Alexa has gone from living solely in Echo devices to calling anything with circuits home.
Its latest holiday home is Windows 10, and it can be downloaded today in the UK, US and Germany, with more locations to follow in 2019. This essentially makes your computer a giant, oversized Echo Show, with the ability to set alarms, track calendar appointments, get the news, hear rib-tickling jokes and control the smart home.
If you can hear a distant sobbing noise at this point, it's probably coming from Cortana - Microsoft's own virtual assistant that lives in every Windows 10 PC, optimistically waiting to be called upon. It can do everything that Alexa can, only a little bit worse.
In fact, in a slightly weird job share, Microsoft and Amazon lets you call on one digital assistant to summon the other - a deal that worked far better for Amazon than it did for Microsoft. After all, who really uses voice assistants when they're sat at a PC with a far more convenient keyboard and mouse to use?
That may mean that the Alexa Windows 10 app goes as unloved as Cortana. It certainly would be an interesting stress test as to where people find virtual assistants useful if the Windows 10 app didn't have certain limitations.
At launch, Alexa for Windows won't be able to access Spotify or Pandora, which takes away about 90 per cent of our usage. Worse, 'wake word' support will only work on some computers, which feels like a deal breaker.
"Doesn't give you access to the Smart Home functionality, or installing Skills, or any of the other things you want for an Alexa app," reads one scathing review. "This is literally just a replacement for an Echo. On your computer. Which nobody asked for."
Cortana, did you just snigger? µ
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