Published: Tue, January 09, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Preston Stone

Amazon is making a major play for Windows PCs

Amazon is making a major play for Windows PCs

Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership last August relating to their digital assistants, allowing Alexa and Cortana to communicate with each other to carry out requests.

Enabled by Intel Smart Sound Technology, an integrated audio DSP (Digital Signal Processor) built to handle audio, voice, and speech interactions, many of Acer's latest notebooks and desktops will support Amazon Alexa and respond to voice commands quickly while offering high fidelity audio without impacting system performance.

Some notebook editions such as Spin 5 and Switch 7 Black Edition powered with 4 digital microphones and Acer Purified Voice can activate Alexa up to 9ft from the user, and the ones with dual microphones within3 ft from the user.

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. Using voice, customers can "control music, timers, alarms, smart home devices and more", the release said, with a custom LED that will let the user know when Alexa is listening. Several OEMs, including Bose, Jabra, iHome, Beyerdynamic, Bowers and Wilkins are already working on voice-controlled Alexa experiences on their products and device makers are invited to signup to be notified when the Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit is made available later this year. However, not all Alexa features will be available at launch, so users will have to wait even longer to be able to access security camera feeds, use Amazon's calling and messaging services, and use streaming services like Spotify. Since all of these devices have a screen or can be connected to a monitor, Alexa will be able to display information in addition to providing audio feedback. Alexa will be coming to select Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks, as well as Aspire all-in-one PCs starting from Q1 2018.

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Google Assistant, meanwhile, has expanded from Android devices to Google Home speakers and third-party devices, as well.

A healthy selection of top PC brands are already on board with the scheme, including HP, Lenovo, Asus and Acer.

He says Alexa makes it "simple to interact with your smart home, get news or weather set times and more".

As of mid-December, Amazon was said to have a roster of an estimated 25,000 Alexa skills, while Cortana was said to be on 230. "This is a big step toward making Alexa available wherever customers might need her".

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