Xbox One users are getting a new way to interact with their gaming console, with expanded voice support rolling out for the Cortana and Alexa voice assistants.
The new feature, Xbox Skill, allows users to use any Cortana or Alexa-enabled device to connect to their Xbox console – meaning you can use an Amazon Echo or Windows 10 PC to navigate the Xbox UI, power and volume settings, launch games and apps, control Mixer playback, and take screenshots mid-game.
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The feature builds on prior voice commands features available through Kinect or Xbox controller headsets. It’s currently rolling out to members of Xbox’s Insider program, a free service that rolls out early previews of new Xbox features and content to your console, and is likely to come to the wider community soon after.
Microsoft’s vision for the Xbox console hopes it can become as much of a home media device as it is a gaming console – whatever your view on the matter – and the increased integration with other smart home devices can only help the console achieve this.
If you can’t beat ‘em
Some may express surprise at Microsoft opening the door to a competing smart assistant, given the existence of the Windows assistant, Cortana.
Named after the popular AI character in the Xbox-exclusive Halo series, Cortana has struggled to gain the same traction as its Amazon counterpart, despite coming pre-installed in Windows 10 devices – which also received Alexa integration earlier in the year.
But with an ever-widening range of Alexa-compatible gadgets, it means users will actually be able to gain the benefits of an integrated smart home interface, even if further weakens the argument for Cortana’s ongoing relevance.
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Henry is a freelance technology journalist, and former News & Features Editor for TechRadar, where he specialized in home entertainment gadgets such as TVs, projectors, soundbars, and smart speakers. Other bylines include Edge, T3, iMore, GamesRadar, NBC News, Healthline, and The Times.