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article imageMicrosoft demonstrates Cortana commitment with new integrations

By James Walker     Feb 19, 2018 in Technology
Microsoft has announced several new integrations for its Cortana digital assistant. The expanded line-up of smart home products is intended to help Cortana catch up with rivals including Alexa and Google Assistant, now widely seen to lead the market.
Microsoft is continuing its push to convince consumers that Cortana's here to stay by debuting a new set of integrations with several smart home providers. After feeling obliged to publicly address criticism of Cortana earlier this year, the company's expanded the AI's home automation skills in a bid to make it more competitive with rivals from Amazon and Google.
Cortana now works with several new smart home products, including ones from Honeywell, TP-Link, LIFX and Geeni. These integrations are available everywhere Cortana is, including on Windows 10, iOS, Android and the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker. To configure them, you need to open the Cortana app and head to the "Connected Home" menu.
Some of the products that are compatible include Honeywell's thermostats, TP-Link's connected smart plugs and Geeni's smart bulbs and surge protectors. You can control the appliances by using Cortana voice commands on any of your mobile devices. Cortana's also intelligent enough to understand which devices you mean when you specify a group, such as "turn off the living room lamps" to turn off only the smart bulbs labelled as being in your living room.
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"Cortana helps make your life easier by making it easy to control your smart home devices from afar," said Microsoft. "Rush out of the house and forget to turn off the lights? No problem, just pull out your phone, open the Cortana app and say, 'Hey Cortana, turn off the lights,' and she’ll take care of it for you."
Microsoft's also launching compatibility between Cortana and the IFTTT automation platform. IFTTT is a service which enables you to set up automated links between different APIs. Using IFTTT, you can now configure custom Cortana voice commands to integrate with other services available on the platform.
IFTTT support will diversify Cortana's available applications by letting users create their own smart home integrations. Both of Cortana's main rivals already have this functionality, with Alexa gaining IFTTT support in 2015 and Google Assistant the following year.
None of Microsoft's new Cortana announcements will singlehandedly make the assistant competitive again. However, the introduction of new third-party integrations will help Microsoft reengage increasingly sceptical consumers. In the wake of CES, Microsoft's had to defend Cortana as Alexa and Google Assistant gain dominance in the smart home. Microsoft's still trying to increase Cortana adoption by bringing the assistant to new platforms and products, a strategy it's continued with its latest announcement.
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