With all of the CES news this week, you could have easily missed this non-announcement from Amazon and Microsoft. Neither company was promoting Alexa’s forthcoming app for Microsoft Windows 10. However, PC manufacturers that are shipping Windows 10 with the new Alexa app were more forthcoming.
Acer was the first to announce the Amazon collaboration stating that Alexa will be coming to “select Aspire, Spin, Switch and Swift notebooks, as well as Aspire all-in-one PCs starting from Q1 2018. Amazon Alexa will initially be available in the US via an update through Acer Care Center, while wider support is expected to be rolled out mid-2018. It says a lot that about both PC manufacturers and the marketplace momentum of Alexa that the app integration merits a standalone press release.
Just Like Alexa in a Smart Speaker
I got to spend a little bit of time playing with Alexa on HP’s Wave PC and it works quite well. If you are familiar with Alexa on your smartphone, the assistant works exactly the same on the PC.
The computer I tested this on has microphones and an indicator light built in so that you do not need to manually launch Alexa for it to work. While you can hit cntrl+shift+a to launch the assistant, simply saying ‘Alexa’ worked every time, even in the noisy conference room.
Alexa App Only Shipping With Certain PCs
Several news outlets report that Alexa isn’t generally available for any Windows 10 user. You likely will need to purchase a device that has the Alexa app for Windows 10 onboard. In addition to Acer and HP, The Verge indicates that Lenovo and Asus will also bring out laptop and desktops with the Alexa app in 2018. PC Magazine reports that Acer will be the first to ship with Alexa in Q1 2018. The magazine also said:
“Supported models include the latest Aspire 5, Aspire 7, Spin 3, Spin 5, Switch 7 Black Edition, Swift 3, Swift 5, Swift 7, Aspire Z24, Aspire U27, and Aspire S24. Notebooks with Acer Purified.Voice and four digital microphones, like the Switch 7 Black Edition and Spin 5, will support Alexa from up to 9 feet away. Machines with dual mics will work from 3 feet away…Alexa PCs will tap into Intel Smart Sound Technology.”
Alexa Gets a New Platform
The key news here is that Alexa gets a new platform for distribution. This is not related to the August announcement that revealed a forthcoming integration between Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistant. Instead, this appears to be Amazon working directly with a few PC manufacturers to capture additional distribution for Alexa. No word yet on when Alexa and Cortana will finally be connected.
Cover image credit: AFTVnews