Microsoft Cortana gradually gains ground on Alexa with new integrations



Alexa may be the most familiar name in the smart home game, but competitors are slowly but surely improving their own capabilities in hopes of gaining ground. Most recently, Microsoft’s Cortana announced its compatibility with more smart home providers, as well as If This Then That (IFTTT), making it easier for users to control smart home devices from anywhere at anytime.

In October 2017, Cortana began pushing out integrations with a number of smart home platforms, including Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Philips Hue, Wink, and Insteon. And now, the Microsoft smart assistant is growing that roster yet again with devices from ecobee, Honeywell Lyrics, Honeywell Total Connect Comfort, LIFX, TP-Link Kasa, and Geeni. All of these smart devices can be controlled by way of Cortana on Windows 10, iPhone, Android, or the Harman Kardon Invoke speaker.

You’ll be able to use Cortana much like you would any other smart home assistant. For example, if you’re looking to set the temperature at home while you’re still at work, simply tap Cortana on your PC and say, “Hey Cortana, set the living room thermostat to 72 degrees.” This will trigger your ecobee, Honeywell Lyric, or Honeywell Total Connect Comfort thermostat to instantly adjust the temperature. Or, if you’re running out of your house in the morning and forget to turn off the bedroom lights, simply open the Cortana app on your phone and say, “Hey Cortana, turn off the lights,” and she’ll take care of it.

And thanks to the platform’s integration with slim smart plugs by TP-Link, you can easily turn off plugged-in devices like a space heater or a hair curler. Just say, “Hey Cortana, turn off the heater,” and your TP-Link will automatically shut down (and shut down anything plugged into it).

Perhaps more exciting still is the news that Cortana now works with IFTTT, which works with 600 services from providers across a wide range of specialties. As the Cortana team notes in a blog post, “Using IFTTT, you will be able to customize your experience by creating your own phrases to use with services on IFTTT.” And thanks to Applets, you can trigger multiple actions with a single command. So if you say, “Hey Cortana, movie time” the smart assistant will turn down your Hue lights, turn on your Harmony TV, and set your Nest Thermostat to the right temperature.