Xbox-specific Alexa skills let you start console with your voice

Alexa owners are familiar with the skills used to do everything from setting a timer to scheduling an entire routine, but Microsoft’s Cortana is capable of similar things. Now the two services are coming together through the Xbox One. Similar to the late Kinect hardware, these new skills allow users to interact with their Xbox One directly through their voice.

The functionality includes the ability to launch games, adjust the volume level, start Mixer broadcasts, snap screenshots, and even more. More skills will be added over time, but the initial abilities are as follows:

  • Power the console on or off
  • Launch games and apps
  • Start and stop Mixer broadcasts
  • Media and volume control
  • Quick access to system destinations
  • Capture screenshots and clips

Using the abilities is as simple as saying, “Alexa, start Halo,” or “Cortana, open Netflix.” If the console is turned off, giving Alexa a command to start a specific game will turn the console on, sign the player in, and launch the game.

To enable compatibility with Alexa, users have to sign into their Amazon account and then link it to their Microsoft account.

To enable compatibility with Cortana, users have to sign into the Xbox One they want to control and then sign into their Microsoft account and link the skill on a Windows 10 PC.

These features are still in early access, so there are a few known bugs that have yet to be worked out. Commands to turn on the console may not work every time. If you want to start a specific game, you will need to say, “Alexa, start game on Xbox.” All commands that follow this can be shortened to, “Alexa, start game.” Multiple consoles are supported, but users report inconsistent responses.

These skills are currently only available to Xbox Insiders in the United States, but Microsoft plans to extend this functionality to everyone as the bugs are worked out. For now, Xbox Insiders in the Alpha Skip Ahead, Alpha, and Beta rings can begin to try out these features. This comes as great news for many Xbox One players that lament the loss of the Kinect and its voice commands.

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