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Amazon launches Alexa app for Windows 10 PCs

Amazon today launched an Alexa app for Windows 10 PCs. Available on the Microsoft Store, the voice application allows PC owners to speak to Alexa to set reminders, timers and alarms; create lists and to-dos; track their calendar appointments; get news, weather and other information; play music; listen to podcasts and audio books; control the smart home, and more. The app is another way that Alexa is being unhitched from Echo speakers and other devices that generally stay in the home. Similar to the Alexa app for mobile devices, the Windows 10 app means you can use Alexa for access to content and information when youre traveling, as well as to do things like lock your doors or check your security cameras, for example. The app also offers access to tens of thousands of Alexa skills, says Amazon. However, some features — including video, communications, Spotify and Pandora — are not supported on the Alexa app for Windows 10 at launch. The apps arrival comes shortly after Amazon and Microsoft opened up the Alexa-Cortana integration into public preview, which lets customers call up Cortana through their Echo devices and enable Amazons Alexa on Windows 10 devices and on Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. Some PCs are designated as Alexa Built-In, meaning theyre already tuned for Alexa and youll be able to speak to Alexa hands-free. These include several PCs from Acer, Asus, Dell, HP and Lenovo. The Cortana skill is not currently available through the Alexa for PC app. But it remains available on Echo devices like Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Plus, Echo Show, and Echo Spot, Amazon says. The Alexa app is available for Windows 10 PCs in the U.S., U.K. and Germany, and will be coming to more locations in 2019.

Alexa for PC launches in Windows Store

Want one-tap access to Amazons Alexa on your PC? Starting today, its as easy as installing the new Alexa app. Amazon today announced that the Alexa for PC app is broadly available for Windows 10 devices through the Windows Store in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, with additional markets to come in 2019. Previously, it came preinstalled on select PCs from manufacturers. With Alexa for PC, customers have access to thousands of the same capabilities they already love about Alexa, an Amazon spokesperson told VentureBeat via email. No additional hardware is required, allowing anyone with a compatible device to experience Alexa. Just tap-to-talk to control smart home devices, ask questions, set timers and alarms, manage your calendar … and more. Alexa for PC also provides access to the more than 50,000 third-party skills available from the Alexa Skills Store. (Messaging and music services like Spotify and Pandora, however, arent yet supported.). It uses Microsofts Fluent Design elements, like acrylic panels, and works with Windows 10s dark mode. The Alexa for PC app isnt a hands-free affair, strictly speaking. Unless you have a PC acoustically tuned specifically for Alexa like the Acer Spin 5, Acer Aspire 5, or HP Envy, invoking Amazons assistant requires clicking a button within the app or using a keyboard shortcut. That said, you dont need additional hardware for baseline functionality — it uses the microphones and speakers built into your PC or webcam. Weve reached out to Amazon for clarification on hardware compatibility and will update this article once we hear back. Amazon said that early next year, itll be rolling out additional capabilities that allow users to interact with PCs. Alexa is always getting smarter, so you can expect ongoing updates on top of those as well, a spokesperson said. The Amazon for PC apps rollout comes months after Microsoft and Amazon launched an Alexa-Cortana public preview for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs.  As part of the integration, users can say Hey Cortana, open Alexa to summon Alexa on Windows 10 PCs or Alexa, open Cortana to pull up Cortana on a range of Echo smart speakers. The world is big and so multifaceted, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said of the partnership in August 2017. There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience. More recently, in September, Microsoft introduced Xbox voice control via skills for Cortana and Alexa. Users can power-toggle the console, launch apps and games, play movies, record gameplay, and take screenshots with voice commands.