Microsoft will be allowing Xbox Insiders to test Alexa support on the Xbox One from today. The company is releasing an Xbox Skill for Alexa that will allow Echo, Sonos, and other Alexa-powered devices to use an Xbox One. According to Xbox's Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb, those in the Xbox Insider program will be able to power on an Xbox One, control volume, and launch games using Alexa. At the moment this is restricted to the US. The Xbox Skill will also work with Cortana, Microsoft's own digital assistant.
"For example, if you have the Skill enabled on your Echo and you’re a part of the Insider preview, just say 'Alexa, start Rocket League.' and this command will automatically turn on your console, sign you in, and launch your game," wrote Harrison Hoffman, Senior Program Manager, Xbox on the official Xbox website. Further on in the post, he noted that the rollout will be staggered.
"We will be rolling the Xbox Skill out to Xbox Insider rings gradually. If the Digital Assistant setting is visible on your console in Settings - > Devices, then you are currently eligible to test the Xbox Skill. If it doesn’t appear, then please be patient as we are working quickly to add more Insider rings to the beta," the post says.
With Microsoft killing off Kinect, integrating with the likes of Alexa is a shrewd move. How useful or warranted it ends up being though, will be a point of interest for the months to come. The possibility of Alexa gracing the Xbox One was first reported prior to E3 2018.
However, is this what the Xbox One needs at the moment? With a glaring lack of exclusives, is this what Microsoft needs to give the console a fighting chance? Granted it takes less time to integrate already existing tech such as Amazon Alexa, but it does little to solve the fact outside of backwards compatibility, the reasons to own an Xbox One grow fewer and fewer until some of its recent studio acquisitions manage to release solid Xbox One exclusives.
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