Microsoft Cortana Now Works with IFTTT and Additional Smart Home Devices
Microsoft Cortana is often overlooked when voice assistants are discussed. However, a few minutes using Cortana shows it is a very capable voice assistant with a strong feature set. Its biggest problem is lack of distribution beyond Windows PCs. The Harman Kardon Invoke has not been a big selling smart speaker and the Cortana app for iOS and Android appears to be lightly used.
There are over 140 million monthly Cortana users which is a larger number than Amazon Alexa users today. However, the users are mostly tied to their computers and use cases Cortana can execute are limited. At the end of 2017, Cortana only boasted 235 third party skills compared to over 25,000 for Amazon Alexa and 1,719 for Google Assistant. And, Cortana only had smart home integrations with products from five manufacturers compared to hundreds for its main rivals.
Bringing IFTTT, Honeywell, TP-Link and ecobee to Cortana
Microsoft is addressing the functionality and use case limitation by announcing integration with IFTTT and several new smart home devices. On Friday, Microsoft said that Cortana is now integrated with devices from ecobee, TP-Link, Honeywell, LIFX and Geeni. These smart home devices join previous Cortana integrations with Samsung Smart Things, Nest, Philips Hue, Wink and Insteon. However, the IFTTT integration may be more significant.
IFTTT stands for the logic sequence “if this, then that.” There are currently 39 IFTTT applets that support Cortana. Applets are described as small applications that enable new functionality. Current Cortana applets range from sending a message to your Comcast TV or BMW to numerous smart home routines. Users can also create triggers that elicit a specific response from Cortana for certain phrases or work to build new applets. There are hundreds of IFTTT applets for Alexa and Google Assistant so you can expect Cortana users to have many more options over time.
Cortana faces substantial challenges in the voice assistant market. It lacks momentum and doesn’t appear to have engendered fierce user loyalty. However, the voice assistant was recently included in a Chinese language smart speaker and new integrations like the one with IFTTT are definitely steps in the right direction.