Microsoft’s Xbox One Enables Google Assistant, One Year After Alexa


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Microsoft is connecting another voice assistant to their Xbox One gaming console. One year after adding Alexa and Cortana support, Google Assistant is now also available to the public in beta mode starting today. Xbox explained in their press release that community feedback played a role in expanding the device’s voice assistant options, as customer preferences ultimately drive their decisions.

Google Assistant support will run through other enabled devices, like the smartphone app or Google Home, rather than on the Xbox One. To gain access users must join the “Xbox for Google Assistant Beta” group, where they can find step-by-step instructions. As of now, the beta is only available in English but additional languages will be added once the voice capabilities officially launch later this fall.

Xbox suggests users try some of these actions as they familiarize themselves with Google Assistant interactions:

  • “Hey Google, play Gears 5 on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, turn on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, turn off Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, launch YouTube on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, pause on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, resume on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, volume up on Xbox.”
  • “Hey Google, take a screenshot on Xbox.”

Learning from Customer Feedback

One of the key improvements of the Google Assistant integration overall is that users can name their Xbox consoles different names, allowing the Google Assistant to know which Xbox the user is trying to control. According to comments in the sub-reddit thread on the beta program, this was a consistent issue with the Alexa and Cortana integrations. In addition to listening to feedback regarding controlling multiple consoles, it seems that many Xbox owners wanted Google Assistant onboard. The sub-reddit thread is filled with comments from pleased customers, many who are loyal to Google Assistant or in one commenter’s words, “had already heavily invested in Google Assistant.” Others were happy to finally pair their Xbox with their other smart home devices and to add controlling the console to a Google Assistant Routine. The sub-reddit thread for the beta Google Assistant Xbox integration demonstrates that consumers are already choosing sides when it comes to voice assistants, especially when it comes to the smart home. Microsoft’s decision to add Google Assistant seems to be increasing overall customer satisfaction already. It can also enhance the overall gaming experience by playing nice with both, as voice app and video game developers have already taken advantage of the Alexa integration to do so.

Voice Interaction Can Enhance Gameplay

Fortnite is among the top competitive video games worldwide, reporting 250 million players as of March 2019. When a 2018 Xbox Update was released last year, so was the Xbox skill for Alexa that assisted gamers in launching Fortnite. While Fornite maker Epic Games has not developed their own skill for the franchise, many individual developers have uploaded popular skills that are available to the public and are well-received according to reviews. UK-based Fortnite player and software developer, Jamie Grossman, made headlines last December as he integrated a private Alexa skill and smart home devices to assist him in gameplay. His rationale was that combining a voice assistant and smart home technology would enable deeper immersion into Fornite and improve his game.

Game maker Activision employed Alexa to augment one of the most popular video games worldwide, Call of Duty: WWII. The skill goes well beyond a simple information service related to the game. It tells you performance stats and whether your friends are online while also offering player tips on how to become better at the game. Other video game titles have also launched Alexa skills with various approaches, but Activision considered how the skill could be used to improve gameplay. In that way, the Alexa skill, as a coach, becomes an extension of the product as opposed to a standalone marketing gimmick.

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