Microsoft doesn’t want its users to have to waste any time in getting the attention of its digital assistant Cortana.
Microsoft dropped the word “hey” from the voice command that wakes up Cortana on smart speakers and other devices. Before the change, Cortana was summoned on smart speakers with the phrase “Hey, Cortana.” But now, as first noted by The Verge, users only have to utter “Cortana” to wake up the digital assistant.
This case of brevity brings Cortana more in line with Amazon’s Alexa, using just a single word to wake the digital assistant. Two-word phrases, either “Hey, Google” or “OK Google,” activate the Google Assistant.
Amazon’s Alexa is the early leader in the competitive digital assistant market, and Google is making a big push in that direction. Microsoft is playing the long game with Cortana because the company thinks the digital assistant market is only in its infancy.
Cortana is starting to show up in more third party devices. More than two years after the debut of Amazon Echo, and a year after the release of Google Home, the first Cortana-powered smart speaker made its debut. In January, Microsoft announced a variety of new integrations and partnerships to increase its clout in the smart home arena.
But Cortana’s most notable partner is, in fact, its competitor Alexa. The surprise deal, announced last summer, focuses on letting each voice assistant leverage the unique capabilities of the other. Long-term, the goal is a deep integration in which each assistant simply knows to use the other for a specific task.