Yesterday, Amazon launched an initiative advocating for hardware to support Alexa, Cortana, and several other virtual assistants all at once. It’s called the Voice Interoperability Initiative, and Microsoft is already on board, but Google, Apple, and Samsung have yet to be convinced.
More than 30 companies have joined in the initiative so far. Participating chip manufacturers include Intel, Qualcomm, and MediaTek. Other partnership supporters include Tencent, Baidu, BMW, Bose, Harman, Sonos, and Sony Audio Group. Even Spotify, Salesforce, and Verizon are on board.
According to Reuters, Amazon approached Google, but the Mountain View company has not had enough time to evaluate the proposal. A spokesperson said Google is always interested in collaborating, but it needs to more thoroughly review the details of the initiative.
Even though Amazon wants devices to support several virtual assistants, we have yet to hear initial responses from Apple and Samsung. It’s hard to imagine Apple’s Siri voice assistant coming to any hardware device developed outside of its walled garden. Samsung’s Bixby assistant has yet to convince the masses of its value, but the South Korean tech company still seems to believe it will. Samsung could see this as an opportunity to get Bixby in more people’s hands.
Microsoft, on the other hand, has played nice with Amazon before. Their two virtual assistants can already communicate with one another, so it makes sense Cortana is already included in the initiative.
We have no idea when these devices would come to market. Manufacturers still need to develop them. To do that properly, they need to know which assistants the devices can support and which ones they can’t. Hopefully, we will hear formal responses from Google, Samsung, and Apple soon.