Microsoft announced in September that Skype calling would come to devices with Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant by the end of this year, and it’s finally made good on that promise.
Amazon today confirmed to The Verge that starting this week, Alexa users will be able to make outgoing Skype voice and video calls, accept incoming calls, and make calls to domestic and international numbers via Skype’s eponymous SkypeOut service. Saying something like “Alexa, call John on Skype” or “Alexa, call 217-804-7734 on Skype” will place a call, while answering an incoming call is as easy as responding “Alexa, answer.”
Not all Alexa devices will support all features, of course. Skype is only compatible with devices in Amazon’s Echo lineup, including the Echo, Echo (2018), Echo Plus, Echo Plus (2018), Echo Dot (2018), Echo Show, Echo Show (2018), and Echo Spot. Video calls only work on devices with screens, like Amazon’s Echo Show and Echo Spot. And Alexa users only get 200 free minutes of calls in 34 countries — they’ll have to pony up for additional talk time.
Still, setup is simple enough. To get started, launch the Alexa app on your platform of choice (iOS, Android, or Fire OS), head to Settings > Communication > Skype and sign in with your Skype account.
Today’s announcement comes a week following the general availability the Alexa for PC app through the Windows Store, and days after Microsoft began selling Echo devices in its retail stores in the U.S.
Microsoft and Amazon’s partnership didn’t blossom overnight. In August, the two companies launched an Alexa-Cortana public preview for Echo speakers and Windows 10 PCs. As part of the latter deal, users can say “Hey Cortana, open Alexa” to summon Alexa on Windows 10 PCs or “Alexa, open Cortana” to pull up Cortana on a range of Echo smart speakers.
More recently, in September, Microsoft introduced Xbox voice control via skills for Cortana and Alexa. Users can power-toggle the console, launch apps and games, play movies, record gameplay, and take screenshots with voice commands.
“The world is big and so multifaceted,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said of the partnership in August 2017. “There are going to be multiple successful intelligent agents, each with access to different sets of data and with different specialized skill areas. Together, their strengths will complement each other and provide customers with a richer and even more helpful experience.”