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Skype calling is coming to Amazon Echo devices

Amazon Echo
Amazon Echo (Image credit: Windows Central)

Amazon is showing off a whole lot of new Echo goodies today, including everything from a revamped Echo Show to a smart plug and even a microwave. But for Microsoft followers, the company made an interesting announcement in the shadow off all these new devices: Skype calls are coming to an Echo device near you.

Skype integration is made possible by Amazon's choice to open up its communications API to third-party apps, and Skype is the first partner. From Amazon:

We're opening up our communications API to third-party developers.And, we're excited announce that Skype will be the first partner to use these APIs. With this integration, we're expanding the global network of contacts that Alexa customers can reach to the hundreds of millions of people using Skype around the world. Customers can also enjoy Skype's low-cost calling package.

If you're a heavy Skype user, that's sure to be great news, but it leaves Harman Kardon's Cortana-powered Invoke smart speaker in an awkward position that only compounds its struggle to stand out from Amazon's offerings.

The ability to make Skype calls was arguably the only major advantage that Invoke could tout over the Echo line, but that's disappearing with this announcement. It's a win for consumers, to be sure. But it makes it harder to justify an Invoke when compared to the more expansive skillset of the Echo platform.

Perhaps that has something to do with today's $50 fire sale on the Invoke at Best Buy.

This is just the latest example of a partnership between Amazon and Microsoft that has been growing for some time. Alexa and Cortana have joined hands to work with one another, and your Echo will soon be able to act as a voice control input for your Xbox One.

For a rundown on everything Amazon announced today, be sure to check out Android Central's full coverage.

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Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the Editor in Chief for Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl. Got a hot tip? Send it to daniel.thorp-lancaster@futurenet.com.

12 Comments
  • I can not even speak. But I guess this is a shot at discord. For sure. Will it hurt Cortana devices....maybe if we had devices plural that would be a good question.
  • I love the idea of this, but how do these household devices manage "being in a household"? I mean, I don't want my son to use his voice to call me on Skype and have it come through on my PC or Phone showing that his mother is calling...it should use his Skype account.
  • Alexa allows you to add users and train your voice.
  • That I did not know, always wondered why I can not find profiles setup
  • Why did they drop the ball on Cortana... Bah
  • Cortana can do this on both PC/ Invoke
  • They have PC, Android Phones and Invoke, but Echos just increased their hardware base especially with Skype.
  • With the Invoke you used to get free Skype calls to non Skype numbers.. Looks like that is still an advantage over the Alexa devices...
  • True that
  • "Perhaps that has something to do with today's $50 fire sale on the Invoke at Best Buy." Unable to get one within 250 miles radius of Austin for pickup. Because It says you must pickup no shipping and they try to check within 250 miles of your zip code. So, it is not really a fire sale when you can not get a BB with inventory within 250 miles of Austin Texas
  • Same problem for me in New Jersey... And I saw the article on another site before it was up here, and it was early in the morning also, not available within 250 mile radius?not one store? C'mon...
  • This leave a sour taste in the mouth. It makes you wonder what the overall Microsoft strategy is for home automation. This essentially bypasses Cortana altogether, but it does push Skype. I guess we could imagine the weird effect of this action on Harmon Kardon could be excused because Samsung bought that company and deep collaboration was no longer possible there (we don't know). Microsoft lost all the potential virgin ground they could target with the original Kinect and Xbox, though you could argue that without a mobile play it would never fly. Maybe we should face it that Microsoft also lost the home automation wars and move on. The Kinect home experience as described by Jez Corden in one of his articles last week had really awesome potential, if the Kinect itself was shrunken down in two years, detached from Xbox, and sold as the ultimate home automation controller! The real use case scenarios for Microsoft's voice control are being lost (except maybe among special needs users). All Microsoft has on the hardware side is PC (Surface, OEMs) which works best with touch/pen and keyboard/mouse; MR (Hololens, etc.) which works best with gaze, controller, hand gestures; Xbox (controller, soon keyboard/mouse, they lost in voice here) and iOT which is hidden and still a long play. There is no area in which their voice input really has a strong ground to stand on. The promise of a Cortana that you talk to is so far in the rearview mirror that, right now, I can't even recall the last time I said "Hey Cortana" (and I'm using Windows 10 Mobile and PC, both with Cortana turned on). It's a shame really, and I hope someone in Microsoft is letting them see voice is part of a future they will not play in.