With the death of Kinect, some were craving voice commands on Xbox One, but Microsoft’s solutions so far haven’t been as intuitive. Though the company added support for Alexa and Cortana smart speaker voice control, the commands were clunky. “Hey Cortana, tell Xbox to turn on” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.
The Cortana side of things has now been addressed, the Harmon Kardon Invoke now supporting shorter commands. Instead of lengthy sentences, you can now say “Cortana, Turn on the Xbox”. On top of this, Windows Central says the processing time seems faster, for an overall more streamlined experience.
Currently, it seems these commands only work with the Invoke, and not Amazon Echo or other Alexa devices. The Cortana functionality works by setting the Xbox as your preferred device, cutting out the need for extra specification. It’s also absent on PC and mobile, so you won’t be able to use those for Xbox control.
There’s also no way to choose which device is your default. The speaker simply prompts you to add your console. That could be a problem for those with multiple Xbox’s in the same room, or who’d prefer other devices to be the default.
At the very least, though, this shows Microsoft is listening to user feedback. Mobile and desktop support doesn’t seem like a big ask, though Alexa functionality is likely to depend on Amazon, and could take longer.
With Alexa’s in many homes, support like this could go a long way towards delivering on the Xbox’s initial promise. It’s not a feature everyone will utilize, but it does mean you can quickly perform tasks if the controller is away from you or out of battery.