Turn any Windows PC or laptop into a smart speaker with Alexa app

Turn any Windows PC or laptop into a smart speaker with Alexa app

Computers can be transformed into smart speakers with a mere app.

Both laptops and PCs operating on Windows 10 can now be enhanced with AI assistant, Alexa, from this week.

It comes after the voice-activated product was made available on the Microsoft store for users in the UK, US and Germany.

Alexa portable for use both inside and outside the home.

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Virtual assistant in an instant: Users in UK, US and Germany can download the voice-activated function without charge

Virtual assistant in an instant: Users in UK, US and Germany can download the voice-activated function without charge

Some Windows PCs will already be compatible with the program's 'wake word' functionality, meaning people can use it by simply saying its name – much like separate speakers.

But others want to create a desktop shortcut and manually open it up.

Either way, it wants to allow users to control smart home devices, play music, organize their diary and set personal reminders.

It wants to tell jokes, provide weather forecasts and offer food recipes.

Unfortunately, the Alexa app – which is free – does have limited facilities.

For example, it currently does not operate Spotify or Pandora, nor does it host video and telephone calls.

However, a number of PC-specific features are expected to be added in early 2019.

Compatible: Some Windows PCs will instantly operate the program's 'wake word' functionality, meaning people can use Alexa's hands-free by simply saying its name

Compatible: Some Windows PCs will instantly operate the program's 'wake word' functionality

Limits: The app does run some function - for example, it currently does not operate Spotify or Pandora, nor will it host video and telephone calls, but more features are expected in 2019

Limits: The app does run some function – for example, it currently does not operate Spotify or Pandora, nor will it host video and telephone calls, but more features are expected in 2019

Windows already has its own virtual assistant, Cortana, but Alexa is more established and well-known. Not least because it was first on the market.

Alexa for PC, Alexa said, 'Amazon said in a statement.

'Just tap to talk to, ask questions, set timers and alarms, manage your calendar, access thousands of skills, and more.'

BATTLE OF THE HOME AI: HOW DO GOOGLE AND AMAZON'S SPEAKERS COMPARE?

Google's $ 130 (£ 105) Home speaker is triggered by the phrase 'Hey Google' while Amazon's Echo uses 'Alexa'.

Amazon's smart speaker is available in two versions – the full-sized $ 180 (£ 145) echo shown here, and a smaller, $ 50 (£ 40) version called the Echo Dot.

Amazon Echo relies on Microsoft's Bing search engine and Wikipedia, while Google Home uses the company's own Google Search.

Both Home and Echo are constantly listening for commands, but Google and Amazon say nothing gets passed back to them until they hear a keyword – 'OK, Google' for Home and 'Alexa' for Echo.

Google's Assistant software is therefore ready to answer follow-up questions on the same topic, in a near-conversation style, but Echo as yet can not.

However, Amazon's Alexa software has some third-party devices around the home.

A light comes on to remind you that it's listening.

You can turn off the microphone temporarily, too.

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