There have been rumors of Microsoft releasing its own hardware for cloud gaming through its Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service for many years but now it’s actually happening. The company announced that it is building a standalone streaming device that can be plugged into a TV for xCloud gaming. It also announced that TV apps for xCloud, which currently only supports mobile devices, are coming soon. Read more ›
Amazon and Microsoft have announced that Skype calling is coming to Alexa. Amazon Echo smart speakers will be able to make Skype voice calls, while Echo Shows will also be able to make Skype video calls. Those who pay for SkypeOut will also be able to use Alexa to call mobile and landlines through Skype, although that funcitonality is already available for free directly through Alexa’s default calling capabillities. The integration will simply work by saying “Alexa, call [contact] on Skype.” Microsoft says it will arrive on Echo devices later this year.
Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership last year that would allow Alexa to summon Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-assistant, and let Cortana summon Alexa. At this year’s Microsoft Build conference, Microsoft showed off what that integration will look like in the video embedded above. Read more ›
Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana voice assistants will soon be able to grant access to each other. The two companies announced a partnership today that will allow Alexa users to say “Alexa, open Cortana” to speak to Microsoft’s voice assistant and Cortana users will be able to say “Cortana, open Alexa” to speak to Amazon’s voice assistant. With Alexa being consumer/entertainment focused and Cortana being more business/productivity focused, this partnership should pan out well without stepping on each other’s toes. Through Cortana, Alexa customers will be able to use “unique features like booking a meeting or accessing work calendars, reminding you to pick up flowers on your way home, or reading your work email.” Access will be made available later this year and should work through any Alexa-enabled device, including the Amazon Fire TV.
Yesterday was the start of WWDC, Apple’s annual developer conference, where they revealed some new features coming to the Apple TV. It was also the start of E3, the big gaming conference where Microsoft talked about the Xbox’s future and Sony talked about the PlayStation’s future. Here’s a summary of the announcements related to streaming media. Read more ›
Microsoft is reportedly planning to unveil a pair of “Xbox TV” devices next month at E3. One device will be similar to a Chromecast and require an Xbox One to stream content to it. It would allow Xbox One owners to use their console, including playing games, on a second TV without having to move the console. The second, and more interesting device, is more inline to be a competitor to the Amazon Fire TV and other similar streaming devices. While it too will have the ability to stream Xbox One games from a main console, it will also be able to install universal apps and basic games from the Microsoft store.
Since the Xbox One console has apps for most of the major streaming services, it’s safe to assume an “Xbox TV” device will as well. The Xbox One does have an Amazon Video app. While the app does not allow you to purchase content directly, you can stream Prime content and Amazon Video content that has been purchased elsewhere. An “Xbox TV” device that is compatible with the existing Amazon Video app for the Xbox One would be the third option for consumers looking for a streaming box with an official Amazon Video app. The other two being Fire TV and Roku devices.
Microsoft has just released Xim, their first app for the Amazon Fire TV platform. In the most basic sense, Xim allows you to easily cast photos to your Fire TV from any Android, iOS, or Windows Phone device. The smartphone version of the app has been available since October but Microsoft today released various “big screen” versions for the Amazon Fire TV, Fire TV Stick, Chromecast, Apple TV, and Xbox One.
The app allows you to cast photos to your TV from their smartphone app. Swiping, panning, and zooming the photos on your smartphone will be mirrored on the TV allowing more control than other photo sharing apps. The app can also display photos from Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox, and OneDrive in addition to the photos stored on your smartphone. Additionally, you can invite anyone via email or phone number to contribute their own photos to a temporary Xim group that automatically expires over time.