Xbox One is getting support for Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft announced on Thursday. You’ll flip a switch in settings, enable whatever “skills” are required for your Amazon Echo device of choice, and you’re off to the races.
More than just turning on the console, Alexa can do a bunch of different things with your Xbox One — launch games, pause that Netflix show you’re watching, and even capture screenshots mid-game.
When the Xbox One launched in 2013 for the astronomical price of $500, it was so expensive because of the pricey camera/microphone combination — the so-called Kinect 2.0.
Kinect offered some pretty impressive features out of the box. You could turn on your Xbox One using your voice (“Xbox On!”) — it would even turn on your TV for you as well. But the $500 price of the console plus Kinect kept potential buyers away, and Microsoft quickly dropped Kinect from the bundle to lower the price.
Over time, as more people bought Xbox One consoles without Kinect, Microsoft quietly hid much of the voice functionality that was intrinsic to the console at launch. Eventually, some of that functionality resurfaced as Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant. If you had a Kinect attached, or some other microphone, you could use Cortana — but that’s a small subset of overall Xbox One users.
But now, with the mass popularity of voice-assisted devices like Amazon’s Echo, Google’s Home, and Apple’s HomePod, the Xbox One adding support for Amazon’s Alexa could smartly repurpose much of the functionality that’s already built-in to the Xbox One. Instead of using an expensive peripheral, owners can use the Amazon Echo devices that they already own and use regularly with their voice.
To learn how to enable your Echo devices to work with your Xbox One, check out these instructions from Microsoft.