This week, Microsoft gave Cortana users the ability to add their Google account to the digital assistants Notebook so they can access Google Calendar and Gmail.
The ability to log in to Google accounts enables users on Windows 10 to quickly access their information using voice commands on Windows 10 devices and with the new Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker. Of course, these same commands can also be typed into Cortana’s UI on Windows 10 if that is your preferred method of working with your calendar and email.
Over the last few years, personal digital assistants such as Cortana, Siri, and OK Google, have quickly become indispensable tools in our daily routines. At the same time, users have becoming much less concerned with whether a specific platform makes a useful tool; they're far more likely to gravitate to whatever effective app lets them work across their mobile and desktop devices, backed up by an access-it-anywhere cloud.
So it's not surprising Cortana's new friendliness toward Google happened. It goes right along with Microsoft and Amazon's planned digital assistant partnership, where Alexa and Cortana, could access each other’s skill libraries and share information available on each platform. These continued efforts help to build out a platform agnostic approach for a user’s ability to access their own data and accounts using their device/system of choice.
Of the big three, I think Microsoft continues to make the largest and most obvious efforts when it comes to the mobility of the experience because they are always publishing apps for Android and iOS that gives users easier access to their data across the various ecosystems. However, it is great to see this move with Google because there are a lot of people who use that platform for both personal and work related activity. Unfortunately, it does not seem that we are seeing similar efforts from Apple to provide Siri abilities to access our information from other platforms.
So I tried out the new integration between Cortana and Google. Although there is no published list of commands that can be used with this configuration, I have come up with several based on trial and error using the Harman Kardon Invoke.
Before you can dive into the voice commands you must first connect your Google account to Cortana. To get started with this process just press the Windows Key on a Windows 10 based system and type in Cortana Notebook in the search box.
Select the I can help with this result at the top of the search results to open Cortana’s Notebook.
Note: As of today you cannot log in to Google accounts using the Cortana app on Android or iOS devices or access these commands with those apps.
Once you have Cortana’s Notebook opened select Connected Services.
On the Connected Services tab select + Add a service
Select Gmail from the list of available account types
Select Connect and then provide the information necessary to log in to your Google accounts
I am not showing the screen here, but these are the permissions Cortana needs when you log in to Google accounts:
-- Read, send, delete, and manage your email
-- View and manage the files in your Google Drive
-- Manage your contacts
-- Manage your calendars
Here are some of the commands you can try with Cortana to interact with your Google Calendar and Gmail. Note that the terms Google and Gmail appear to be completely interchangeable in these commands and remember to preface each of these commands with Hey Cortana. So you'll say:
-- Hey, Cortana. What is on my Google Calendar?
-- Hey, Cortana. Add a meeting to my Google Calendar.
-- Hey, Cortana. Add a meeting to my Google Calendar at 4 today.
-- Hey, Cortana. What is my next event on my Google Calendar?
-- Hey, Cortana. What meetings do I have this (afternoon, morning, today) on my Google Calendar?
-- Hey, Cortana. Cancel my (meeting name) on Google Calendar.
-- Hey, Cortana. Do I have any new Gmail?
-- Hey, Cortana. Change my (meeting name) on Google Calendar. *
* A word of warning: Cortana seems to get stuck in a what time is your event? loop with this command.
I also tried to schedule a meeting using a contact I have in Google but Cortana was unable to grab that information for some reason and the process failed. These bugs should be addressed overtime and result in the voice command process smoothing out.
Let us know how your interactions between Cortana and your Google accounts go as you try out this new feature.