Amazon's Alexa gains support for Outlook calendars

Personal calendars are officially supported, but some business calendars also work

Users of Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant can now ask it questions about the contents of their Microsoft-hosted calendars. On Wednesday, the assistant gained the ability to interact with calendars from Outlook.com and Office 365, similar to how it works with Google Calendar.

Amazon didn’t make an announcement for the new feature. When asked about the change, a spokesperson for the company said that it was designed to only work with personal calendars.

That said, it was possible for me to connect my Office 365 calendar, which is provided through an enterprise subscription. When asked about what’s on my schedule, Alexa answered with the contents of my work calendar. It’s unclear if Amazon plans to continue supporting that functionality, and it may break at any time.

Expanding the supported calendars helps make Alexa more appealing to a broader audience. Prior to the change, the virtual assistant only supported checking and adding events to Google Calendar, which limited its utility.

Here’s how it works: users go into the Alexa app, then navigate to Settings > Calendar > Microsoft. The app will ask users to log in with their Microsoft credentials, and after that will sync the calendar with Alexa. After that, users can ask things like “Alexa, what’s on my schedule for today?” and the assistant will provide them with information about what they have booked.

However, anyone who syncs their calendars using Apple’s iCloud will still find that Alexa is unable to help them, and it’s unclear if that will change any time soon. Cortana and Siri are both able to work with iCloud, Google Calendar and Exchange. The Google Assistant’s calendar access depends on which device people are using.

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Blair Hanley Frank

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