Cortana can do a lot of stuff, but she’s not quite as powerful as more mature voice assistants like Alexa or Google Home. But Microsoft has finally added support for smarthome devices, so you can control Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Insteon, and Wink devices right from your PC.
This is especially useful if you turn on “Hey Cortana”, so you can treat your computer like an Amazon Echo of sorts—that way, you can turn devices on and off with a quick voice command, no clicking required.
NOTE: At the time of this writing, this feature is likely still in the initial rollout stage, so if you don’t see it on your PC yet, check back soon—it should likely appear soon.
To connect your respective smarthome accounts to Cortana, open up your Start menu and start typing something to bring up Cortana.
Click the “Notebook” icon in the right sidebar (it’s the third one from the top). Find the entry for “Connected Home” and click on it.
You’ll be greeted with a spartan menu containing one switch: “Enable Connected Home”. Flip that switch to “On”.
You may be prompted to log into your Microsoft Account—if so, do that now.
When that’s done, you’ll be shown a list of compatible smarthome ecosystems. At the time of launch, Cortana supports Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, Insteon, and Wink. Click on one to set it up—we’ll use Hue as an example for this post.
On the next page, click the “Connect” button.
You’ll be prompted to log into the corresponding account for the service you selected. Go ahead and do so.
Once logged in successfully, you should see the “Connect” button become a “Disconnect” button. Click the Back arrow to go back to the main Connected Home page.
You should see, under the service you set up, the word “Connected”. Go ahead and click the microphone button in the bottom right-hand corner to try and say a command!
If all goes well (and your microphone is working properly), Cortana should understand your command and perform the spoken action.
These five services aren’t a bad start, but hopefully we’ll see even more be added to Cortana in the near future.