Following through on its promise to discontinue support for Cortana on mobile devices in early 2021, Microsoft has now shut down support on the digital assistant app on iOS and Android.
As companies were jumping on the digital assistant bandwagon, Microsoft launched its own alternative: Cortana. It proved to be plenty helpful, but Google's and Amazon's dominance in this regard (across platforms, and Siri on iOS) forced Microsoft to make some tough decisions.
Being listened to by "big companies" has been a fear for many for years, and 2019 saw most of those fears realized into actual events.
Microsoft will be discontinuing its Cortana app for iOS and Android in January, at least in select countries. The Verge reports that a new support article has appeared on Microsoft's UK, Canada, and Australia's web site instances notifying users of the pending change.
A United Nations report indirectly accuses smart assistant providers like Apple, Google and Microsoft of reinforcing gender bias by using female assistant voices by default.
Cortana, Microsoft's own personal digital assistant, has been overhauled on iPhone and iPad this morning with a sleek new design that includes a brand-new conversational experience for answers alongside new features such as support for podcasts and music-streaming services like Spotify, iHeartRadio and TuneIn.
Voice assistants like Siri and Google Assistant haven’t been created equal, with each has its own strengths and weaknesses. Amazon and Microsoft seemed to have recognized this when they announced a unique partnership last year that would combine the resources of Alexa and Cortana, respectively, across the two voice platforms. Nearly a year later, that collaboration is being put on display for the public for the first time, according to CNET.
Loup Ventures has published the results of a new survey that looks at the intelligence of the smart assistants currently on the market. The study asked Apple's Siri, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Microsoft's Cortana the same 800 questions. The results were somewhat surprising.
More than two years following the release of Cortana for iPhone on App Store, software maker Microsoft's at long last added a brand new native iPad interface to its digital assistant iOS app.
With Apple's HomePod set to to be released in stores in just a few days time, I thought it would be a great opportunity to take a look at a competing option, the Invoke by Harman Kardon. This Wi-Fi-connected speaker is powered by Microsoft's virtual assistant Cortana.
Available since December 2015 as a native Cortana app for iPhone and iPad, Microsoft's digital assistant today received an update in App Store. Aside from regular bug fixes and performance improvements, this edition of Cortana brings visual changes and some cool new capabilities.
Battle of the smart speakers is intensifying as Microsoft and Harman Kardon announced today a new connected speaker with the Cortana personal assistant built-in and other artificial intelligence features.
Dubbed Invoke, the smart home accessory features premium 360 sound powered by Harman Kardon technology, a “touch to surprise” user interface panel at the top with interactive Cortana lighting and built-in controls, easy setup via Windows 10 or the dedicated Cortana app for iPhone and Android and more.
The metal housing packs in three tweeters, three woofers and and two passive radiators.
With Invoke, Microsoft fans will be able to ask Cortana questions and tell her to play music, as well as check calendar appointments, set reminders, check traffic, get weather, the latest sports scores and news headlines, and much more.
Invoke can be used to control home devices like lights and thermostats using voice. Microsoft says home automation features work with select providers only.
“We are excited to partner with Harman Kardon to create a speaker that combines premium audio and stylish design with the intelligence of Cortana.” said Jordi Ribas, CVP, AI Products at Microsoft. “This is our next step in bringing Cortana to even more devices to help users be more productive wherever they are.”
You'll recall that Samsung acquired Harman International last November.
Microsoft first teased the device in December 2016.
One thing that will set Ivoke apart from rivals is integrated hands-free calling to cell phones, landlines and other Skype-enabled devices through Microsoft's Skype app. Not unlike the Echo range of smart speakers from Amazon, Microsoft's device features seven microphones and far-field technology allowing it to pick up voices from across a noisy room.
Far-field audio technology is based on Harman's beam forming, echo cancellation and noise reduction algorithms to ensure Cortana can hear you, “even in challenging environments.”
The key features on Invoke include:Premium sound—Harman Kardon high-quality sound featuring 3 woofers and 3 tweeters give full range, true 360-degree sound. The 2 passive radiators are tuned to give a solid bass performance from a small enclosure. Cortana—Cortana is your truly personal digital assistant designed to help you be more productive. Cortana can set reminders, make lists, manage calendars, provide answers to questions, and much more. Cortana also works across devices, including PC and mobile, so she’s there whenever you need help. Skype calling—Make and receive hands-free calls to cell phones, landlines, and any Skype-enabled device. Smart home control—Control your smart home devices including lights and thermostat and more. Sonique far-field voice technology—Featuring 7 microphones embedded into the speaker, using Harman’s beam forming, echo cancellation, and noise reduction algorithms to ensure Cortana can hear you, even in challenging environments.
Invoke is scheduled to arrive this fall via select retailers and Microsoft Stores. At launch, the gadget will be offered to customers in the United States, potentially rolling out globally at a later stage. Pricing has yet to be set.
Invoke will be available in Graphite (Black) or Pearl Silver (White).
For additional information, visit harmankardon.com/invoke.
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Apple is thought to have finalized design of its smart speaker that could debut at WWDC.
The device is said to integrate Siri and AirPlay features in a cylindrical form factor akin to Mac Pro sporting a concave top with built-in controls and a speaker mesh portion covering it all.
It will reportedly run a version of iOS and include Beats audio technology with “excellent acoustic performance” powered by seven tweeters, one woofer and possibly the company's W1 wireless chip which debuted in AirPods.