Apple has Siri. Amazon has Alexa. Google has Assistant. Samsung has… Bixby, I guess. And Microsoft has Cortana. But Microsoft’s voice assistant never really took off the same way as its competition, despite coming pre-loaded on millions of Windows PCs.
Recently Microsoft announced it was killing its standalone Cortana apps for smartphones. And now it looks like the only smart speaker ever to ship with Cortana integration is experiencing technical difficulties.
According to a bunch of reports in a Microsoft Answers thread, Harman Kardon Invoke users have stopped working in the past few days
It’s possible that the outage was temporary — according to a reddit post from a user whose Invoke speakers started experiencing problems a few days ago, the issues seem to have been resolved this morning.
But with Microsoft largely pulling back on Cortana for non-Windows devices, I can’t help but wonder if the recent issues are just a foreshadowing of things to come.
With Harman Kardon audio, a 7-mic array, and Microsoft’s voice assistant software, when the Invoke launched for $200 in 2017, it looked like the first shot in a battle to take on Alexa and Google Assistant in the smart speaker space.
But now users report that the speaker has stopped responding to voice command, fails to control smart home devices, and on’t set alarms.
I guess the good news is that the Invoke also functions as a Bluetooth speaker, so it should still work as a dumb speaker if nothing else. That’s probably not much comfort to folks who paid full price the device. But the Invoke has been discontinued for a while, and these days it sells for around $50 on eBay. So if you paid less than full price, I suppose the fact that it’s may become less useful as opposed to useless might be some comfort.
I bought this speaker for its audio quality at $45. It is indeed top notch. I can’t regret that purchase. Cortana was dumb from the very beginning so you really don’t lose nothing there. I’m still hoping that MS enables full integration with Alexa or some third party firmware appears to flash Alexa or Google assistan on this device (it has a USB port for services purposes).
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