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Microsoft will remove Cortana from Harman Kardon Invoke and Surface Headphones in 2021

In February, Microsoft revealed that it will be slowly phasing out Cortana performance in cell and different gadgets, implying that the third-party Harman Kardon Invoke could be amongst them. On Friday, Microsoft clarified that these modifications will happen in early 2021, together with the Invoke—however the firm will supply present playing cards of as much as $50 to sweeten the deal.

Microsoft mentioned Friday that it’s eliminating the third-party Cortana expertise—Cortana plug-ins that might be used to ask for a Fitbit exercise abstract, for instance—by September 7. In January, 2021, the cell Cortana app for iOS and Android will cease working.  And in “early 2021,” Microsoft says, the Cortana performance for the Invoke may even stop to exist.

There’s additionally yet another, surprising change to Microsoft’s machine integration. Microsoft mentioned it plans to take away a lot of the Cortana capabilities from the first-generation Floor headphones as properly.

Microsoft has publicly shifted Cortana from the general-purpose assistant she was when Home windows 10 launched to a business-minded AI, or a “transformational AI-powered assistant expertise,” as Microsoft now places it. Maybe extra importantly, Cortana is being repositioned not as an AI that powers Microsoft’s Floor and different {hardware}, however as a part of Microsoft’s different providers. “Microsoft is on a journey to carry Cortana to Microsoft 365 experiences that can assist you keep linked and productive—effectively and securely,” the corporate defined it in considered one of its assist paperwork describing the brand new modifications. 

What Cortana going away means for the Invoke

Andrew Shuman, the company vice chairman answerable for Cortana, informed PCWorld in Could that Invoke customers largely performed music, slightly than use it because the good speaker Microsoft initially envisioned. “With the Invoke, all we noticed with any reliability was enjoying music,” Shuman mentioned. “And truthfully, it was ‘play artist’ or ‘play style’ as a result of folks can’t bear in mind the precise option to say a music title or an album title or any of this stuff.”

The modifications to the Invoke might be made through a firmware replace that can roll out across the finish of January, 2021, Microsoft mentioned. That replace will take away the Cortana performance, however might be designed to transition the Invoke from a “good” to a “dumb” speaker—leaving all of its capabilities intact, however connecting through Bluetooth as a substitute. 

Mark Hachman / IDG

The cool blue ring that signified that Cortana was on and listening might be one of many issues Microsoft removes from the Invoke.

“The firmware replace might be delivered routinely to gadgets linked to WiFi inside six months of its launch,” Microsoft mentioned, not specifying what would occur if the Invoke wasn’t linked to Wi-Fi for six months. “As soon as the Invoke is up to date, Cortana will now not be accessible on the machine.” The Invoke might be up to date additional through the Cortana Gadget Setup app on Home windows 10.

In any case, Microsoft mentioned it will supply a $50 present card to Invoke house owners, with one catch: You have to have triggered the Cortana performance after July 31, 2019, and earlier than Microsoft’s announcement on Friday. If that’s the case, you’ll be able to go to the Invoke/Cortana assist web page after which apply for a present card on the redemption website. You’ll want to provide the Invoke’s MAC tackle, which is printed on the underside of the unit.

Floor Headphones lose Cortana, too

Microsoft can also be providing a $25 present card to those that purchased the first-generation Floor Headphones, with the identical proviso: You have to have used the headphones to launch a voice request after July 31, 2019, and earlier than at the moment’s announcement. 

With the Headphones, the Cortana integration might be diminished, however not fully gone. In a assist doc, Microsoft describes the modifications: When utilizing your Floor Headphones with Android and iOS gadgets, you gained’t be capable to activate Cortana by saying, “Hey Cortana,” or by touching and holding the touchpad on both ear. That very same performance applies to Home windows 10 PCs working the Could 2020 Replace. Nevertheless, you’ll nonetheless be capable to contact and maintain the touchpad in your Floor Headphones or say, “Hey Cortana,” to activate Cortana to do issues like verify your calendar, set a reminder, and add to your to-do lists.

Microsoft Surface Headphones Mark Hachman / IDG

Whereas the Floor Headphones’ noise-cancelling expertise will stay, your capability to speak to Cortana might be severely diminished.

Likewise, as a result of the cell Cortana app is being retired, you gained’t be capable to use it to replace the Headphones. The Floor Audio app (iOS, Android, Home windows) will change it. 

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