Microsoft is rethinking and announcing its Cortana assistant it turns off current iOS and Android apps will end Cortana support for the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker and remove the original Cortana functionality from the first generation Surface Headphones from 2021.
These changes are still a few months away, but it’s another big step for Microsoft to turn Cortana away from a Google Assistant or Alexa alternative to a more specialized, productivity-focused assistant – changes the company has already made to Windows 10 version of Cortana earlier this year. (To that end, on September 7, Microsoft also announced a date for the already announced discontinuation of third-party Cortana skills for Windows.)
Instead, Microsoft will focus on its productivity features that will reuse Cortana as part of the Microsoft 365 software suite, citing the refreshed Windows 10 features and integrated Cortana features in the Outlook and Teams apps as replacements. It’s not as fully featured as the original Cortana – which offered additional features such as smart home control and music integration – but by offering a less wide range of features, Microsoft hopes to create a product that better matches its existing software and competes less directly with established players such as Google and Amazon.
Microsoft is also offering a consolation offer of a $ 50 gift card for Harman Kardon Invoke owners, who will be most affected by Cortana’s removal – essentially turning the formerly smart device into an expensive Bluetooth speaker when the firmware update next year arrives. Owners of the original Surface Headphones (who will also see their Cortana experience removed) are also offered a $ 25 gift card to make up for the missing service.