After several months of waiting, the new Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker will be released this coming Sunday, October 22nd. The speaker is powered by Microsoft Cortana and is the first dedicated Cortana smart speaker to hit the market. It will be priced at $199 and will be available through a variety of retailers.
Microsoft Cortana has 148 million active users today and that number is expected to jump with Invoke. The personal assistant, named after the personal assistant in the Halo franchise, has been a staple of Windows 10 since inception while the Android and iOS versions have been available for some time now. In fact, on Android, you can make Cortana your default personal assistant.
The Invoke will support Skype-based free calling upon debut and free outbound calling to mobiles and landlines in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Guam. Additional skills for the device will be coming over the course of the next few months that will allow you to email through various accounts (Office 365, Outlook.com and Gmail). Microsoft is also working on getting Pandora support into Invoke.
Ultimately it is unclear how successful Invoke will be for Harman Kardon and Microsoft. The smart speaker world is already pretty crowded with Amazon Echo and Google Home being the dominant players. But Cortana ranks second behind Google Assistant in the ability to understand and answer questions accurately. This could be the device that gives it the boost it needs in the market because it, like all of the other AI-driving assistants, need input to learn.
You can check out Invoke at your local Microsoft store or online. It will be available in two colors, Pearl Silver (White) and Graphite (Black), both being $199.95.