Earlier this week, Harman Kardon announced Invoke, a Cortana-enabled Amazon Echo competitor, which was also the first of its kind. However, at the Build 2017, it was announced that HP Inc and Intel are soon joining the league. Also Read - Post step down, here’s what Jack Dorsey, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and other big tech founders are up toAlso Read - Microsoft launches cybersecurity skilling program in India to train over 1 lakh learners
Undoubtedly, these Cortana-powered devices are aimed at taking over the likes of Amazon Echo and Google Home. However, it s odd that Microsoft is leaving this market to hardware partners. Also Read - Microsoft rolling out new Office UI for all Windows users: How to enable it
In addition to these new hardware partners, Microsoft also announced that Cortana Skills is now in public preview. While the company had already announced this service, it was previously only available to a few select partners. For now, though, the Cortana Skills kit is only available in the US. ALSO READ: Microsoft Build 2017: It s likely to be all about Windows 10 with a bit of mixed reality
Talking about the Harman Kardon s Invoke speakers, similar to Echo, they offer a 360-degree speakers, Skype calling, and smart home control all through voice commands. Design-wise, the Invoke strongly resembles Amazon s Echo that it s meant to compete with: both offer a similar cylindrical aluminum shape, light ring, and a seven-microphone array.
That said, Harmon Kardon seems to be taking the speaker portion of its functionality more seriously than Amazon does, with the Invoke offering three woofers and three tweeters. Microsoft is also highlighting the Invoke s ability to make and receive Skype calls to other Skype devices as well as smartphones and landlines, which is an interesting addition to a home assistant. ALSO READ: Microsoft Build 2017: From Cortana to Bots, here s what we expect this year
Coincidentally or not, barely a day ago, Amazon expanding its range of Echo devices by announcing the new Amazon Echo Show, which comes with a 7-inch touchscreen display and a 5-megapixel front camera for video calling.