Microsoft is in the process of re-evaluating its Cortana assistant. The tech giant has announced that it will be shutting down the existing Android and iOS apps while also ending the Cortana support for the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker. It has also stated that it will be removing the original Cortana functionality from the first-gen Surface Headphones that are slated for launch in 2021.
The implementation of these changes is still a few months in the future, but it puts Microsoft on a much different path as it reimagines Cortana away from the idea of a Google Assistant or Alexa alternative towards a more focused and productivity-oriented assistant. These changes are already being incorporated into the Windows 10 version of Cortana as of earlier this year.
Microsoft wants to focus on its productivity features, thus revamping Cortana as a part of the Microsoft 365 suite of software. The Windows 10 functions and integrated Cortana features in the Outlook and Teams apps are working as replacements. However, it has fewer features as the original Cortana that had functions such as music integration and smart home controls. Microsoft believes that by having a fewer set of features, it can create a product that is better able to complement the existing software while not competing directly with the likes of Google and Amazon.
But wait, what about the owners of Harman Kardon Invoke speakers? Microsoft is offering such owners a consolation gift card, if you will, equivalent to $50. The Harman Kardon Invoke owners are going to be taking the hit of the brunt with the removal of Cortana. The former smart device will simply become an expensive Bluetooth speaker once the new firmware update makes its way to these devices next year. Those who own original Surface Headphones are also getting a $25 gift card since the Cortana service is to be removed.