Microsoft is gearing up for an assault on the Amazon Echo

Harmon  Kardon

Harmon Kardon

When there is smoke there is fire, the adage says, and the recently published product page for the Cortana-powered speaker from Harman Kardon showed that the company was nearly ready to announce the new appliance. Harman Kardon's unparalleled sound reveals all the handsome details in your music. The Details reveal the full design of the speaker similar to Amazon Echo and will be available in Black and Silver variants. Visually, the nicest touch is the Cortana logo that lights up on the top.

Pricing details have yet to be announced.

Cortana began on Windows Phone before expanding to Windows 10 and Xbox One, and the voice-enabled assistant is now starting to expand to third-party devices through the Cortana Device SDK. It incorporates a long-range microphone system so you can issue voice commands from across the room. The device, which could be launched at its annual developers conference, called BUILD, is developed by Harman Kardon.

Cortana can control music playback, send messages, check your calendar, and keep you updated with the latest headlines. Neither Microsoft nor Harmon Kardon have said how much Invoke will cost, only that it will be released later this year.

What you tell Cortana through Invoke will show up on your other Windows devices. You won't need to keep your phone with you or struggle to hear its speaker if the ambient environment is noisy.

Meanwhile, Amazon is reinforcing its position as the leader in the burgeoning market for voice assistants: Earlier this month, Amazon unveiled the Echo Look, a camera for the bedroom powered by the Alexa voice assistant.

It had then echoed that Amazon's Alexa and Google Assistant should start discussing their exit strategies as Cortana was stepping foot in the smart speaker space soon.

The greatest advantage with the Invoke will be its superior sound quality and technology, bearing the famed Harman Kardon name.

For Microsoft, the Invoke aids the company's long-term plans for its Cortana assistant.

Amazon and Google are reportedly considering a call feature. By partnering with Harman Kardon, Microsoft can gain a foothold in the growing market without investing in hardware development itself.

"We're excited to work with Microsoft to develop a premium speaker that will deliver an exceptional experience to every customer using 360-degree Harman Kardon sound and the intelligence of Cortana", said Michael Mauser, President, Lifestyle Audio Division at HARMAN.

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