Last year, Microsoft revealed that audio equipment specialist Harman Kardon was working on a new 'smart speaker', powered by its Cortana digital assistant. Few details were revealed about the voice-controlled device, besides a vague release date of sometime in 2017, although a teaser video hinted at an Amazon Echo-style form factor.
Earlier this month, it emerged that the speaker would be called the 'Invoke', and would also include Skype integration for voice call support.
Today, MSPoweruser reports that Microsoft has released an update to its Cortana app on Android "for some users", which includes a new 'Devices' section that offers some unexpected insights into the Invoke.
Aside from confirming its name, the new additions to Cortana also reveal that the speaker will connect to a range of music services. These will include not just Microsoft Groove, but also Pandora, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and - perhaps most importantly - Spotify, although users can apparently select a default option.
The overall experience appears broadly similar to a 'Cortana Speaker' setup process that was revealed earlier this month. However, while this new Cortana for Android update has apparently been made available to a limited number of users, there are a few oddities in its user interface:
- On a screen listing suggestions on the various voice controls offered by the Invoke, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's name is spelt as "Ed Sheeron".
- All of the screens on which users can connect to various music services are populated with the same text, referring to Pandora. This is surely 'placeholder' text that will need to be updated with more accurate descriptions for each service.
- One screen invites users to "setup your harman/kardon Invoke" - while the company's corporate logo appears like that, the company itself is always styled in sentence case as "Harman Kardon", even when it refers directly to its own products.
It's not clear exactly which users have been selected to receive this Cortana update; we've checked numerous Android devices at our end - and even a Cortana APK released yesterday, newer than the version listed on Google Play, doesn't yet include the new 'Devices' section. But from the screenshots published today, it's clear that Microsoft still needs to add a bit more polish to that portion of the app before the Invoke is released.
We still don't know exactly when the device will launch, or how much it will cost. We're likely to hear more about Microsoft's plans to support Cortana on speaker-style devices at its Build conference next month. For now, you can simply lust after the Invoke in the teaser video below:
Source and lower images: MSPoweruser