Microsoft is rethinking its Cortana helper, announcing it will shut down current iOS and Android apps, end Cortana support for the Harman Kardon Invoke smart speaker, and remove the original Cortana functionality from the Surf headphones of the next generation. first starting from 2021.
These changes are still a few months away, but it marks another major step for Microsoft in moving Cortana away from a Google Assistant or Alexa alternative to a more specialized, productivity-focused assistant – changes that the company already has started making in Windows 10 version of Cortana earlier this year. (To that end, Microsoft also set a Sept. 7 date in the already announced sunset of third-party Cortana capabilities for Windows.)
Instead, Microsoft will focus on its productivity features that repurpose Cortana as part of Microsoft 365 software, citing the built-in features of Windows 10 and the built-in Cortana features in Outlook and Teams applications as replacements. It’s not as featured as the original Cortana – which offered additional features like in-house intelligence controls and music integration – but by offering a range of less extensive features, Microsoft hopes to create a product that better complements its existing software and competes less directly with established player like Google and Amazon.
Microsoft is also offering a consolation offer of a $ 50 gift card to Harman Kardon Invoke owners, who will be most affected by the removal of Cortana – which will effectively turn the previous smart device into a cost-effective speaker Bluetooth when the firmware update arrives next year. Owners of the original Surface headphones (who will also see their Cortana experience removed) are also being offered a $ 25 gift card to make up for the missing service.