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Here's an early look at the Harman Kardon Cortana speaker set-up wizard

We were able to take a look at the new Cortana speaker activation a few days ago, but now we've uncovered the new Cortana Device Setup tool, first spotted by MSPU.

The wizard references the Harman Kardon speaker we've covered previously, and gives us a glimpse at the capabilities of this upcoming device.

While it seems that the Cortana speaker features will be available to any enterprising hardware manufacturer, at the moment, the setup app only references Harman Kardon's own speaker, which is set for launch somewhere in 2017.

The wizard details permissions the device will ask for, including your personal information, access to the Windows notification system, and also Skype. It does seem as though you will be able to make calls from this device, which could prove incredibly useful. It will also integrate with other devices and apps, such as iHeartRadio, leveraging the Cortana Devices SDK announced back in December, 2016.

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We don't know much about the Harman Kardon speaker, dubbed the 'Invoke,' besides its Cortana capabilities. When it comes to hardware capabilities, it's easy to speculate on things such as Bluetooth, an IR Blaster like the one found in the Xbox One S, and perhaps even support for 7.1 sound set ups. Harman Kardon produces a range of dazzling, near-futuristic sound setups, including this sci-fi transparent 3-piece speaker system, and an array of premium wireless Bluetooth speakers. So hopefully, the Invoke will follow the same attractive design sensibilities.

Harman Kardon is highly regarded in the audio field, but it remains to be seen whether Cortana herself can live up to Amazon's Alexa, who's shopping assistant powers has helped her carve a niche in the growing voice assistant market.

Keep it locked to Windows Central for more on this emerging technology, and let us know whether you'd consider picking up a Cortana speaker in the comments. I wonder if Microsoft has plans to solve the issue of Cortana simultaneously responding on my Lumia, PC, and Xbox...

Jez Corden is a Senior Editor for Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

86 Comments
  • How long before the Samsung owned Harman Kardon abandon Cortana support in favour of Bixby?
  • I'm worried about that as well. May skip the HK device if there is another brand available.
  • I see your perspective.  Wondering if this is coming from Harmon or Sammy? I know only recently Samsung acquired the bulk share of Harmon Kardon, so if a v.2 comes it could be a Samsung made 'Cortana Speaker'.
  • Remember that Cortana is supported on all platforms.  Personally I would skip this type of devices and wait for Home Hub which is a home control center.  
  • They had the Bixby name coined long before Harmon was official.  The Harmon Kardon official announcement I think was las month.  Probably why we see the Cortana speaker so late in the game.  But Samsung (ODM) teaming up with Microsost is good. 
  • When they spend $100s of Millions on it like Cortana
  • I had no idea HK was owned by Samsung!
  • H|K probably had no idea either until reading these comments.
  • Well, there is a Samsung phone being sold with preinstalled MS apps. Maybe they won't kill off Cortana until it becomes an actual threat.
  • That isn't that new of an idea, they've had android tablets with pre-installed Office Mobile apps before the S8, the new part is MS selling it in their small number of mainly US stores. (Small number as in worldwide there are a ton more Apple stores for example, as they are all over the place not just focussed mostly on US)
  • This is going to be useless in Australia.
  • no cortana there?
  • Yes, but it's basically a search engine and message reader, that's about it. The functionality is severely limited.
  • That is weird, it should not be the case since Cortana in American english is the most complet so it should not be so much work for the Australian version
  • I use it in Australia and it does everything it should, that I am aware of. Use it to book appointments, open apps, call people, ask what the weather will be like etc.
    On my Xbox One it changes my TV channels and even turns my TV on and off and controls the TV volume.
    What exactly is it missing here in Australia? Not saying you are wrong, just wondering what else it can do.
  • I guess my expectations are too high for these things. I want Cortana to be autonomous, not have to be directly spoken to all the time. For instance taking appointments directly from emails and messages and updating the calender with them. I want to be able to go from one device to another and say, continue my music and have it continue from whatever playlist I had been listening to previously. Also to be able to listen to specific albums in my music collection. In regards to this device I would want it constantly listening, so if I'm on the phone and I mention a time and date it will automatically fashion an event around that which I can then fill in any extra details on the next device I pick up. Cortana needs to be more organic because honestly, outside of a driving situation, or having your hands occupied note taking and appointments are easier to do with your hands rather than your voice.
  • Do you think Siri does all this? Good ideas though. Nothing to do with limitations in Australia however.
  • No I don't, Siri has better music playback options but the rest it can't do. I guess I just assumed that Australia was still behind in regards to Cortana because I've been underwhelmed (not that I've been overwhelmed by any of the other offerings, just yeah, I have higher expectations for this kind of thing) by what it can do for me.
  • Every supported region outside of the US is behind in numerous ways, but this speaker will probably be US only to begin with. Cortana relies on showing you the answer a little too much outside of US. The UK has the same issue "Here's what I found" instead of just saying the answer for example.
  • Most of these things are actually possible. The Groove team could certainly implement what you want if they decided to
  • It's things like if you ask "Who is the president of the united states" then if you are using US Cortana AFAIK she speaks the answer to you. Elsewhere, such as the UK and AU Cortana says "Here's what I found" and shows you the persons info from Bing, rather than telling you - Which is useless in a speaker only setup so I think this will be US only for a while until Cortana catches up in other regions
  • I would almost say, on WP8.x it was working already, but they cut down? Don't know anymore
  • Its missing quite a lot of things.  If you have  Australian langauage and region settings, check out the notebook for available things Cortana can do (and linked services).  Change language to US and region to US, restart, and check the difference.  What the HK speaker will need to be functional is in those items we are missing.  Even the ones we do have, most are useless.  Has anyone in Australia ever had a Cortana message related to Moies and TV?
  • Never once had thoe mesages and I cannot for the life o me figure out why. All it needs to do is pop up with a message saying "hey, X film is coming to the cinema this Thursday" or "don't forget to catch y tv show on wednesday at 8pm". I also love the fact that I can input what time I have lunch and specify a favourite food for literally NO reason. You know what I would expect if I am giving those two pieces of information? Maybe a recommendation of a local eatery at the time you specify you tend to eat lunch of the particular cuisine that you enjoy eating. It's not exactly rocket science. Also I apologise but I accidently reported your message because I was originally on my phone trying to reply to this and it just simply wouldn't select the reply button to bring up the dialog so I tapped at the screen a bunch of times and it activated the report button. Sorry.
  • Works great
  • Per Microsoft specifications Cortana is available fully in these countries Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Japan, Canada (French) and Spain.
  • Right, and if you do not live in one of those countries, you have to default to full US settings, which 1. makes you talk a foreign language to your phone and 2. gives US news all the time (and I'm really getting tired of news about Trump). It would be ok when you could at least set the region to my home country. Speaking a foreign language is common in most countries not mentioned above.
  • For some bizarre reason my Microsoft Calender app only gives me US holidays and I have no way to remove them.
  • Not even this. As I mentioned below, Cortana for Germany lacks some nice features like showing me the route on my mobile I just asked for on my pc cortana.
  • Might change with the Cortana speaker device though...
  • Cortana is available in those regions, but the non-US version of Cortana is not yet fully suitable for these devices as a lot of answers are shown on screen and Cortana says "Here's what I found" They also have an issue that I'm not sure what Alexa does to handle....If I ask Cortana to add an event to my calendar, how does she know I'm asking and not my wife - This isn't a problem on a phone or PC where Cortana is linked to a specific account, but a speaker in a communal area could be used by anybody in the household.
  • Been asking about multiple device voice activation for admit a year now. Xbox, surface pro, phone and now potentially this also. I used to show off to friends with voice activation, now its just embarrassing when turning Xbox off and Surface and phone are both saying "Sorry I can't do that right now, check back after future updates.." 😣
  • Yep, multiple-device Cortana and Skype are a nightmare.
  • My Xbox still works with "Xbox ...". You can activate the option in the settings.
    And with Creators Update, WIN+C activates Cortana (useful for computers and laptop).
    On my Lumia, I activate and use it only when I will take my car; for anything else, I set it to Bluetooth and cable only and turn off Hey Cortana.
  • I've not got one, but I've seen it demo'd and Google Home uses some algorithm to decide which device will answer and if you have a screen on your device it will say "Google is answering on another device" and IIRC shows the device name that won out in that instance
  • Sin,  It will be useless everywhere besides the USA.  It might get support in canada.....Bixby is not as good for this setup i dont think...It's more for controlling devices than AI useage.  
  • Expecting unaffordable pricing model if HK are making this...and yes, Cortana needs to respond from the nearest device like Alexa does...
  • I use Cortana all the time, on my 950 it's pretty reliable and when lost or stuck in traffic calling "Hey Cortana get me home" has worked really well a few times. Meetings, appointments, deliveries, places to eat / visit and special occasions are great, it works brilliantly on a cheap 8in tablet too. So amazon echo on the home bound talking toilet roll.... Not for me thanks. Oh and Cortana has never accidentally got me to buy anything even an amazon echo.
  • It's going to suck if it is as bad at voice rec as Xbox one. Spend so much time yelling at Cortana. Want to rename her "hey *****"
  • Strangely on my desktop cortana and hey cortana works great.  Yeh still not able to do things within plan and netflix but it does everything else I ask it and it does it relies.  Shame I can't ask it to play one of my own movies in windows open 10.
  • Have you used Alexis?... The voice recognition is out of this world.
  • Um.. Not really. It's good, but not "our of this world".
    Alexa often responds when nobody has spoken to "her".
    And about 20% of the time i really have to yell "ALEXA" or get no response at all.
  • Hasn't been my experience, and the bias around here is stupid ridiculous....
  • What if I said a MS product was the best, and we knew it wasn't? Would I get thumbs down?... Lol. Kids
  • If it makes you feel any better I would thumbs down you.
  • Why? Just to follow what everyone else does? Go ahead. Says a lot about you guys maturity level.
  • Dang, I knew I should have brought my huge flashing "this is a joke" sign to the comments today.
  • As I wrote in the previous article about this, my Echos have gotten to where I need to scream at them to just activate, and then it usually takes 3 or 4 tries of "turn off downstairs" for them to turn off the lights. They started off great, but the last few months they all turned on me (I have 4). And that is in a quiet room. If you have the audio turned up and trying to speak to Cortana (or even me talking to my Echos) it would be understandable, but if it is in a quiet room like with my Echo, then that is bad.
  • They turned on you. Now that's the problem with AIs and robots eventually turning on humans an taking over everything. All your 4 Alexis have wirelessly conspired to get you frustrated. 😀😀
  • So I read. But I've not exactly tried it out myself. Not that I can have easy and unfettered access to buy one though. But it'll be nice to make a comparison myself.
  • Interesting! Admittedly I'm not too fussed by the design of the device, if that's accurate. Was hoping for something a little more Echo/Echo Dot style and less Google Home... Though at the moment with the SP4 microphones being as good as they are I won't need anything like this for a while so that's ok. I am excited at the possibilities these types of devices bring though - give it 5-10 years and we'll all feel like we're living in our own USS Enterprise. ;)
  • Cortana has become way to sensitive for me. I was playing Forza 6 Apex last night and the game kept pausing with her popping up. The only sound was that of the game with no music or anything. Same thing on Xbox, about once an hour she'll pop up... Getting quite annoying. Maybe I should calibrate her, I know I haven't done that yet but I'm nit sure if you can on the Xbox.
  • I have that issue where my phone will just activate from random phrases in my pocket - If I train Cortana to my voice though it becomes too hard to get her to activate at all. "Hey Cortana" is a bit hit and miss in general on my Lumia but works well on my Surface Pro 3 and Desktop - On my phone it'll either activate perfectly 10 times in a row or just refuse to activate at all
  • Def excited...and yet...will this thing go the way of the Band 2...? Not going to spend money on anything MS doesn't hard-push advertise to the masses. Wasting my money otherwise.
  • I agree. Probably another MS product that will end prematurely like band, Zune, surface 2 RT. And now we can add Lumia to the pile. I will definitely wait to see where this one is going. Would be great tho.
  • Go the way of the band 2... As in the rubber splitting on the sides??
  • Or the speaker stops working, so we have to return it for an "easy" swap at the MS store...at least, until they kill the product and we're left with a nothing burger again. Then some will say "it wasn't meant to be a finished product, but a Proof of Concept that would get other manufacturers on board." Then Casio will come and just buy the patents. Greeeat. Thanks.
  • Aren't Casio just licensing the sensor tech? Either way...there's no guarantee that Casio release something that works with W10M, it could use the sensor tech from Band but only work with iOS and Android
  • Absolutely true...point here being, MS has to give us reason to invest in this HK/Cortana speaker, else why shouldn't we just presume they'll end up dumping it and license the tech to someone else?
  • The multi device support will make this a cool device (roaming control)
  • The products and service support better be on par with Google Home at least. I doubt it will be on par with Alexa.
  • This speaker will need to the US-only for some time IMO, they need to get Cortana answering more things via voice instead of showing the answer on screen and saying "Here's what I found" To be fair, Alexa and Google Home were US only to begin with, but MS have had Cortana for quite some time and the UK is so far behind the US it's hard to tell if they are working on improvements at all outside of the US
  • If it is not supported by any companies it will be just like Windows Mobile, nothing will work on it...
  • Well developers can port an Alexa skill very easily, and you are then instantly on all Windows 10 PCs too, and potentially Xbox Ones (In Cortana regions)
  • is it going to be band 2 or windows 10 mobile where they release hardware and say they will support software even if hardware is dead.. i just doubth microsoft commitment.
  • The software side is built into Windows 10 itself including PC, Xbox and Phones so I think it's a bit different here - Cortana won't be going anywhere anytime soon software wise
  • there isn't band 3, windows mobile creator update doesn't have any features. i'm trying to say they will release this so called device with some unique feature(skype) there won't be any follow up if they fail instead of trying they will wait and watch mean while echo and google now implement these unique feature with their apps then MS realize they failed so they will release skype for amazon echo and google now. remember continuum latest version dex, uwp latest version dex apps. i'm not going to invest on new products from MS untill it success in market. satya motto kill products which isn't succeed he isn't balmer. if he was leading MS when surface was failing, i'm sure he would have killed surface.
  • It's just a metadata collector
  • Right now, she is as in Halo 4, divided on each island device but hopefully soon there will be that point where the AI can unite between each on the back end to determine which one the user is addressing... 👀
  • This would be the smarter choice with the IOT devices like the raspberry pi line.  I know friends who are using a Alexi with pi and speaker, this would get it out there faster and to the masses.  I myself have enough speakers I don't have a need for this.  
  • It's pretty cool that Amazon released the source for running Alex on Pi, AFAIK it's free to use and fully featured right?
  • W10M ?
  • Maybe unlike the others its wireless and cam be brought outside.
  • Pretty sure the Echo is wireless isn't it? Although the battery base needs to be purchased
  • I feel like the Echo Dot for sure is portable.
  • Beside the point of having concurrent Cortanas, which all try to understand my reminder best... (and having three of them then - desktop, laptop, surface) the most annoying thing is, they don't feel natural. Cortana always wants finish her sentence. And she always asks me, if this is right or I want to add something or I want to cancel. Sorry, I think I'm not thaaaaaat stupid. After 2-3 reminders I already know the words I need to use. I just want finish this task. So Cortana should listen to me all the time after I started a conversation. When I forgot something, I want to add this part immediatly - not after 20 seconds of listening to her and waiting for the sound I am allowed to speak. Usually I see the display, so there is no need to force me to listen to everything (don't remove it though, since sometimes I'm not watching). I just tried asking how far Berlin is. Cortana need 11 seconds to tell me the time and distance. When I'm looking at the display, it tooks me 2 seconds to read this information and then I want to say "Thanks" and I'm done with this task. No, Cortana keeps talking and at the end, it's not even closing. So when I'm interested while watching a movie, I have to get up and close it and the whole thing is nothing useful at all. When I ask for bringin me to Berlin, she repeats this task. Instead of opening the app, I have to wait until she finishs saying her sentence. It's faster to open map and type in Berlin. So it's somehow useless. At least I thought: I just noticed, in Germany Cortana for mobile is not that helpful yet. When I said bring me to Berlin, my 550 (which is set to US region and English) gives me the option to open this route. My 950XL (Germany, German) does nothing. I wonder how many features I am still missing that are already implemented and don't need a lot of translation. Ah, and last part: Cortana is way too loud. I want her to calm down. Or maybe there is already an option, and I missed it? At least, Cortana is the only sound on my PC which usually goes to full amplitude.
  • I don't see a reason to get excited about this.  Microsoft has YET to apply any brainpower--or a solution--to the problem of Cortana being active on every device.  Walk into a room where have Cortana actively listening on an Xbox, a PC, a tablet and a phone.  Then add this speaker device.  Try saying something simpe, like "Hey, Cortana, turn on the Xbox".  Every device responds, but only ONE actually needed to for that specific command, and even then there's no guarantee it actually will respond.  Meanwhile, all the other devices are trying to tell you how to turn on the Xbox.  Try saying, "Hey, Cortana, what's the temperature?" and you'll get a chorus of devices responding with the temperature (or variations on what the device THINKS you said).
  • They should connect via WiFi and collaborate listening to you. Since the listening API can tell you the quality of the understanding, the different Cortanas can easily choose the best meaning. Also by this, the device that understood everything the best (maybe compared with amplitude) can respond. This would be nice.
  • Google figured it out, so I'm sure MS will too - My bigger concern is Cortana outside of the US, in the UK she relies on a display heavily for answering questions. Setting reminders etc. fine but ask who is the president of the united states on the UK Cortana and it's obvious a screen is required in that region to get full use
  • Exactly! I purposefully avoid speech commands on my Xbox One now because both my PC and phone will activate too and scold me for bothering them.
  • I'm just waiting to preorder.
  • Interesting
  • Sammy and HK..What! Harman Kardon I thought was a division of Harman International Industries. Samsung owns HK..I need to see that report.
  • I could remember when MSFT was working on its AI and a poll, I think, was conducted on the then Windows Phone Central on what name would be most appropriate and best suited for her. Cortana won the day but Alexis (or maybe Alexa) was one of the names proposed here. Now apparently that name has been stolen (pun intended) by Google for its own AI. I guess the droid boys always secretly ********** to activities on windows central ☺☺
  • Stolen by Google? Alexa is made by Amazon
  • Hope they include a Paging feature so these can be used as an Intercom in the home With Skype built in - seems like an obvious thing to permit