The first speaker with Cortana built-in is almost here.
Last week, Microsoft hinted it wanted to compete with devices like Google Home and Amazon Echo, both of which are always-listening, connected speakers packing their own voice assistants. Although Microsoft hadn't announced any devices, nor are the company’s device partners, it suggested it was ready to allow Cortana to go up against Google's Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa.
Now, Harman Kardon has revealed it'll be the first third-party device maker to add Cortana, which is Microsoft's version of a voice assistant, to a speaker. It published a video to tease the audio hardware, which is launching sometime next year. In a 30-second clip, it's obvious that the upcoming speaker looks like Amazon Echo, though it appears to feature a display at the top. Keep in mind Amazon is rumoured to be working on a a new Echo device with a display, as well, though there's been no sign on when we can expect that to debut.
It appears as though the display on Harman Kardon's speaker will provide access to Cortana's user interface. Microsoft has been explaining lately that it wants to put Cortana on devices with screens, including Internet of Things (IoT) gadgets like smart toasters and thermostats.
So, this speaker should be the first of many products designed to showcase Cortana, but we don't yet know pricing or availability.